2010: A Tabata Odyssey

I noticed something about next year…


It looks remarkably like this…


Which should remind you of our favorite workout protocol: the tabata. Twenty seconds of work, followed by 10 seconds of exquisite rest… eight times.

There are well-documented advantages to this kind of training, but if I’m honest about why I like tabata workouts, I’d have to admit it’s because they’re so nutty and so painful, they take me right around the other end of the spectrum to fun.

So here’s what I propose for January 1, 2010:

1. Get yourself ten slips of paper.
2. On five of them, write the names of exercises you like.
3. On five of them, write the names of exercises you don’t like or that need improvement.
4. Drop all the slips of paper in a hat.
5. Draw out four of them. No peeking!
6. That’s your workout! Those four exercises: 8 rounds each, 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off.

Here’s an example:
I like: pushups, situps, squats, box jumps, running sprints
I don’t like: pullups, thrusters, dips, supermans, sprawls

I throw them all in a hat, and I pull out: pushups, pullups, thrusters, box jumps

My workout then looks like this:
8 rounds, 20 seconds work/10 seconds rest: pushups
8 rounds, 20 seconds work/10 seconds rest: pullups
8 rounds, 20 seconds work/10 seconds rest: thrusters
8 rounds, 20 seconds work/10 seconds rest: box jumps

A few guidelines:
1. Be sure to do a solid warmup before you start. You might try three rounds of 10 squats, 10 pushups, and 10 rotations, followed by high knees, butt kicks, skipping, side shuffles, and a 400m run.

2. If you must, take a brief rest between each exercise – like, a minute, max – but between those eight rounds of an individual exercise, don’t waiver from the 10 seconds of rest. Keep moving during your sequence of eight. :20 on, :10 off, :20 on, :10 off, etc.

3. The exercises that work best for tabata are the ones that are generally comprised of only one movement (for example, NOT burpees or man-makers) and don’t require a ton of thinking about form (for example, I wouldn’t throw snatch into the mix). I’ve included a list of good options below to get you started.

4. Don’t go too heavy on the weight. Please. The idea is SAFE, controlled, effective full range of motion. Use manageable dumbbells and kettlebells that allow you to complete the movement correctly and move like you mean it.

5. There are two ways to keep score, if you’re into that kind of thing. (IF you want to keep score! Like there’s a CrossFitter out there that doesn’t keep time or count during a workout! Track your reps each round, then:
(a) count your lowest number on each round and that’s your score for that round… OR
(b) keep a tally of your total reps for the whole workout

If you use method (a), your lowest number on a round is your “score,” and the goal is to be as consistent as possible throughout the eight rounds.

If you use method (b), you get to say, “Dude! I did X-number of reps this morning. That’s way better than nursing a hangover!”

Decide which makes you feel more braggy and go with it.

Here’s a list of exercises that work well for tabata workouts:

air squats
wall ball shots
box jump/step ups
running sprints
med ball slams
dumbbell/kettlebell push press
dumbbell/kettlebell overhead press
jump squats
mountain climbers
jump rope/double-unders
kettlebell/dumbbell swings
dumbbell thrusters
kettlebell/dumbbell sumo deadlift highpull
PVC pipe overhead squats

GOLD STAR BONUS for 2010: If you want to get really fancy, you can make this an 8-week benchmark workout and re-test yourself every two months. That means during the first week of March, May, July, September, and November, you do the same workout. No drawing new exercises! The ones you choose on January 1 are your companions throughout 2010… even if fate conspired against you and your random selections yielded only exercises you hate. By the end of 2010, those frenemies will be your BFFs!

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  • jencereghino says:

    I LOVE it!!! Scott and I will totally be doing this! Now…I just need to make up my list. Please let tere be no push ups or thrusters…

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    If I get thrusters, I might cry. For real.

  • Shelley says:

    Oh man. I just KNOW my trainer (who loves the Tabata) is going to incorporate 2010 into our workouts…and I am scared now!

  • Heidi says:

    I LOVE THIS IDEA! I'm so all over it! Thanks Mel!

  • CrossFitCentralJules says:

    Oh my – why in the world did I have to open my big mouth? REGARDLESS – cleaver, challenging and sounds like fun!!! Happy new year

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Shelley, scared in a really GOOD way, right? 🙂

    Heidi, be sure to post back here and let us know what your workout looked like!

    Jules, come play with us in the park on Friday!

  • Christine says:

    What time will the fun begin on Friday??

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    9:00 a.m.

    Gillis Park – It's on Oltorf between Congress and South First, behind Habanero Restaurant

  • jencereghino says:

    We did it and…we LOVED it! Great WOD!!! A couple days late, but we got it done.

    Here's what I pulled:
    Sumo Deadlift High Pulls (53lb Kettlebell)
    Sit Ups
    Knees to Elbows
    Kettlebell Swings (35lb)

    Not too bad! Scott got thrusters…ugh!!! I think he was seriously considering repulling.

    So…how 'bout a SuperBowl WOD!? If you make them up…I will play along!