Are you using Tabata workouts and interval training in your physical education classes? These training methods are a great way to burn calories, improve aerobic capacity, and keep students moving. Below I’ve outlined the benefits of using these training methods, how I use Tabata in my PE classes, and additional Tabata workouts for PE.
What is Tabata?
Tabata training is one of the most popular forms of high-intensity interval training (HIIT). It’s 4 minutes of high-intensity training, alternating between 20 seconds of max training followed by a 10-second rest for a total of eight rounds. These workouts are fast-paced, fun, and burn tons of calories. It’s named after the researcher who first studied it and is gaining traction across the country. New research from the American Council on Exercise (ACE) shows that it can burn up to 15 calories per minute.
What is Interval Training?
Interval training is simply alternating bursts of intense activity with intervals of lighter activity. For instance, if your exercise is walking—if you’re in good shape, you might incorporate short bursts of jogging into your regular brisk walks. If you’re less fit, you might alternate leisurely walking with periods of faster walking. For example, if you’re walking outdoors, you could walk faster between certain mailboxes, trees or other landmarks.
What can interval training do for me?
According to the Mayo Clinic Staff’s article, Rev Up Your Workout with Interval Training, “Whether you’re a novice exerciser or you’ve been exercising for years, interval training can help you jazz up your workout routine. Consider the benefits:
- Burn more calories. The more vigorously you exercise, the more calories you’ll burn—even if you increase intensity for just a few minutes at a time.
- Improve aerobic capacity. As your cardiovascular fitness improves, you’ll be able to exercise longer or with more intensity. Imagine finishing your 60-minute walk in 45 minutes—or the additional calories you’ll burn by keeping up the pace for the full 60 minutes.
- Keep boredom at bay. Turning up your intensity in short intervals can add variety to your exercise routine.
- You don’t need special equipment. You can simply modify your current routine.
How do I use Tabata workouts in my PE class?
I use Tabata 2 ways:
- With a timer: Using the Tabata Pro app, I project the timer from my iPhone onto the gym wall. All I need to do is hit start and the program timer runs itself through the entire series including warm up and cool down. With the app, I have the choice to use the preset traditional interval series or customize my own interval components.
- Without a timer: Use a Tabata music pre-mix to guide the students through their four-minute interval series. In the search box on iTunes®, type in Tabata workout music, or anything close to that, and you will find tons of pre-set/pre-mixed Tabata music choices on iTunes with voice overs included.
Tabata Workout Plans and Ideas for PE
Here are a few ways I use Tabata during my PE class. It works perfectly for warm-up or cool-down activities.
- Get the students in groups of 4 and have them number themselves, 1-4. Start the Tabata music mix from iTunes®. Instruct each student to choose an exercise for the rest of their group of 4 to do until the 20 seconds is up. During the 10-second rest, student #2 then chooses an exercise to lead. The students repeat this until all 4 students have had the opportunity to teach their peers 2 times each. This will be the 4-minute workout as stated above. As the instructor, you never need to start and stop the music… it’s all pre-set and recorded for you!
- I use the same Tabata music, but I lead the entire class and change the exercises at each interval. I’ll do medicine ball ab exercises, jogging/walking, body bar exercises, stretches, yoga poses etc.
- I use the Tabata Pro app as a rotation device to guide students through various circuits. With the timer, I set the length of the workout to fit my needs. For example, the workout will be 5, 10, 15 or 20 minutes in length. With this approach, you may select your own music to be played while using the app.