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Tabata Pain

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  • Tabata Pain

    So, I tried Tabata Sprints for the first time yesterday Ė good lord, the pain!

    I feel like I performed very well, as I was doing the back-and-forth approach to gauge my performance on running back to where I started

    But afterward I felt like my eardrums wanted to burst, and that my teeth were being pulled out of my gums.

    My jaw felt sore, and I couldít take full, deep, breathes until about 10 minutes after I was done.

    Iím ok now, but just curious if this sort of sensation is normal.

    Iíve been doing Primal for a good 5-6 months now, and love it, but Iíve hit a plateau with my physique.

    Iím in great shape - and have leaned up noticeably since starting the PB - but I want to cut up and and be more lean, so Iím thinking of upping my sprints to 2-3 times a week Ė so this felt like the optimal way to do it.

    Iíve also not incorporated the heavy lifting into my lifestyle yet Ė but I do spend a lot of time training Muay Thai and conditioning for that. Which is why I find it hard to find more time for heavy lifting.

    Perhaps my not lifting heavy weights it contributing to this plateau as well?

    I don't quite think it is the reason, as I have the muscle to show, but just want to trim a bit more fat.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated!


  • #2

    Yeah, I haven't tried the Tabata method with sprints yet, but I did them with light weights/squats and... ugh... the next day I felt like I'd been beaten with a baseball bat. After a week of doing them 3x a week I felt like I'd been beaten with a lead pipe LOL.

    Rest, recovery, epsom salt bath, repeat... and if you're doing Muy Thai, then some dit dat jow wouldn't kill ya either... (chinese martial arts linament, 10000x better than tiger balm.)


    • #3

      I did Tabata pushups, and squats (50lbs). Ouuuuch! I have not worked out since I did. That was 6 days ago. I took me a long time to recover.

      I did Tabata sprints weekly for 2 years previously, and I can say that what you are feeling is normal. It never gets less painful. You just get faster. Thats kind of the whole point, as your fitness level increases, you just up the intensity.

      Def don't sprint 2-3 times a week. Its too much. You will get fatigue fractures in your chins. It happened to me back then, and took almost 6 months to fully recover ( ) If you are plateauing, stop sprinting and do another type of exercise for a week or two. Walking, squats, weight trainging, whatever, just something else... it will give those muscles a little time to adjust. You will come back stronger and better for it.


      • #4

        Oooh, just noticed your a Muy Thai guy. That not sprinting 2-3 times a week goes double for you. Your shins (misspelled it before) take a pounding in training. I was into martial arts when I had it happen to me too. One good block to my kick started a minor crack, and the sprints just enlarged the crack a tiny bit each week. It was getting reinjured faster than it could heal, and eventually hurt so bad, I couldnt keep going.

        Remember rule #9 avoid stupid mistakes... they lead to injury, and that leads to comprimised health.


        • #5


          It is my belief that sprints are SUPPOSED to hurt. You just learn to love the feeling....

          But I'm concerned about the severe jaw pain. I'm not a doctor, but when I hear severe shoulder or jaw pain with exercise I start wondering about something like angina...have you ever had that before?

          If it persists, ya might want to go do a quick stress test...


          • #6

            Remember that the Tabata Protocol was developed for use with elite athletes. This doesn't mean you should avoid it, but definitely moderate the level of intensity, especially when just starting out. Incremental progression is key to success. If you look at intensity on a scale of 1 to 10 you should probably hover around a 6-7 when starting out with Tabata. Allow your body to get used to the intensity, and then rachet it up. Oh yeah, rest, recovery, restoration are indespensible.

            Hope this helps,

            Jon Haas



            • #7

              I know when I do Tabata Sprints I feel it all over my body and therefore I do only 2 min of sprints (I am still heavy in the weight department), but if you are getting those sorts of pain, I would agree with those posted above and either get it checked out, lower the intensity, or wait longer between sprints.

              Ism's in my opinion are not good. A person should not believe in an -ism, he should believe in himself. I quote John Lennon, "I don't believe in Beatles, I just believe in me."--Ferris Bueller, 1986
              Check me out @ my blog: Retrospective Caveman
              I set up a Facebook Group for all those who are eating and living Paleo/Primal


              • #8

                Tabata torture seems to be a recurring theme in the forum. Perhaps we need an omni post by Mark on the subject.



                • #9

                  Here's a good post from a new web site. It's free:

                  Was Tabata Wrong?



                  • #10

                    I've never done Tabata intervals. I'm very out of shape. I've been doing Al Sears's PACE program on and off, which is probably a little close to what Mark means by "sprinting." There are a few different ways to approach it, but basically he says to bring your heart rate way up as quickly as you can, then go very easy until it recovers, then do it again. Never do it for more than 20 minutes total. As you get fitter, your recovery rate will improve, and you will also be able to get your heart rate up quicker. So you can say that as you get fitter you'll be doing more sprints, but shorter sprints. Make sense?


                    • #11

                      Heart rate -- I did follow Mark's suggestion to buy a heart rate monitor. This is a true expression of optimism.

                      First, once I get that far, I'll use it to stay in the low percentage of maximum heart rate which he advocates. Then, if matters go well, I'll use it to make an appropriate short sprint speed.

                      Nothing like looking far ahead. Sort of like planting an apple tree, or better yet, an olive tree. Olive trees can live for hundreds of years.


                      • #12

                        Bah! I posted to this a while ago, and just realized that it didn't go through!

                        Anyway, Piano-Doctor-Lady, I'd start using that HRM if I were you. Not so much for the low percentage of max work, but for the sprints. When we think of sprints, we think of running, but that doesn't have to be the case. You'd be surprised what can get your heart rate up. Try things like getting up and down from a seated position. Normal stuff that would be helpful in improving your everyday life, but something that you're comfortable with (and I realize that that sounds crazy with arthritis and FM, but whatever doesn't cause you too much pain). Get your heart rate up for a very, very short time, then let it recover, and do it again. You don't have to do it any set number of times. You can start with once or twice, then work your way up. I think you'll be surprised at your progress.

                        The PACE ebook can be a bit pricey, but there's a shorter (and far less descriptive) version of it in The Doctor's Heart Cure. Al Sears is one of the doctors interviewed in Fat Head. Some of the stuff on his website seems a little gimmicky, but the advice in the publications seems pretty good to me.


                        • #13

                          Why, All-Beef, thanks.

                          This seems like very sensible advice!

                          My mobility, it is true, is downright poor, but, surprisingly (to my customers) I am able to Lift Heavy Things.

                          To quote the inimitably funny Ashleigh Brilliant, "I'm not perfect, but parts of me are excellent." (The name of one of his books.)

                          Perhaps if I Lift Heavy Things to get to the sprint heart rate .... and then rest .... and then do it again ....

                          Also, scything and digging get my heart rate up. The digging isn't all that good on my knees, but I can do some. I hadn't thought of using the heart monitor while scything, but why not? It might keep me from overtraining. I could scythe, then sit down and catch my breath, letting my knees recover, then scythe again. I have a considerable fraction of a 1/5 acre lot just begging me to do this.


                          • #14

                            Are you heavy, PDL? I'm still kinda heavy at 226. I was 296. I just started CrossFit training, and they're a little surprised at how strong I am. My explanation for this is that heavy people almost always have a significant amount of muscle.

                            I've been slowly losing weight for the past few years, but I make an effort to maintain that lean muscle through everyday things. I lift my dog all the time, squat to do stuff at ground level, things like that. So now I have a body with musculature that's used to carrying around 70 pounds more than it has to now. Upright rowing, dead-lifting or squatting with my fifty pound dog and carrying him up and down the steps isn't all that hard for me anymore. Even with the other two dogs and the three cats constantly trying to trip me.

                            So heavy people have a huge advantage. An advantage that even helps them to lose weight if they're patient enough to do it well and not go catabolic like The Biggest Loser contestants.

                            My knees don't give me too much trouble anymore when it comes to everyday things. Running or any kind of sharp impact can cause some pain, but even that is subsiding. Like I said before, I just started doing the occasional running sprint. I do them while walking a young pit bull (my pit bull is old, she doesn't sprint too much anymore, but I walk dogs for a "living"), but I'm careful to only do them when we're on grass.

                            My basic point is that it took me years to figure out what works for me. With a little playing around you can too.


                            • #15

                              And my wife is passively looking for work in Portland (because I refuse to move to Los Angeles), so I fully expect you to help me turn my brown thumb green if we ever move out there.