Tabata Protocol

As the instructor of Krav Maga Swindon, I’m often asked to recommend supplementary exercise for my students to do outside of their Krav Maga class. My answer: Tabata.

I’ll keep this simple and brief. You have two distinct metabolic modes: aerobic and anaerobic.

Aerobic Exercise

Aerobic exercise should be a component of any person’s fitness regime. Simply, it is exercise done at a pace you can maintain over a period of time, such as 45-60 mins. It might be swimming, jogging, cycling, spin or any other thing that you can settle into a rhythm with and maintain your pace for a decent amount of time (at least 40 minutes to get any real gains.) It’s called aerobic exercise because you are operating within your body’s capacity to metabolise oxygen in the generation of energy. (Below VO2 MAX for those of you into your exercise science.)

Battle RopesAnaerobic Exercise

When you exercise at a pace beyond your body’s capacity to metabolise oxygen your body slips into a different method of generating the energy you need. It can only operate like this for a short duration, usually measured in seconds rather than minutes. There are toxic byproducts of anaerobic exercise such as Lactic Acid, which I’m sure you are all familiar with. No matter how fit you are, you will not be able to sustain anaerobic work for very long. But your capacity to do so can be increased.

More importantly, increasing your anaerobic capacity will have large effects on your overall fitness.

Interval Training

Interval Training is the practice of exercising anaerobically for short intervals, usually broken by shorter intervals of rest.

The Tabata Protocol works as follows:

20 seconds exercise – 10 seconds rest (REPEAT 8 TIMES USUALLY WITH DIFFERENT EXERCISES).

Total, 4 minutes.

The idea is to chose 4 exercises and repeat them twice, for example: Burpees, Pushups, Mountain Climbers, Tuck Jumps. Do each exercise for 20 seconds with a 10 second rest between each set.

The only rule is that you train as fast and hard as you physically can. Absolute maximum.

People often say “Tabata isn’t that bad.” If you say this, you’re not doing it right. It should make you feel (or be) sick, or at least leave you destroyed after your 4 minutes.

ClockInterval Training and Krav Maga

Fighting is profoundly anaerobic. Short bursts of the hardest exercise known to man, coupled with massive stress, which drives the oxygen hungry brain into overdrive. Training in Tabata will make you a better and more capable fighter, there’s no doubt about it. One of the most common lies martial arts and self defence instructors tell their students is “You don’t need to be fit.” This is nonsense. Clearly, the fitter you are the more resilient you will be when you are attacked. Especially if you tried to run and were chased down and forced into violence conflict.

Optimum Regime.

Tabata is so often misquoted as being the best method to improve fitness. Don’t get me wrong, it is, but people forget that the original study included steady state workouts as part of the trial. The optimum schedule may be something like 1 Tabata / day and 3x1hour steady state cardio sessions / week. The balance of steady state and fast High Intensity Interval Training (Tabata for example) will make you fitter than you’ve ever been and ready to take on the toughest of Krav Maga classes.

Good luck in your training.

Will Bayley, BKMA Graduate Instructor, Krav Maga Swindon, Krav Maga North Bristol, Bristol University Krav Maga Society.