What is Tabata Training and How It Works?

If you are a fan of HIIT (high-intensity interval training), you have probably heard about Tabata Training as well. This type of workout will get your heart rate up in a short period of time and it will help you burn more calories during and after the workout in comparison with other type of training. It will also help you build endurance and it will get you into shape. 


Like in the case of HIIT workout, you need to follow a work-to-rest ratio in Tabata Training to get the results you are looking for. For this type of workout, you will perform an exercise for 20 seconds at a high intensity and you will rest for 10 seconds.

The History of Tabata Training


Tabata Training was designed by a Japanese scientist Dr. Izumi Tabata and a team of researchers from the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo. He conducted a research on two groups of speed-skating athletes for six weeks. While the first group of athletes trained at a moderate intensity level, 5 days a week, 1 hour / workout; the second group trained at high intensity level for 4 days a week, 4 minutes and 20 seconds / workout.

The results showed that the first group managed to improve their aerobic system, however there wasn’t a big difference in their anaerobic system. In comparison, the second group increased their anaerobic system by 28% and the improvements of their aerobic system were much better.


Tabata Training Program


Tabata training is a high-intensity interval training that lasts 4 minutes. However, these will the hardest and longest minutes you have experienced while working out. If at the end of the workout you don’t feel out of breath, then you probably didn’t go hard enough.

Here’s what you need to do:



  • Choose an exercise (like burpee, mountain climbers, squats, high knee jog, jump lunges, skipping, push-ups, sprints, etc.) and perform it at high intensity (as hard as you can) for 20 seconds.
  • Rest for 10 seconds
  • Repeat the exercise 8 times (this will account for 4 minutes)

You can choose to focus on one exercise if you are at beginner level, or if you feel more confident you can mix the exercises. So, you can focus on one area you want to work out or you can do a full body Tabata training. No matter which workout you choose, make sure you give your all and you stick to the 20 - 10 ratio.

Benefits of Tabata Training


  1. This is a workout that can be done at any level you are. Even if you don’t have much experience, you will start at your own pace and gradually you will increase the intensity as you become more fit.
  2. Like in the case of HIIT, this training gives you the flexibility to work out with or without equipment. Hence you are not restricted by the location either: you can train at home, at gym, in the park, etc.
  3. If you don’t have much time to train every day, Tabata is a great option for you as it’s a 4 minutes’ workout if you are a beginner and it can go up to 30 minutes if you mix your exercised and you go for a longer circuit.
  4. If you add weight based exercises into your Tabata training you can transform this into a resistance training. In this way, you can also focus on building muscles and reduce body fat. 


Tips and tricks


  1. Make sure you do your warm up before (as you should do before each workout) to ensure you avoid any injuries
  2. If you go for more sets, make sure you rest for 1 minute between each set
  3. Don’t overdue this. You shouldn’t do more than 2 Tabata trainings per week and you should rest in-between the workouts. 
  4. If you are new to this training you can start with 4 – 5 cycles (1 cycle is 4 minutes plus the breaks) and go for a 20 – 20 ratio (20 seconds workout + 20 seconds rest). You can gradually decrease the rest time and increase the number of cycles once you feel fitter.

Though this workout helps you get in shape in a short time, it is important to know your own fitness level and adjust this training to your needs, with the right type of exercises and intervals. I would also like to advise you to check with your doctor before starting Tabata Training, so that you make sure it is absolutely safe for you.
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