One HIIT Style You're Missing (Tabata)

What Is Tabata?

The word Tabata sounds like ciabatta rolls, but we aren’t talking about bread--we are talking about exercise! Tabata is a form of exercise that uses short bursts of high intensity interval training consisting of 8 rounds of 20 seconds of intense work, followed by 10 seconds of rest... lasting only 4 minutes! It can be very time efficient and beneficial for anyone who just can’t find time in the day to get in a good workout. This form of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) was founded by a Japanese scientist Izumi Tabata. He completed several studies concluding high intensity training either had a larger impact or was more beneficial for someone’s aerobic and anaerobic capacity compared to someone who was training at a moderate intensity. 

HIIT training

HIIT training has become very popular within the fitness industry over the past few years for a number of reasons. First, it's quick and efficient, allowing individuals to achieve results similar to that from higher-volume, lower intensity workout. Research has shown that HIIT training specifically allows for 90% less training volume and 67% less time commitment. Not only has this style of training demonstrated improved fitness markers such as aerobic and anaerobic performance, but it has also been shown to improve blood pressure and glucose sensitivity. The biggest drive behind the HIIT craze, though, is the increased total caloric burn due to the intensity of the training session causing excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, also known as the EPOC effect. The EPOC effect is due to the body working harder than during a moderate or low intensity workout.  During HIIT the body needs quick energy such as glucose, lactic acid, and ATP, which are quickly depleted from the muscles, causing the body's energy systems to work harder to replenish and recover post workout. By working harder, your body’s metabolic rate remains elevated for a short period of time after you have completed your workout. 

Tabata is a very specific form of HIIT which takes the guesswork out of how long an interval should be and how long should you rest. An example of a Tabata workout would consist of crunches, pullups, calf raises, and dead lifts. One of the Tabata exercises is performed at a high intensity for 20 seconds, resting for 10 seconds, and then back to the exercise at a high intensity or all-out level. Once all of the 8 sets of the one exercise are completed, it would be followed by 1 minute of rest, and then you would move onto the next exercise following the same cycle of 8 sets of 20 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest. Each round of the exercise will last about 4 minutes, for a total 16 minutes of work.

Tabata is a killer HIIT workout

If completed correctly and can very taxing on the body, and so even though it is quick and time efficient it should not be completed on a daily basis as your body needs time to recover in order to avoid overtraining or injury.  If you want to complete some sort of cardiovascular activity daily, it would be best to mix up HIIT with moderate and low-intensity training, even if it is only for a short period of time, because that is all the time you have. Your body will thank you for it and will actually become better at burning fat as an energy source, which you can read more about in other articles.

Since Tabata is such a high intensity workout, it is important to warm up before the exercises. Dynamic type of stretches such as high knees, arm circles, and butt kicks are suggested before performing Tabata. The stretching will help increase blood flow and improve your performance.

Tabata is going to keep your metabolism elevated and help you to keep burning those calories!

 Therefore, it is very beneficial for weight loss, especially if you have a busy schedule. You should try some Tabata ta look hotta! Once you become a pro at this type of exercise, you can mix and match and make up your own Tabata routines. Don’t worry about someone telling you what to do because you got this on your own! When deciding on what four exercises to choose, some good choices to pick from would be crunches, pullups, calf raises, and dead lifts, as stated before, as well as bench presses, burpees, sprints, stairs, leg raises, push-ups, squats, medicine ball slams, and jumping rope. It all depends on your own individual fitness level, but what is most important is that you push yourself and go all out for every 20 seconds of work.  Below is a sample of a Tabata workout, published in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, to help you get started! Start at minute 1, set 1 of the High Knee Run for 20 seconds at a full out effort, rest for 10 seconds, then other 20 seconds of the High Knee Run, and 10 seconds of rest.  Move on to Minute 2, set 1, completing 20 seconds of the Plank Punch, 10 seconds rest, 20 seconds of the Plank Punch, 10 seconds of rest.  Next Minute 3, set 1 Jumping Jacks for 20 seconds, 10 seconds of rest, 20 seconds of Jumping Jacks and 10 seconds of rest.  Finally, Minute 4, set 1 of Side Skates for 20 seconds, 10 seconds of rest, 20 seconds of Side Skates.  Now rest for 1 minute and repeat the same sequence using the exercises in Set 2, rest for 1 minute, move on to Set 3, rest for 1 minute and finish with Set 4.  

Remember, though: to see the best results with the Tabata training, it is important to have a proper diet to assist your body for the workouts and aid in recovery. You have to treat your body as a machine, and if you do not put the proper fuel in it, then it will not perform at its best. Also, consulting your medical professional is important to ensure you are in good health to perform these exercises.



Fara Rosenzweig. (N/A). What is Tabata Training? Retrieved from:

Gibala, MJ, Little, JP, MacDonald MJ, and Hawley, JA (2012). Physiological adaptations to low-volume, high-intensity interval training in health and disease. The Journal of Physiology, 590(5): 1077 – 1084.

Tabata I, Nishimura K, Kouzaki M, Hirai Y, Ogita F, Miyachi M, and Yamamoto K, (1996). Effects of moderate-intensity endurance and high-intensity intermittent training on anaerobic capacity and VO2max. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 28(10): 1327 – 1330.

Flavia Del Monte. (N/A). The Tabata Revolution Explained: What, Why, and How to Tabata. Retrieved from:

Ember T, Porcari J, Doberstein S, Steffen J, Foster C (2013). Exercise intensity and energy expenditure of a tabata workout.  Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, 12: 612-613.

by Shredz

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