WORKOUT OF THE WEEK: Tabata Mistakes

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DES MOINES, Iowa - Tabata training is one of the most popular forms of exercise on the market, but a lot of people are doing it wrong.  Personal trainer Angie Gallagher says the number one mistake people make is not working hard enough. "Aerobic means with oxygen," she explains, "anaerobic is without and that's what you want. It’s where you can hardly breathe. It's not just hard breathing, it’s very labored and there is no talking!"

Trouble spot number two is doing this sort of vigorous interval training too much.  Angie says it's too hard on your body, and particularly your heart. "It’s becoming so popular people are only doing Tabata. Don't forget - your body needs 48 hours to recover.”

People often think Tabata is strictly a cardiovascular workout.  Mistake number three is never using weights. As long as you perform movements and use heavy enough weights to reach that anaerobic threshold, this is a great way to change up your routine.

Finally, myth number four - Tabata has to be high impact.  It doesn't. High intensity does not mean high impact.  To prove it, Angie has us do a sequence using paper plates.  Our feet never leave the floor, but we're sucking air - and that makes this a true Tabata experience.

To work out with Angie check out her website:


1 Comment

  • Melissa

    Hi Erin,

    Thanks for the informative. Angie makes some very valid points.

    I’ve been doing Tabata for about three years now. I sometimes use weights and I never do the workouts more than three times a week to give my body time to recover. Something I think is important to point out is that a certain level of fitness is required to undertake Tabata and extra time must be allocated for warming up and cooling down.

    I was quite fit before I started and the first few times I did Tabata I honestly thought I was going to die. I later realised that though I was aware of the dangers of going to hard, too fast, the exercises I chose were a little too advanced.

    I recently wrote a post on my blog on the Top 10 Tabata Exercisers for Beginners. Here is the link that may be helpful for anyone thinking of trying Tabata for the first time: I hope it’s okay that I include it. If not, feel free to remove it. All of the included exercises can be modified to suit the exercisers fitness level.

    It’s become increasingly popular to do longer Tabata workouts, but I stick to 4 minutes plus an 8 to 10 minute warm up and a 5 to 10 minute cool down, plus stretches. My cardiovascular fitness and endurance has markedly improved and I’ve noticed a decrease in my body fat, so I have no intention of stopping.

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