What is a Tabata workout?
Tabata training is one of the most popular forms of high-intensity interval training (HIIT). It consists of eight rounds of ultra-high-intensity exercises in a specific 20-seconds-on, 10-seconds-off interval.
The name Tabata comes from the man who invented it – Dr. Izumi Tabata, a Japanese physician and researcher. He conducted a study using an interval-based training model. His objective was to see if athletes would benefit from a 20/10 session repeated eight times. 20/10 means 20 seconds of all-out exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest. This adds up to four minutes total.
The Tabata Program
Each exercise in a given Tabata workout lasts only four minutes, but it’s likely to be one of the longest four minutes you’ve ever endured. The structure of the program is as follows:
Workout hard for 20 seconds
Rest for 10 seconds
Complete 8 rounds
You push yourself as hard as you can for 20 seconds and rest for 10 seconds. This is one set. You’ll complete eight sets of each exercise.
Some of the benefits of Tabata style training include:
- fat loss through metabolic rate
- muscle tissue retention
- anaerobic and aerobic capacity increase
- time savings (if you do true 20-minute Tabata)
Tabata is great to get a quick workout in if you’re short on time, you need to switch up your routine, or you want improve endurance and speed. Incorporate this type of workout into your fitness routine and produce results.
You can do pretty much any exercise you wish. You can do squats, push-ups, burpees or any other exercise that works your large muscle groups. Kettlebell exercises work great, too.
An example of a Tabata workout looks like this:
- Push-ups (4 minutes)
- Bodyweight Squats (4 minutes)
- Burpees (4 minutes)
- Mountain Climbers (4 minutes)
Start with push-ups. Perform them for 20 seconds at a high-intensity. Rest for 10 seconds, and then go back to doing push-ups for 20 seconds. Once you complete eight sets of push-ups, rest for one minute.
Next, move on to squats and repeat the sequence of 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off. Once you finish eight sets of squats, rest for one minute, and then do burpees. After burpees, finish the workout with mountain climbers.
Cautions About Tabata Training:
- Tabata training is not for beginners. Tabata training is best for advanced exercisers who are comfortable with high-intensity exercise. The intensity accumulates, peaking near the end. It’s easy for the intensity to become too challenging if you’re not used to this type of training.
- If you go all out during the high intensity intervals, the 4-minute cycle will feel like the longest, most uncomfortable 4 minutes of your life. It may be too intense for some people.
- There is always a greater risk of injury when you’re doing high-impact, high-intensity exercise. Minimize that risk by ensuring you’re fit enough for this type of training. This would include working your way up to the intensity and duration. Also make sure you completely warm up before you start into your Tabata routine.
- Four minutes of the same exercise, even with rests in between, can get monotonous and quickly fatigue your muscles. This can cause your form (and motivation) to suffer if you aren’t mentally prepared!