What is the best bang your buck to increase your endurance and VO2 max? Can you do four minutes of intense interval work, and gain more strength and endurance than doing LSD?
Well, that is the claim of the Tabata Protocol. (Abstract here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8897392?dopt=Abstract) The training program calls one set of 8 intervals @ 20s on, 10s off. Those 20s should be ALL OUT! The study quantified this as 170% of your VO2 max. It is very difficult to calculate 170% of your VO2 max while seeing double, so I use the 10% harder than I think I can sustain method.
My typical Tabata workout will look like this:
*On a spin bike or stationary trainer*
10 min easy warm up 50% effort
2x 5min tempo intervals 70% effort
1 Tabata set 8x 20s on, 10s rest
5 min cool down
I know, you are saying that's it? They latest Coach Troy video, (insert name as "body part" + "some method of torture") is much more difficult than that. If done correctly you should be a puddle on the floor after the Tabata set. If you say to yourself, "I could do another set", you did not go hard enough.