Category Archives: Tabata Workout Articles

Treadmills Versus Tabata Workouts

Treadmills are synonymous in our culture with something that is long, monotonous, unchanging. In contrast Tabata workouts are quick, intense, fast moving. If a treadmill regime is the slow steady beam of a torch, a Tabata workout is a shooting star. The two are opposite poles in the workout world, and their philosophies are as different as possible.

At the same time—strange as it may sound—the two are not mutually incompatible. You can actually do a Tabata workout on the treadmill. It’ll be completely different than your usual treadmill workout, though. For one thing, it’ll only take you four minutes. For another, that four minutes may be one of the most intense four minutes of your life.

Before you turn up your nose at the four minutes, let me tell you something—four minutes of Tabata, done just four times a week, will give far more benefits than your hour of steady-state treadmill work, done five or even six days out of every seven.

Don’t believe me? Look up Tabata in an online search engine that goes through scholarly journals, and you’ll see I’m not making this up.

Are you convinced yet?

Okay, ready to turn your brain numbing treadmilling into a lightning-fast Tabata?

Get a stopwatch out, and let’s get to it!

Be aware that this requires a little bit of agility, so if you’re not quite sure on your feet you may want to try another type of exercise for your Tabata workout.

First, turn on your treadmill and straddle it, feet on the edges, while you wait for it to get up to speed. Then get on, start running, and run as fast as you can for 20 seconds. Another twist is to turn up the incline, this will make it more intense.

When the timer gets off grab the handrails and jump back on the edges, straddling again. Stay there for exactly 10 seconds, then get your feet back on and go for it for another 20 seconds! You’ll be repeating the running/resting sequence 8 times.

The twenty seconds of run times have to be as intense as you can make them, so put on a decent uphill and a good speed. The last sessions will be really, really hard to do. Try not to change the speed or incline if you can help it. This pain is what is sculpting your body, changing your muscles from tender lie-abeds to tough, stringy fibers that can handle anything.

After the 20 second intervals you should be gasping for air, cursing the machine and really hating life, if you are not then you’re running is not intense enough. That is Tabata.

How does that compare with your regular Treadmill regimen? Pretty different I bet.

In four minutes you’ll have done your Tabata workout. How do you feel? Do you have an idea, now, how only four minutes can have such a radical effect on your body?

The Fat Burning Zone Versus The Anaerobic State

The state that the body is put into in regular treadmill work versus Tabata is quite different. In your typical boring hour of cardio on a treadmill you will reach what is called the “fat burning zone.” Your heart rate will be at elevated and you may even reach your target, but, you will not reach the anaerobic state.

Conversely, with Tabata the super maximum intensity of the 20 second intervals brings one into the anaerobic state, which, means without oxygen and is what accounts for the extreme breathlessness. This state facilitates the highest metabolic rate boost, and the far better fat burning results than cardio ever could.

Now you’ll have had a taste of the difference between your regular treadmill routine and a Tabata workout. The one is long, tedious, and of some profit, but, every benefit is slowly and laboriously eked out.

The other is almost enough to kill you, but, it is done before it’s really started. You’ll be able to see the rest of the difference between a regular workout and Tabata four or six weeks after you’ve changed your old-school way for Tabata treadmill—your body should feel lighter, your physical conditioning will have improved, you will melt body fat and your stamina will improve drastically.

The Best Pre And Post Workout Fuel For The Intense Tabata Intervals

Having masses of energy before, during and after a Tabata workout can be hard. You need to find foods that give you different types of fuel to suit the situation.

Pre Workout Fuel

As you may already know, Tabata style workouts are extremely quick and intense. They are over within a matter of minutes.

This means that before working out you need to find something that’s quick and easy to consume which provides forms of “fast release” energy. With this type of energy, your body will be able to use it almost instantly hence helping you power through the workout ahead.

What to Avoid:

You may have heard of pre-workout energy drinks. Although there is a time and place for these products, they are not recommended.

This is due to the sometimes dangerously high caffeine content as well as some extremely high amount of sugars packed into these energy drinks. Thinking of drinking a sugar free energy drink?

You may want to think again as even more chemicals and artificial sweeteners are added to these products which are known to, over time, lead to health problems.

Energy drinks and pre-workout products can also become addictive and after using these supplements before every single session you may start to rely on these to get through a workout.

When for any reason you don’t have access to one or want to stop consuming them, it can leave you feeling low throughout the day with withdrawal symptoms let alone having not enough motivation for the gym.

What To Choose:

You have a range of choices when it comes to getting in some quality sources of fast release carbs/energy.

Egg Yolk:

If your Tabata workout in the morning a fantastic example of a breakfast could include some egg yolks. These are rich in B-vitamins which convert food into the energy we need. They also contain vitamin D to maintain strong and healthy bones.

Furthermore, they are also a great source of protein which is essential for the day to help you reach your daily intake of protein.

With this you could include some other items like toast for slow releasing carbs / energy throughout the day or a healthy choice of cereal.

Pumpkin Seeds:

A handful of raw pepitas or dry roasted pumpkin seeds can give you a natural jolt to power through a workout. Pumpkin seeds are a good source of protein, healthy fats and fiber, keeping you feeling full and energized longer.


Fuel For The Intense Tabata Intervals

Coffee is going to give you the caffeine boost that you may be looking for without the added side effects.

But what should I drink? Coffee. Coffee is going to give you the caffeine boost that you may be looking for without the added side effects. You choose how much you use and how small or high the caffeine dose is which is a much healthier and safe way to get all the benefits that an energy drink provides without the sugar/artificial sweeteners.


One of the most important determinants of your energy levels is hydration. Dehydration kicks in much sooner and harder than starvation. Water is responsible for transporting all nutrients in the blood that we use for energy as well as getting rid of waste build-up that leads to fatigue.

Without enough water, we cannot metabolize the food we eat into fuel and ultimately cease to function properly. Always drink plenty of water throughout the day, especially before and during workouts.

Post Workout Fuel

Post work-out fuel is a little easier. You may feel hungry and in need of a full on meal depending on the time of day. If this is the case, make sure to get a healthy, balanced meal consisting of your protein, carbs and fats.

If you’re looking for some slow release energy/carbs try:

Whole Grain Cereal:

Whole grain cereal is a fantastic source of Fiber and can slow the release of glucose into the bloodstream which leads to more consistent energy levels throughout the day and post workout.

Tabata Workouts For Beginners

Just because Tabata workouts are gold standard for Olympic trainees doesn’t mean that they are not suitable for beginners. In fact, Tabata workouts are a great way for a beginner with no money, no equipment and very little time to really get fit. The main thing you need is an ability to push yourself—and a stopwatch.

Timing is key for a Tabata workout, timing, and the ability to go full-power for 20 seconds at a time. Can you do it? If you can, you’re well on the way to a much trimmer, fitter and healthier you.

Cost In Time: 4 Minutes Per Day
(plus 10 minute warm and 5 minute cool down)

One of the best things about Tabata is that it is very flexible. You can choose from a variety of exercises, including, using machines, like exercise bikes, treadmills and elliptical machines.

When you choose your type of Tabata workout, take into account your comfort level with the exercise in question, your current fitness level, and also consider just what you want to achieve with your workout, specifically, what muscle groups would you like to target?

A Tabata workout will have you doing your all-out absolute best, so it isn’t the time to try out new exercise moves or those that are too complicated. But if all you know is pushups, your Tabata sessions don’t have to be limited by that, either.

You’ll just have to teach yourself new exercises during lower-intensity workout times, and after you’ve got them down, incorporate them in your Tabata workout.

Tabata And Running

Suppose you are a runner. Then you may want to start your Tabata adventure by doing a Tabata Running Workout; building up from what you are already good at.

Here is an example of a great Tabata workout with running.

You’re going to sprint, going as fast as you possibly can, as if wolves were after you, for all of 20 seconds.

Then pause for 10 seconds. Stopping straight out might be out of the question, but put the brakes on, walk very slowly, catch your breath, stop if you want to, but, only for 10 seconds.

Then—there are the wolves again—so go for 20 more seconds. When the timer goes off and that 20 seconds are over, you’ve got another breather, and you’ve done ¼ of your workout.

A Tabata workout is 8 cycles long; eight cycles of 20 seconds on 10 seconds off.

And, you know what? It’ll do more for your body than an hour run at a steady pace.

Tabata With Exercise Bikes

You might not be a runner. Other exercises work just as well with the Tabata protocol. If you’ve got an exercise bike at your house, try spinning. Get on there and play a little with the pedals to warm yourself up.

Then try cycling madly for all of 20 seconds.

A 10 second break, then 20 seconds more.

Try to make sure your speed stays at least at 85 RPM for the whole high intensity time.

Stationary biking was actually the first exercise the Tabata method was tried on, and if you are consistent with it, say, four days a week, 4 minutes a day—you’ll definitely see results.

Other Tabata Moves

Bodyweight movements are also great options for Tabata, these include, squats, jump squats, jumping jacks and high knees, all of which are great Tabata workouts.

The important thing to remember is that during your 20 seconds on you are working the hardest you can, the fastest you can, and putting everything you have into it. Your reward is your 10 seconds of rest.

Tabata Versus High Intensity Interval Training: Are They The Same?

The question of the similarities and differences between Tabata and HIIT is an interesting one, so let’s look into this further.

Tabata is high intensity interval training. It’s a subset, a particular form of high intensity interval training (HIIT), but, there are certainly other forms of high intensity interval training out there that are not Tabata. But, HIIT is NOT Tabata, and should not be confused with it when it comes to the correct protocol of how Tabata is executed.

What high intensity interval training (HIIT) means is that you’re doing some physical activity at a really, really intense level for a specified interval, and then you either rest or do a less intense activity for another specified interval.

HIIT Protocol

You go in waves, switching between intense activity and a recovery period. For instance, under one HIIT protocol you might do thirty seconds of intense activity, followed by twenty seconds of moderate-level activity as your recovery block. Then you’d ramp it back up to the really intense stuff, and hold that for thirty seconds more; and when that is done, get twenty seconds of recovery.

Tabata Protocol

Tabata is a particular form of high intensity interval training that many feel gives the body the optimal workout.

The Tabata protocol is much more specific than HIIT. It calls for exactly 20 seconds of high-intensity exercise followed by a 10 second rest, and this sequence is done exactly 8 times. There is no variation.

Also, for those 20 seconds the moves you execute must be at maximum capacity and exertion level, with all the energy possible, at max rate, without any tapering off or slowing down. Then only 10 seconds to catch your breath.

The Main Difference

The main difference between Tabata and HIIT is that the timing of the intervals in the protocol for Tabata is very specific and must be followed. While HIIT may allow for longer intervals or longer rests, and some regimens actually do not use rest periods, but, instead incorporate slower movement as the rest period, Tabata does not.

And the intensity with which moves are executed must be at max force with Tabata, they should literally want to make an experienced athlete and advanced level fitness buffs want to puke.

Tabata workouts are high intensity interval training workouts that take you to a whole new level in fitness.

The Similarities

Both HIIT and Tabata use intense intervals. Both share many of the same moves, though the intensity levels and rest periods vary. Moves, include, burpees, mountain climbers, lunge jumps, squat jumps, intervals on exercise machines, for example, bikes or treadmills.

Other Forms Of HIIT

Tabata high intensity interval training is not the only type of high intensity interval training out there, by any means.

There’s the Peter Coe regimen; a ultra-fast 200 meter run, then thirty seconds of rest, then another 200 meter. This regimen was used by coach Peter Coe in the 1970s.

There is also the Gibala regimen, developed by Professor Martin Gibala and published in 2009 as three minutes warm up, sixty seconds of intense exercise and seventy five seconds of rest. This gets repeated eight to twelve times, three times a week.

The Timmons regimen was developed by Jamie Timmons, professor of systems biology, and published in 2012. Here two minutes of gentle exercise – slow biking on a stationary bike—is followed by twenty seconds of high intensity. The high intensity and recovery intervals are each repeated three times, three times a week.

All of these are examples of high intensity interval training. They are not Tabata exercise regimes, though; the Tabata name is only given to high intensity interval training that follows the exact protocol set out by Tabata in his 1996 paper—20 seconds intensity, ten seconds rest, repeat eight times.

There are some high intensity interval training programs marketed as ‘Tabata style’ which typically use the basic form of Tabata’s ideas, but, mix it up a bit by introducing periods of different exercises in various orders.

The most straightforward Tabata high intensity interval training goes through just one exercise at a time, a practice which enables you to really focus on putting your all into it.

Getting Started With Either Workout

Tabata and HIIT are both advanced level fitness routines. Both of these are highly intensive forms of training that are not typically recommended for beginners. If you want to start, it is better to begin with HIIT on a small scale and work your way up.

Tabata Moves That Target Arm And Leg Muscles

Tabata workouts are high intensity interval training workouts that take you to a whole new level in fitness. Tabata workouts for the arms and legs will fire up the muscles in your limbs and send them crystal-clear messages that the status quo is not enough. These workouts, done regularly, will set your arms and legs squarely on the fast road to strong new muscles and wonderful endurance.

The Tabata Protocol

Before we get into the actual workout, you should know how the Tabata protocol works. What you’re going to be doing is twenty seconds of extremely high intensity exercise—working the hardest you can possibly do, as if your life depended on it. Then, when the timer goes off, you stop dead, and have ten seconds—no more, no less- ten seconds of rest and to catch your breath. Then twenty seconds of that uber-fast, uber-intense, uber-everything activity. Ten seconds of rest again. And on it goes, till you’ve done eight sets, and are feeling, more or less, dead.

Working The Arms And Legs

One Tabata workout that works both your arm and leg muscle utilizes the mountain climbing exercise move and is called the Mountain Climber. Before you start doing it Tabata style, you’ll have to learn how to do the mountain climbing exercise slowly.

Steps For Mountain Climbers

1.You start out in plank; straight arms, palms down flat on the floor, directly underneath your shoulders.

2.Your legs stick straight out behind you, and your feet should be hip-width apart.

3.Keep your toes curled under.

4.Contract your core, and tuck your tailbone under you. There should be a straight line from the top of your head to your heals, and your chin should be tucked in a little.

Mountain Climb Woman

You start out in plank; straight arms, palms down flat on the floor, directly underneath your shoulders.

5.Now take your right knee and draw it to your chest, pulling it in with your abdominal muscles. Don’t let your foot touch the floor, don’t let your shoulders move. While keeping your straight line from head to heels—no swaying hips– return that foot to the plank position.

6.Do the same thing on the left side.

So that’s your basic mountain climber. Practice it a little; actually, practice it a lot, till you could do it in your sleep.  Now, when you do Tabata Mountain Climbers, you need to do this exercise really really fast; as fast as humanly possible, and you need to do that without losing your form.

Are you ready?

Get the stopwatch somewhere where you can see it easily from your plank position, or turn on your Tabata app on your smartphone. Then—ready, steady, go!  Twenty seconds of all-fire mountain climbers, legs moving as fast as they can go, arms smarting under the strain.

Stop! Ten seconds of rest, letting those muscles relax.

Now we’re on again!

Quick intensity, as if your life depended on it. Keep those legs moving. One and one and one and one—faster, faster, till it is a blur. No slacking off. Keep it going as fast as you were for that first twenty seconds.

When your second period is done, you get another ten second rest. But not a second more, and then you go straight into ultra-high intensity mountain climber set three. You’re not done until you’ve done eight rounds—eight rounds of intensity as high as you can rake up.

Then you can collapse. You deserve it. But tomorrow, remember, you’re on again.

Jump Rope

Another great workout for the arms and legs is using a jump rope. No, this is not your kid’s favorite toy, today, there are many great fitness models available for adults in various sizes to accommodate all heights.

Using the jump rope in a Tabata protocol means that you will be jumping fast and constantly for the entire 20 seconds of the intense intervals, then catch your breath for 10 seconds. Repeat 8 times.

Suicide Runs

Suicide Runs

Suicide runs are also great for both arms and legs, though they work the legs more.

Suicide runs are also great for both arms and legs, though they work the legs more. For this routine you need to place two markers about 5 feet apart. This can be a rock, a book, a cone or anything that will sit still.

You will be running back and forth between the two markers very fast and touching each marker each time you reach it.

For Tabata, you will again do 8 sets of 20 seconds runs as fast as possible followed by intervals of 10 seconds of rest. By the way, this is a great exercise to do outside of the Tabata protocol as it really gets the heart racing, and the blood pumping for ultimate weight loss.

More Moves For The Legs

•Box Jumps
•Lunge Jumps
•Squat Jumps
•High Knees
•Dumbbells Squat Jumps

More Moves For The Arms

•Push Ups
•Push Rows
•Medicine Ball Slams
•Chin Ups
•Pull Ups