Get the most out of your karate workout in just 4 minutes


Have you ever wondered how you could get the most out of time when it comes to karate practice? Or maybe how can you structure your training to get the biggest bang for your buck when you have only 20-30 minutes for exercise? In a situation like this, most of us choose to go easy. Maybe an easy run, followed by karate technique practice and stretching. Many athletes had adopted the idea that for a “good” and “effective” training you need more time. And it does not make sense to start a “real” karate practice just for 20 or 30 minutes.

Well those who think so, are wrong. Not only that you can do a quality training in 30 minutes or less, but, most of the time, when talking about high-intensity training, 20 to 30 minutes is all it takes to get great results. And one way to that is by introducing the Tabata Protocol, which will allow you to develop a quality karate workout that will last only 4 minutes.

What is Tabata?

Tabata is a High-Intensity Interval Training protocol (Tabata Protocol) developed by the Japanese scientist  Izumi Tabata. It is a simple protocol made of 20-second maximal effort, followed by 10 seconds rest. And you repeat this cycle eight times, which gives you a total time of 4 minutes.

And what you get out of it? The best from both worlds, anaerobic and aerobic one. This means that simultaneously, you increase your muscle ability to use oxygen by increasing your aerobic capacity (VO2max) AND deal with lactic acid accumulation during a high-intensity workout. And believe it or not, you need both for your karate performance. HOW COOL IS THAT.

Now the ONLY 4 minutes workout is the cool part. However, lest work, means higher intensity. And to get any benefits out of THESE 4 minutes, you have to work like crazy, until you start feeling like you are going to vomit. And sometimes you vomit. I am just kidding. AM I?


What can you do during those 20 seconds?

Let’s start with what you should not do:

  • You should not choose an exercise that engages small muscle groups and only one joint.
  • Do not save your energy for the following repetitions;
  • Do not choose a different exercise for each 20-second work interval (this is the most common mistake. People change the activities and do not get an adequate physiological response that you should from the Tabata protocol)

What you should do:

  • Choose one or two exercises (ideally one such as running, bike or burpees);
  • Go all out on each 20 seconds interval; No mercy;
  • Choose and multi-joint exercises that involve big muscle groups;

It is simple. And remember, LESS IS MORE.

Now let’s see, how can we make this more specific to karate. At the end no matter how fast and long you can run and bike, or how many burpees you can do, you still need to perform that kata or get on the tatami against another opponent.

Here are some workouts to start with, that will give an idea of how to structure your workout. Use your imagination and feel free to experiment. You might come will something great. And when you do, please share it with the rest.

If you want more ideas and information related to interval training, read some of the previous posts.

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