Tabata on the bike sounds like a great way to maintain neuromuscular control and some fitness while you're nurturing a niggle. I believe that Tabata and HIIT can be slightly difficult to distinguish between, because Tabata is almost like a sub-category of HIIT. I like to play with both HIIT and Tabata, using them at different times during a season to mix up a rest week or mundane base-training schedule, because who doesn't like some structured working out versus the very necessary but droning miles of MAF or aerobic zones? MAF - not as pretty as all those Instagram runners, but extremely effective, as we know, haha. The goal of Tabata training, as I understand it, is to increase (or in this case maintain) VO2 max and/or push the limit of your max HR (above 100% of VO2, more like 110+) in a short amount of time, as you noted with the rest intervals. In, out, and on with life is what I view Tabata as, reaping the hormonal/fitness/overall health benefits of a 4-minute no-breather. Generally, HIIT may instead be viewed as a tool by which we use repeated efforts to maintain a higher HR over a longer period of time, or increasing aerobic endurance/capacity (sucking in that air) by keeping a mostly elevated HR, increasing recruitment of muscle fibers, resiliency, mental toughness, and building efficiency, etc. – in endurance sports, specifically. The thing about HIIT in real world applications is that it can be highly subjective, depending on how it’s used, and culturally involves explosive power in the gym, and arguably short(er) intervals with aerobic sports, as you noted. There's a lagging effect with these intervals that your HR takes on, not recovering super quickly, but allowing you to be elevated even at rest, again, over a period of time lasting longer than 4 minutes [total], depending on training goals. A lot of people view HIIT as anaerobic, even though intervals can last greater than 30 seconds or so, which is more than glycolysis (your anaerobic energy system) can take, but at least allows you to get up to ~80-90% of your estimated VO2 max. Both a strongly effective in training, but it makes more sense to go shorter, especially if you’re taking care of an injury, niggle, etc. that putting on heavy loads of intervals at 4+ minutes each. Here’s an interesting little exerpt from one of Tabata’s studies - “One group of moderately trained students performed an hour of steady cardiovascular exercise on a stationary bike five times a week. The other group did a 10-minute warmup on the bike, followed by four minutes of Tabata intervals, four times a week – plus one 30-minute session of steady exercise with two minutes of intervals. The results were startling. After six weeks of testing, the group following Tabata's plan – exercising for just 88 minutes a week – had increased their anaerobic capacity by 28% and their VO2max, a key indicator of cardiovascular health and maximal aerobic power, by 15%. The control group, who trained for five hours every week, also improved their VO2 max, but by 10% – and their training had no effect on anaerobic capacity.”
Great reply, thanks! 88 minutes a week, including the warm up and such. That's not bad at all. I like the addition of the 30 minute session. Maybe something like 15 minute warm up, followed by 1 minute hard, then 5 minute recovery, then 1 minute hard, then a cool down. I like it! Of course, this depends on how well you're recovering too. I woke up today feeling a little less than rested, so I'm just doing functional stuff with some middle split work instead of a Tabata.
And I wonder: where would, say, KB swing tabata sets figure in? Is a tabata a tabata regardless of application?