When you create an Oxygen Debt (read: heavy panting) your body has burned off all of the blood sugar (glycogen) it has and needs to replace all of that energy. It does this by burning fat. You don't want to try and burn fat WHILE you are exercising. You want to burn off CARBS as fuel when you are exercising.
Your body has 2 fuel systems, so to speak. There is Aerobic and Anaerobic.
Now, the Aerobic system uses oxygen to burn fuel, and the Anaerobic system doesn't. But one does not replace the other! What happens is you start out by burning fuel with your Aerobic energy system, and once you go past the point where there is enough oxygen in your system to provide Aerobic energy to your muscles, your Anaerobic system kicks in. Think of this as your SUPRA-AEROBIC zone.
To get there, you need to get your heart rate up past what is typically referred to as the 'Target Heart Rate Zone' using common aerobics lingo. You should use a Heart Rate Monitor to measure yourself while doing this program.
You will need to build up your endurance gradually. Therefore, you will not start out doing the Tabata Protocol Workout the way it is typically described.
The original Tabata Protocol Workout requires the following:
• 5 minutes of warm-up
• 8 intervals of 20 seconds all-out intensity exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest
• 2 minutes cool-down
If you research the Tabata Protocol online, the original study conducted at the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo, Japan used highly-trained endurance athletes in peak physical condition. They would do 8 (or more) intervals, keeping the RPMs on the bike over 85 RPMs until they couldn't maintain that level of intensity.
WARNING: Don't try this!
You REALLY need to ease into this workout slowly, and perform it only on cardio equipment, not with weights.
You will find people doing a Tabata Protocol Workout with weights or kettle-balls or other types of resistance. Don't do this.
Your Maximum Heart Rate is normally calculated as 220 Minus Your Age (e.g. if you are 30 yrs. old, your Max. HR would be 190 BPM - Beats Per Minute). If you do the Tabata Protocol like they did it in the above study, you may see your heart rate shoot up over 200 BPM!
You need to gradually build your heart and lung capacity over time.
See your physician before starting any kind of exercise routine
Here's what you need to do when starting out:
The entire beginner workout starts out at 6 minutes long. It breaks down to 2 minutes of warmup, 2 intervals of 30 seconds each. (1 minute of exercise) followed by a 2 minute cool-down.
1) Use a Recumbent or Stationary Bike, Versaclimber, Rowing Machine, Elliptical Trainer or other piece of cardio equipment that allows for gradually increasing resistance, speed, etc. and utilizes the large muscles of your legs.
Treadmills are a possibility, but because you have to rest for 10 seconds between bouts of exercise, the only option when on a treadmill is to step onto the sides and stop entirely, because the machine won't respond quick enough to the required rapid changes in velocity during a Tabata Protocol interval.
2) Wear a Heart Rate Monitor. Record the Max. Heart Rate achieved during your entire workout, and your Recovery Heart Rate (see below)
3) Warm up for 2 minutes at a moderate pace. You can start out with a low resistance and low RPMs (like 30-35 RPMs on a bike) for the first minute, increase the tension on your equipment one notch or increase RPMs slightly for the second minute, gradually raising your heart rate to a moderate level.
4) Start out by doing 2 intervals:
- First, increase the tension one notch above where your warmup ended at, or more if you find your feet are 'flying off the pedals'
- Pedal (or go) FULL SPEED, as fast as you can, well above 85 RPMs (if on a bike) - even over 100 RPMs - for 20 seconds.
- Pedal slow for the next 10 seconds. If you did it right, you SHOULD see your Heart Rate go UP a little AFTER you stop pedaling so fast. This is because of the Oxygen Debt you created, and it signals your body to get more oxygen to your energy system. You will notice yourself panting - this is your body trying to get more oxygen to your lungs to fuel your energy system.
- Repeat 1 more time (20 seconds all out fast, 10 seconds slow). Notice your Heart Rate go up a little after you enter the slow part of the interval each time.
- After 2 intervals, decrease the tension to 0 (lowest setting) on your bike or other equipment and pedal slow for 2 minutes.
- After your 2 minute cool-down, take your pulse or Heart Rate. This is your Recovery Heart Rate (RHR). Record it. You must compare your RHR from workout to workout to know when it is safe to increase intervals.
- Record the Maximum Heart Rate you achieved during your workout. This may have occurred during your 1st interval or your last (usually the last). It will PROBABLY be over the Max. Heart Rate calculated by 220 Minus Your Age. If it isn't, that's OK, especially when you are first starting out - don't overdo it.
5) Do this workout 3 times per week - allow yourself at least one full day of recovery between workouts. Your body needs to heal itself, increase the strength of your heart and lungs, etc.
6) Gradually build up your fitness level by first adding one interval to your workout each time your RHR improves over your last workout until you get to 8 intervals. Then, you can continue to make cardio fitness gains by increasing the tension/intensity when you see your RHR improve.