Trail Runner Tabatas

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A lot of people have asked me to give them a workout that will benefit their performance on the trails.  Tabatas are one of my favorite types of workouts.  Never heard of Tabatas?  They are a HIIT (high intensity interval training) type of programming characterized by 20 seconds of hard work followed immediately by 10 seconds of rest, repeated 8 times.  Studies have shown that in just 4 minutes of this format of HIIT, you can increase both your aerobic and anaerobic fitness faster than longer more moderate training.  You can read more about Tabatas and their studies here.

I have been doing them for years.  Here is what I like about them:

  • Even someone with the worst attention span (this lady here) can handle 4 minutes of the same thing.
  • You can pair different movements for a specific target audience.
  • The best of both worlds people: aerobic and anaerobic in the same workout.  Me likey.

So here I have created a nifty little pairing of exercises in Tabata format that will benefit all types of runners from road to trail.  I chose to target muscle groups in the legs, glutes and core, although some of them will work your upper body as well.

Trail Runner TabatasDon’t have a hill at your convenience or stuck in snowpocalypse?  No biggie, do those sprints on the treadmill homeslice.

For those that are new to this type of cross training, a word of caution: go easy on those 20 seconds until you get used to it.  We don’t want you getting injured now do we?  You can increase intensity as you do this more often.

You should be nice and schweaty by the time those 20 minutes are up.  Also, if you are incorporating this into a race training plan, pair it with a few miles at easy pace (in other words, don’t do this the same day you are planning a tempo, interval or long run).  And on that same note, if you are new to these movements, you will most likely be a little sore so I wouldn’t being doing this the day before your 20 miler either.  That’s a good way to make a long run feel longer.  And by good, I mean bad.

If you need a demo of movements, here you go:

Jump Squats

Mountain Climbers


Lunge Switches

Alright guys, let’s get our Tabatas ON.

Happy Running,