Treadmills Versus Tabata Workouts

Treadmills are synonymous in our culture with something that is long, monotonous, unchanging. In contrast Tabata workouts are quick, intense, fast moving. If a treadmill regime is the slow steady beam of a torch, a Tabata workout is a shooting star. The two are opposite poles in the workout world, and their philosophies are as different as possible.

At the same time—strange as it may sound—the two are not mutually incompatible. You can actually do a Tabata workout on the treadmill. It’ll be completely different than your usual treadmill workout, though. For one thing, it’ll only take you four minutes. For another, that four minutes may be one of the most intense four minutes of your life.

Before you turn up your nose at the four minutes, let me tell you something—four minutes of Tabata, done just four times a week, will give far more benefits than your hour of steady-state treadmill work, done five or even six days out of every seven.

Don’t believe me? Look up Tabata in an online search engine that goes through scholarly journals, and you’ll see I’m not making this up.

Are you convinced yet?

Okay, ready to turn your brain numbing treadmilling into a lightning-fast Tabata?

Get a stopwatch out, and let’s get to it!

Be aware that this requires a little bit of agility, so if you’re not quite sure on your feet you may want to try another type of exercise for your Tabata workout.

First, turn on your treadmill and straddle it, feet on the edges, while you wait for it to get up to speed. Then get on, start running, and run as fast as you can for 20 seconds. Another twist is to turn up the incline, this will make it more intense.

When the timer gets off grab the handrails and jump back on the edges, straddling again. Stay there for exactly 10 seconds, then get your feet back on and go for it for another 20 seconds! You’ll be repeating the running/resting sequence 8 times.

The twenty seconds of run times have to be as intense as you can make them, so put on a decent uphill and a good speed. The last sessions will be really, really hard to do. Try not to change the speed or incline if you can help it. This pain is what is sculpting your body, changing your muscles from tender lie-abeds to tough, stringy fibers that can handle anything.

After the 20 second intervals you should be gasping for air, cursing the machine and really hating life, if you are not then you’re running is not intense enough. That is Tabata.

How does that compare with your regular Treadmill regimen? Pretty different I bet.

In four minutes you’ll have done your Tabata workout. How do you feel? Do you have an idea, now, how only four minutes can have such a radical effect on your body?

The Fat Burning Zone Versus The Anaerobic State

The state that the body is put into in regular treadmill work versus Tabata is quite different. In your typical boring hour of cardio on a treadmill you will reach what is called the “fat burning zone.” Your heart rate will be at elevated and you may even reach your target, but, you will not reach the anaerobic state.

Conversely, with Tabata the super maximum intensity of the 20 second intervals brings one into the anaerobic state, which, means without oxygen and is what accounts for the extreme breathlessness. This state facilitates the highest metabolic rate boost, and the far better fat burning results than cardio ever could.

Now you’ll have had a taste of the difference between your regular treadmill routine and a Tabata workout. The one is long, tedious, and of some profit, but, every benefit is slowly and laboriously eked out.

The other is almost enough to kill you, but, it is done before it’s really started. You’ll be able to see the rest of the difference between a regular workout and Tabata four or six weeks after you’ve changed your old-school way for Tabata treadmill—your body should feel lighter, your physical conditioning will have improved, you will melt body fat and your stamina will improve drastically.