November 01, 2007
In 1996, Dr. Izumi Tabata published the results of a study demonstrating, with speed skaters, that the aerobic and anaerobic pathways could be trained simultaneously (Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 28). This was a significant finding, as most authorities had regarded the two pathways--and training for them--as compartmentalized. Aerobic training was largely long slow distance (LSD) work, and anaerobic training was typically regarded as some hard-to-measure dark component left to the explosion sports.
Dr. Tabata examined several different protocols but settled on eight sets of twenty-second work intervals alternating with ten-second rest intervals as the most effective interval times for improving VO 2 max. In the original study the intervals were performed at a quantifiable 170 percent of VO2 max. (Just think max effort.) In the field, where measurements are more subjective, the effort should be such that on the eighth set the trainee is nearing exhaustion. In the original study, the test subjects doing 4-minute "Tabata" intervals saw greater VO2 max improvement than the control group that did 60-minute sessions of moderate- intensity exercise. Moreover, as Greg Glassman points out, these high-intensity efforts produce this dramatic aerobic benefit without the muscle wasting brought about by endurance training. of some sort of midsection work, with or without dumbbells.