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Tabata Strength Training - Leg Press, Pull-Down etc.

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  • Tabata Strength Training - Leg Press, Pull-Down etc.

    Just got back from the gym, and today I tried Tabata for the first time. Instead of the usual implementations (sprinting, ergometer, elliptical etc) I applied the principle to strength training and did a Tabata circuit consisting of:

    Leg Press
    Lat Pulldown (supinated grip)
    Chest Press Machine
    Horizontal (High) Row
    Shoulder Press w/ Dumbbells

    For each exercise I did 6 Tabata cycles (20 seconds work, 10 seconds rest). Long story short: I feel like the proverbial freight train hit me ... actually I felt like that ever since I got off the leg press machine.

    Have any of you done this? I used a nice iPad/iPhone app ("Tabata Pro") to time the intervals - I like its minimalistic interface. If you want to give Tabata a try, you should really get either a phone app or a real Tabata timer.

    Here's a video I found on YouTube of someone doing just the exercise I'm talking about (in fact the video inspired me to try it in the first place):

    YouTube - ‪Tabata Leg Press to Improve Running Speed and Endurance‬‏

    Obviously this is another cool method of timing the exercise: Get a nice song that features the intervals. :-)
    MikeEnRegalia's Blog - Nutrition, Dieting, Exercise and other stuff ;-)

  • #2
    I love the way the guy in your Youtube video advises us to "limit knee bend to 90 degrees to avoid injuries" - I stopped watching right there.
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    • #3
      ^ Bill De Simone would probably agree with him. Personally, I limit the range of motion in squats depending on how much weight there is. I'll go all the way down on bodyweight squats or overhead squats (I use very little weight with those), but when I lift heavy, I stop a little bit beyond 90 degrees.

      I'm curious ... what is there to gain from going all the way down in heavy squats? I agree that they become more challenging, but if the point of the exercise is to train the quads and glutes, there's little point in exceeding the effective range of motion. As far as injury is concerned, Bill explains it much better here (Watch from about 20:00 to 25:00 about squat ROM).

      In any case, Tabata is all about improving the metabolic conditioning - there are other ways to improve ROM.
      Last edited by MikeEnRegalia; 07-02-2011, 01:36 PM.
      MikeEnRegalia's Blog - Nutrition, Dieting, Exercise and other stuff ;-)

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      • #4
        So, what did you use for loading guidelines?
        Slow resistance exercise is about the only thing I can do at any degree of intensity
        without hurting something so I'll probably be doing something like this.
        How did the cardio load feel compared to doing one set to failure on each machine?

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        • #5
          Since I was doing Tabata for the first time, I had no real reference. I started with half the weight I would use for one set to failure HIT, and that worked out fine. As far as the metabolic load is concerned: Compared to one set HIT it's much, much more demanding. Typically in a HIT set you'll feel the muscle burning near the end of the set, but ultimately muscle failure puts an end to it. In the Tabata intervals you quickly enter the burning phase, and the short rest intervals effectively prolong the phase for several minutes.

          Since it is so demanding, I'd obviously recommend to ease into it and to not overdo it - I'm planning to do it once a week, and so far that seems plenty.
          MikeEnRegalia's Blog - Nutrition, Dieting, Exercise and other stuff ;-)

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          • #6
            Originally posted by MikeEnRegalia View Post
            ^ Bill De Simone would probably agree with him. Personally, I limit the range of motion in squats depending on how much weight there is. I'll go all the way down on bodyweight squats or overhead squats (I use very little weight with those), but when I lift heavy, I stop a little bit beyond 90 degrees.

            I'm curious ... what is there to gain from going all the way down in heavy squats? I agree that they become more challenging, but if the point of the exercise is to train the quads and glutes, there's little point in exceeding the effective range of motion. As far as injury is concerned, Bill explains it much better here (Watch from about 20:00 to 25:00 about squat ROM).

            In any case, Tabata is all about improving the metabolic conditioning - there are other ways to improve ROM.
            So your ROM reduces as the load increases? Why?

            And who said that the "point" of a squat was to train the quads and glutes? The point of a squat is get better at doing squats.

            Besides, the guy in your video looks like he couldn't squat full stop let alone go through any full ROM. And if you want to focus on the Tabata method for metabolic then stop messing around performing controlled reps on a leg press and follow the protocol as recommended.
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            • #7
              Originally posted by Coach Palfrey View Post
              So your ROM reduces as the load increases? Why?
              That's not what I said. I am reducing the range of motion deliberately when at the extreme ends of the ROM in a particular exercise your muscles and/or joints would be put in a disadvantageous or possibly dangerous position. As far as squats are concerned, that happens in the very deep position for the knee as well as the lumbar spine. It's not so bad when you do bodyweight squats since after all your body was designed to be able to squat - but IMO the situation changes when you add your own bodyweight on top of that in the form of a barbell resting on your shoulders.

              Originally posted by Coach Palfrey

              And who said that the "point" of a squat was to train the quads and glutes? The point of a squat is get better at doing squats.
              I said that. I want to train the quads and glutes, and I picked the leg press. A squat would also train the quads and glutes, that's a given. I know that you're a fan of "functional exercise" - but if you take that principle to the extreme, you would not do any strength training at all - you just would be doing the activity that you want to get better at. In my case, I don't have any particular sport that I want to get good at. I'm in this for general fitness and health.

              Originally posted by Coach Palfrey

              Besides, the guy in your video looks like he couldn't squat full stop let alone go through any full ROM. And if you want to focus on the Tabata method for metabolic then stop messing around performing controlled reps on a leg press and follow the protocol as recommended.
              Since you're all about functional training - before criticising the guy, wouldn't you first have to look at what he's training for? Maybe he doesn't need full ROM there - and since his user name at YouTube is "runningraw", I think I'm onto something there.

              BTW: As far as the Tabata protocol is concerned, here's how it is defined at Wikipedia:

              "Tabata Method
              A popular regimen based on a 1996 study[2] uses 20 seconds of ultra-intense exercise (at 170% of VO2max) followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeated continuously for 4 minutes (8 cycles). In the original study, athletes using this method trained 4 times per week, plus another day of steady-state training, and obtained gains similar to a group of athletes who did steady state (70% VO2max) training 5 times per week. The steady state group had a higher VO2max at the end (from 52 to 57 ml/kg/min), but the Tabata group had started lower and gained more overall (from 48 to 55 ml/kg/min). Also, only the Tabata group had gained anaerobic capacity benefits."

              It simply says "ultra-intense exercise" - as far as I'm concerned, that doesn't rule out the leg press or other weight lifting movements at all.
              MikeEnRegalia's Blog - Nutrition, Dieting, Exercise and other stuff ;-)

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              • #8
                Incidentally: Turns out that Tim VanOrden (the guy in the YouTube video) promotes (raw) Veganism. I don't - at all, I'm all for eating meat, but that doesn't mean that the video is less relevant with respect to Tabata strength training. It's the same with your criticism of his ROM ... that may be valid or not, but has nothing to do with the Tabata protocol. Most people out there aren't perfect ... but that doesn't mean that they're not getting something right.
                MikeEnRegalia's Blog - Nutrition, Dieting, Exercise and other stuff ;-)

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                • #9
                  It's difficult to argue with people who take their information from Wikipedia.
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                  • #10
                    It's equally difficult to argue with people who dismiss everything out of hand that's on Wikipedia. I quoted the passage, and if you're familiar with the protocol and you think that it's misrepresented, please do point it out! Your post, as it is, is 100% malicious trolling.
                    Last edited by MikeEnRegalia; 07-03-2011, 09:53 AM.
                    MikeEnRegalia's Blog - Nutrition, Dieting, Exercise and other stuff ;-)

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by MikeEnRegalia View Post
                      Since I was doing Tabata for the first time, I had no real reference. I started with half the weight I would use for one set to failure HIT, and that worked out fine. As far as the metabolic load is concerned: Compared to one set HIT it's much, much more demanding. Typically in a HIT set you'll feel the muscle burning near the end of the set, but ultimately muscle failure puts an end to it. In the Tabata intervals you quickly enter the burning phase, and the short rest intervals effectively prolong the phase for several minutes.

                      Since it is so demanding, I'd obviously recommend to ease into it and to not overdo it - I'm planning to do it once a week, and so far that seems plenty.
                      I'm having a lot of trouble with how/why 6 * 20 sec * 50% could be more demanding than 1 * 90sec * 100%

                      Do you do more reps per unit time on the Tabata than normal HIT?

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                      • #12
                        Here's another example - this time it's Tabata push-ups, which will perhaps even satisfy Coach Palfrey's narrow criteria for acceptable workouts:

                        YouTube - ‪Tabata push ups‬‏

                        (I know, his form is bad ... there's always something ;-) )

                        That's better:

                        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tEnS6YPYZG8
                        Last edited by MikeEnRegalia; 07-03-2011, 10:17 AM.
                        MikeEnRegalia's Blog - Nutrition, Dieting, Exercise and other stuff ;-)

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Coach Palfrey View Post
                          It's difficult to argue with people who take their information from Wikipedia.
                          Oh, you're just still bitter about the 90 degree crap.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by MikeEnRegalia View Post
                            Here's another example - this time it's Tabata push-ups, which will perhaps even satisfy Coach Palfrey's narrow criteria for acceptable workouts:

                            YouTube - ‪Tabata push ups‬‏

                            (I know, his form is bad ... there's always something ;-) )
                            I don't believe anybody is getting near 170%vo2 max doing pushups.
                            Or an upper body machine.
                            Leg press I think it could be done but I'd like to see data.

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                            • #15
                              ^ That I agree with. However, I think that most of the adaptations from Tabata training (or indeed most interval training) happen in the muscle tissue itself - for details on this you can check out the book Body by Science. If you apply the principle to smaller muscle groups, I think it's quite possible that you can still get most of the adaptations in the muscle even if your total metabolic load isn't that high. I'm not sure though whether the training would count as "Sprint" in the PB scheme of things ... I guess it's somewhere in between sprint and lifting heavy. When I do the "big five" circuit though that I outlined above, I think I would count that as sprint.
                              MikeEnRegalia's Blog - Nutrition, Dieting, Exercise and other stuff ;-)

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