11/17/09: Rest Day – Tabata & Anaerobic Capacity

by on Nov.16, 2009, under Fitness, Rest day

Rest Day!

Familiarize yourself with “tabata” sets. A tabata set of a given exercise is to complete as many reps of the assigned exercise as you can within 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds of rest. Repeat this seven more times for a total of 8 intervals, which is 4 minutes of total work per exercise.

The tabata protocol was created by several Japanese scientists who were trying to determine the effect of moderate-intensity endurance and high-intensity intermittent training on anaerobic capacity and V02max. (If you want to check out the actual published article, go here. The study proved that the above-referenced protocol increased aerobic (endurance) capacity and, more importantly, anaerobic capacity by 28%, whereas the purely endurance training did not improve anaerobic capacity at all. Now, why is this important to a traceur?

First, you need to know what anaerobic capacity is. “Anaerobic” means “without air” or “without oxygen.” Anaerobic exercise is a short lasting, high intensity activity where the demand for oxygen from the exercise exceeds the oxygen supply. Anaerobic exercise relies on energy sources that are stored in the muscles and, unlike aerobic exercise, is not dependent on oxygen from (breathing) the air. In other words, anaerobic capacity is the amount of power available to a person when their oxygen system is depleted.

Without going into the various energy systems in the human body (we’ll save that for later, promise), it is possible to recognize when you’re using anaerobic power. Think of running a cross-country race (or any other long distance). If you were to sprint at the end of that race while your oxygen system was depleted, you would be using your anaerobic power.

This is important to those who practice parkour as there may be a time when your oxygen system is depleted and you need additional power to jump a gap, climb a wall or perform a difficult vault. Having that reserve of anaerobic power will be essential to completing that movement.

Additionally, performing exercises using the tabata protocol will not only increase that anaerobic capacity, but also increase your cardiovascular endurance and functional strength.