What Is The Tabata Workout

Tabata is similar to HIIT, high intensity interval training; a type of physical training in which you put yourself through short bursts of extremely high intensity exercise followed by periods or rest.

The Tabata workout is actually much more intense than a session of HIIT and is very specific in the timing of intervals which yield a 4 minute total workout time.

Your body can only perform at its absolute best for a short time, and Tabata training takes account of this.

The 4 minutes are divided into 8 rounds, wherein you workout extremely hard for 20 seconds, take a 10 second rest, and do it 8 times over.

Sound easy? It isn’t.

Tabata training is one of the most demanding exercise programs in existence, and while experts do not recommend it for beginners or those who are out of shape, it is definitely something to work towards.

History Of Tabata

The Tabata workout was developed by a man named Dr. Izumi Tabata, a Japanese scientist who was in charge of Japanese Olympic athlete training.

With a team of researchers, he looked at two different groups of athletes. Both groups used the same form of exercise; biking on a stationary exercise bike.

One group followed a traditional steady-state exercise program; they trained for five days a week, an hour each time. The other group followed a very intense interval training program. They worked out only four days a week, and each workout lasted only 4 minutes with highly intense 20 second intervals followed by 10 seconds of rest.Tabata

After six weeks the two groups were compared.

The group which had taken the traditional route had reasonable results for cardiovascular conditioning, but, the exercise had done nothing for their anaerobic system.

The second group, which had exercised less than five minute a day, had achieved much more cardiovascular conditioning (aerobic system) and their anaerobic capacity was increased by 28% percent.

What does this mean in real life?

That “I don’t have the time to exercise regularly” is no longer an excuse for not being as fit as you should be. All you need is 4 minutes a day—4 minutes, and a little gumption. Tabata training can improve both your aerobic and anaerobic conditioning far more than hours of regular cardio or mid-intensity exercise.

Tabata training is not limited to a particular kind of exercise. The key is the way the exercise is organized; 20 seconds of maximum exertion followed by ten seconds of rest, just enough time to give your body what it needs to go to maximum again and do it eight times over.

During those 20 seconds of intense exercise you absolutely must push yourself to the limit—a mediocre effort, such as, you are used to giving to your regular exercise routine, won’t do it.

If you are disciplined, though, and can make yourself ‘go extreme’, Tabata training can give you a healthy, lean, well-conditioned body with hardly any daily time expenditure.

The Science Behind Tabata

Tabata workouts are a way to condense a full hour workout into 4 minutes and get more benefit than if you’d done the hour version.

Since Dr. Tabata’s study of the Olympic athletes many other studies have been done on the efficiency of Tabata training, and the bottom line is the same:

High intensity interval training using the Tabata method is an extremely efficient method of increasing fitness levels, improving athletic performance, increasing metabolism, and burning fat.

What is the science behind this magical workout protocol?

The science behind Tabata has to do with how your body responds to stress. In laymen’s terms, your body will become fit in response to stresses that require more of it than it is comfortably able to give.What Is The Tabata Workout

In a one hour moderate-intensity level exercise session, your cardiovascular system may be slightly stressed, while your muscles are not at all.

This leads to a slight improvement in the fitness of the cardiovascular system over time, and no change in the muscular system.

High intensity interval training, such as, that recommended by the Tabata protocol, however, stresses both the aerobic and anaerobic systems intensely and that’s why both systems are stimulated to improve.

Since physical activity is generally limited by the ability of both aerobic and anaerobic systems to resynthesize ATP (Adenosine triphosphate is the usable form of chemical energy for muscular activity), what we are essentially talking about here as ‘fitness levels’ is the ability of a system to resynthesize ATP.

During moderate intensity activity there isn’t much problem resynthesizing the ATP to meet the need. During 20 second Tabata high-intensity sessions, however, both aerobic and anaerobic systems are pushed to the limit, and they are both driven to become more fit, more able to release the energy required for extreme exertion.

That’s the science behind high intensity interval training and Tabata training in particular.

Do your own mini-experiment; try Tabata exercises for six weeks, and see what changes you observe in your own physique and physical ability. If you are consistent and do the Tabata regimen correctly, the results will be amazing and very significant.

Health And Other Benefits Of Tabata Workouts

You now know what Tabata is and why it is so effective. But, what, exactly, are the benefits of Tabata interval training? Here we’ll look at some of the main ones.

Aerobic Conditioning

Four minutes of cardio-focused Tabata training gives your cardiovascular system a better workout than a whole hour of similar steady-state exercise. It’s ramping up what is required from the heart and the entire What Is The Tabata Workoutcirculatory system—and when your body sees that something is required of it, it delivers.

Anaerobic Conditioning

Because of the strain you put on your muscles doing those high-intensity bursts of activity, Tabata workouts are ideal for anaerobic conditioning.

Anaerobic exercise is defined as being short in duration, high in intensity that lasts anywhere from seconds to two minutes. Anaerobic literally means “without oxygen” where one is gasping for air during exercise.

Examples of anaerobic exercise are those that use fast twitch muscle fibers, and multiple muscle groups, like jumps, sprints, lunge jumps and mountain climbers.

During anaerobic activity the body is triggered to form lactic acid and this type of training is typically used to build strength, speed and muscle.

But, it is also the ideal state for fat burning.

When you push your muscles to the limit, your body decides to build more to make the ‘next time’ easier. Because of this, Tabata training is a good choice if you want to exchange a little extra fat for some lean muscle.

Fat BurningFatBurning

A high intensity Tabata workout can really burn a large amount of calories in a very short time, and, what’s more, it’ll put your metabolism in high gear for 12+ hours afterwards.

A recent study presented at the 2013 World Conference on Exercise showed that 4 minutes of basic squat jumps done according to the Tabata method burnt the same number of calories as 30 minutes of regular cardio exercise.

Increasing Stamina And EnduranceStamina

We’ve all heard the basic game plan for increasing stamina—do an activity, such as, running, for as long as you feel you can do it, and then do it a little more. While this works, it’s long and tedious.

Tabata gives you the same results in almost no time, because ‘pushing the limits’ doesn’t come half an hour or an hour after your workout begins, but approximately fifteen or eighteen seconds in.

Self-ConfidenceWhat Is The Tabata Workout

Letting yourself be all you can be, even for only 20 seconds, can drastically improve your mood and boost your self-confidence.

There is nothing better than the feeling of accomplishment and pride in working through obstacles and with Tabata, unless, you are an Olympic athlete, there will be obstacles.

But, once you actually complete an entire 4 minute workout, begin to see changes in your body and fitness, you will feel extraordinary.

Minimal Time
One of the greatest benefits of Tabata is that you can fit a 4 minute workout into your day no matter how busy you are. And, for those that do not particularly enjoy exercise and don’t want to spend an hour on a treadmill or elliptical machine this can be a good option.ShortWorkout

But, keep in mind that that 4 minutes is in no way easy, it is brutal, it is very intense, but, it is also highly effective.

Another benefit of the Tabata workout is the regularity with which you can schedule it. A trip to the gym or a regular workout using one of your favorite 40-minute exercise DVDs is good for you when you can do it, but, there are plenty of days you can’t schedule it in.

Think about it. Is there any other way you can spend that 4 minutes that offers anywhere near the same benefits to your personal health and well-being?

No fancy equipment required…
No fancy training required…
No time required…
All you need to do is push yourself to it.

Is Tabata For You?

The idea of doing a routine that only takes 4 minutes is very tempting. But, is it for everyone? Is it for you?

The truth of the matter is that the 20 second intense intervals are brutal and that will put a lot of strain on the body. Some may not even be able to perform the specific Tabata moves for all the 160 seconds of the intensity portion, at least not without practice and building up to it.

For normal healthy people, it is not a bad amount of strain. In fact, it is just the right amount of strain to help stimulate your body into becoming better, stronger, more fit. But, if you have a physical condition that What Is The Tabata Workoutmakes high-intensity exercise a no-go for you, you’re going to have to forego Tabata.

In general, to do Tabata successfully you need to be in good physical shape as this is considered an advanced level of training because of the extreme level of intensity.

If you have a condition that makes you worry about pushing yourself, talk with your doctor first. Explain the Tabata exercise you’d like to undertake, and get his go-ahead first. You need to be able to make yourself really go all out, and if you’re worried about something breaking or popping or going wrong, you’re not going to be able to do it.

What about if you’re pregnant?

It might not be suitable, but, if you’re already active, you don’t need to skip Tabata entirely. Look for Tabata workouts that have been crafted especially for expectant moms. There are programs that have been customized for each trimester.

Check with your doctor regarding your own situation before you start any exercise regime. When pregnant, you do have to avoid doing so much exercise as to become utterly exhausted, and you have to make sure your body temperature doesn’t rise too much. Another important thing is to stay hydrated; drink before or after any kind of workout.

Knee Problems

If you’d like to do Tabata, but, are concerned because you have knee problems or can’t do high-impact sports, don’t worry; there are Tabata workout programs for you too.

You can have high intensity without having high impact—in fact, without having any impact at all. Cycling Tabata regimens (like the original), using a stationary exercise bikes, are one minimum-impact way of having a full-scale Tabata workout.


If you are just an average Jack the main difficulty you may have is really motivating yourself to high intensity during those 20 second interval periods of Tabata. The truth is that many people will not have the motivation it takes to get brutal and do intense moves. It may help if you find an exercise partner, someone who can encourage you to do your best.

Tabata DVD

Some people find it helpful to follow along with a Tabata workout exercise DVD; that way, you have some sort of meter stick, a beat you can follow along with, and an idea of how fast you want to be working so you can push yourself a little harder.

Working Up To It

The best way to get to Tabata is by working up to it, starting with less time, or doing the particular moves slower until you can actually do the whole routine all at once.

Give yourself the crutches you need. A Tabata workout is within your reach; there’s nothing here that healthy people can’t do.

What Parts Of The Body Are Worked By Tabata?

The answer to this question is quite simple—almost every muscle, but, it’s not that every muscle is worked by every Tabata workout. The Tabata protocol is a simple protocol that can be applied to any cardio exercise, so which parts of the body you work depends entirely on which exercise you choose.health

If you decide to do cycling for your Tabata Exercise, you’re going to be working the muscles in your legs and feet—especially, your quadriceps, hamstrings and calves muscles– as well as your entire cardiovascular system and, to a lesser degree your core. If you decide to do running, you’ll be working a similar range: quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, hip flexors, calves, tibialis anterior, and peroneal muscles, as well as, your abdominal muscles and your heart.

You can really focus on your obliques by doing a Tabata workout with Russian twists, and other abdominal muscles will really get the fire if you do ski abs or sit-ups.

Do a full body workout with burpees—that’s one exercise that hardly leaves any muscle in your body untouched.

Another good exercise to use in a Tabata workout is the jump squat. The jump squat workout will fire up your quads, glutes, hamstrings, calves, and core.

Or do a Tabata workout with super quick, super intense jumping jacks. You’ve probably seen them done: start with your feet together, hands at your sides; then jump, spreading your legs at the same time and moving your arms up to culminate in a clap up above your head.

Jump again, back to your arm down position you’re your feet close together. Once you get the hang of this you can do it very fast. This’ll work another long list of muscles: quads, hamstrings, glutes, tensor fasciae latae, sartorius, adductors, pectineus, gracileus in your back; the deltoid in your shoulder, as well as, your supraspinatus, upper pectoralis major, your teres major and triceps brachii as well as the latissimus dorsi in your back. That’s a lot of muscle for a simple move.jumprope

If you’d like to focus entirely on the upper body, though, you can do push- ups or, if you’ve got free weights, an overhead neutral grip press. That’s where you’re standing with your feet shoulder width apart, raising your weight up to the height of your shoulders while your palms face each other. Your elbows should stay below the wrists. Keep pressing the weights upward till your arms are fully extended, then lower back to your shoulder height, and then back up.

As you can see a Tabata workout is not limited in any way as far as the muscle groups it can target. What makes it ‘Tabata’ is not the exercise itself but, the way you go about the exercise—20 seconds of extremely high intensity, followed by 10 seconds rest; repeat 8 times.

It’s this protocol which stresses both the aerobic and anaerobic systems to the utmost, sending clear signals that end in the formation of new muscles and the improvement of your cardiovascular system, as well as, a definite increase in your endurance.

Total Body Transformation With Tabata

TransformationSpending 4 minutes a day, three to four days a week can transform your body from a soft, flabby thing that is utterly unsure of itself to a being of hard-core strength.

Following this regimen will melt body fat, greatly increase stamina, tone muscles and turn sluggish blood flow in the veins to well-circulating life-giving liquid that keeps all those new muscles well fed.

You can get total body transformation with the Tabata protocol, and it’ll cost you nothing in money—unless you have no phone, clock or computer, in which case you’ll need to buy a stop watch.

It’ll cost you about 4 minutes (plus warm up and cool down) a day; just a little longer than the amount of time you spend watching the commercials that come with your morning news program.

Though the cost in time and money is negligible, a Tabata workout is no-one’s picnic. It’ll demand of you an exorbitant amount of grit, determination, and tenacity.

It requires you to push yourself further than you have ever pushed yourself before. Even more than you do in HIIT.

And it requires you to do this repeatedly, and not slack off just because you’ve already pushed yourself to the absolute limit seven times in the last five minutes. If you’re really doing Tabata level intensity you’re going to be completely fried when it’s over.

You will gasping for air, and might feel like dying or puking during the intense intervals.

You’ll feel like you can’t stand up.

But if you do it again tomorrow and the next day, and stick to it regularly, you’ll see major results and be well on the way to a full body transformation.

26 Best Moves For Tabata

Still Interested? You’re still reading so you must be. Great, to get started with Tabata you need to learn the right moves.

First, you need to choose the moves you want to do. In order to engage in a true Tabata workout, intense, but, simple, moves that engage the majority of major muscle groups are best. Those that are too complicated or do not push your limits to the extreme are not Tabata friendly. The good news is that Tabata is very flexible, and so there is a vast variety to choose from.

All of these moves are appropriate in intensity and simplicity.

They should be performed fast, with maximum exertion and continuously without stopping during the intense 20 second intervals with 10 seconds of rest in between to create the ideal “Tabata state” including, the all-important excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) that will burn calories for up to 12 hours after the workout.

Be prepared to sweat, gasp for air, ache, feel like dying and driven to the max of your capabilities. That is Tabata. But, also prepare for the rewards.

Mountain Climbers

How To:

1.Place yourself in a push up position.
2.Keep the arms and body in a straight line from the head to the ankles.
3.Slightly arch the back.
4.Without changing the arch of the lower back raise the right knee towards the chest.
5.Return to starting position and repeat with the left leg.
6.That is one rep.

Alternating back and forth without stopping at maximum speed is the protocol for the 20 second intense interval of Tabata.MountainClimbWomanMountainClimbWoman1

Suicide Runs

Suicide runs are great for Tabata because they work the entire body and they require no special equipment, just some space.

How To:

1.Place two markers 5 feet apart. This can be a cone, a bosu ball, or two rocks.
2.Run back and forth from one marker to the other and touch them each time. Run fast, don’t stop, keep moving from one marker to the other.SuicideRuns

High Knees

The high knees are also great for Tabata as they work major muscle groups and are highly intense in nature. This is a great option for beginners, though, is not likely to be intense enough for intermediate and advanced fitness levels.

How To:

1.Stand still with your feet a hip-width apart.
2.Pull the right knee towards the chest.
3.Go back to the original position and now raise the left knee towards the chest, that’s one rep.

For Tabata this move should be done fast and continuously without stopping in the 20 second intense intervals.High-KneesHighKnees2

Power Skips

Another move similar to this is the Power Skip. Make sure the knees go high and skip fast and steady.PowerSkips


Burpees are very intense and literally use every single muscle in the body. These are advanced level moves and should be practiced diligently before using them in a Tabata routine to get the form right.

How To:

1.Stand up straight and squat, place your hands on the floor.
2.Kick the feet back to a plank position.
3.Assume the push up position.
4.Do a push up.
5.Push off the ground quickly and return to a squat position.
6.Jump as high as you can and then return to a squat for the next rep.

This move must also be done continuously without stopping over and over during the 20 seconds of Tabata intense intervals.Burpee

Jump Squat

Jump squats are also full body very intense moves that elicit the proper body response for the anaerobic state.

How To:

1.Stand straight with the feet spread about a hip-width apart.
2.Point the toes forward.
3.Go into a deep squat.
4.Jump as high as you can using the heels. Shift your weight on the balls of the feet during lift off.
5.Land on the balls of the feet and immediately bend the knees into a full squat, that is one rep.

Tip: Keep the knees from wobbling side to side during the squat and also on landing from the jump.

During Tabata these jumps must be executed continuously without stopping during the 20 second intense intervals.JumpSquat

Dumbbell Front Squat

These squats can also be done with a medicine ball, a Kettlebell or even without any weight. The weight adds intensity and it is a good option for Tabata that requires the utmost intensity for each move.

How To:

1.Stand upright, place the feet a little wider than shoulder width apart. The hips should be over the knees and the knees over the ankles.
2.Hold onto a dumbbell at the center of your chest.
3.Do a basic squat, go deep while inhaling air and unlocking the hips to bring them back as the knees bend.
4.At squat level you should be a little less than 90 degrees from the ground.
5.Use your core muscles to rise back up and drive the heels into the ground to standing position, that’s one rep.

During Tabata these squats should be done quickly and continuously without stopping during the 20 second intense intervals.DBSqaut1DBSqaut2

These squats can also be done while holding two dumbbells in each hand. Again, the reps should be fast, and continuous. This should be done with weight appropriate to your fitness level.DB-Front-Squat

Other Squats

Squats are wonderful moves for all types of purposes because not only do the engage multiple muscle groups, they are also intense enough to elicit the anaerobic state, especially when they are done fast and continuously.

Here are more great squats that can be used for Tabata:

Barbell Front Squat

You don’t have to add the weight plates as is pictured, this totally depends on your fitness level. Bodybuilders will likely to do this, but, you don’t have to. You can even use the barbell alone, which, weighs 45 pounds, this is a good option for ladies in intermediate or advanced fitness stages.barbell-front-squat-abarbell-front-squat-b

Dumbbell Split SquatDumbbell-Split-Squat1Dumbbell-Split-Squat2

Lateral Squatlateral-squat-2lateral-squat-1

Kettlebell SquatKB-Squat1KB-Swuat-2

Lunge Jump

This move takes practice to learn and perfect the proper form, in order, to avoid injury. This should be practiced intently before implementing them into a fast Tabata circuit.

How To:

1.Begin in a standing position with feet together.
2.Lunge forward on to the right foot while bending the knee to a 90-degree angle and keeping your torso vertical.
3.Jump straight up.
4.Switch legs while you are up in the air.
5.Land in lunge form with the left foot forward, that is one rep.

In Tabata these lunge jumps must be executed continuously without stopping during the 20 second intense intervals.LungeJump

Ski Jump

Ski jumps are great moves for Tabata and HIIT, and they provide a big boost to leg strength and also improve balance. They are also plyometric exercises, which, means they train both legs to work in tandem.

How To:

1.Place a yardstick, rope, or even a piece of tape on the floor, anything that can be used as a marker.
2.Stand to the right of the line and place the feet about a hip-width apart.
3.Keep your head up and bend the knees slightly.
4.Jump up as high as you can and jump over the marker line.
5.Bend the knees as you land on the other side to absorb the shock.
6.Then quickly jump back across again.

Keep jumping without stopping as fast as you can through the 20 second intervals.SkiJumps

Hanging Leg Raises

Hanging leg raises are great Tabata moves when they are done fast and continuously as they can quickly bring the anaerobic state, and also work the abs quite nicely.

These are especially good for those in early stages of fitness levels because they are not as complicated as full body moves like Burpees and they are intense enough for beginners.

How To:

1.Hang from a chin-up bar.
2.Extend both arms at arm’s length.
3.Raise your legs by concentrating on the ab muscles until the core is at a 90-degree angle with the legs.hanging-leg-raise A
4.Come back down and repeat.hanging-leg-raise B

Single Arm Dumbbell Swing

This is a great low impact move that can quickly make you breathless as it engages major muscle groups.

How To:

1.Stand tall and place your feet a shoulder-width apart.
2.Hold one dumbbell in front of the hips.
3.Slightly bend the knees and place the dumbbell between your legs.
4.Maintain the slight knee bend as you push your hips back and then thrust them forward.
5.Allow the weight to swing forward until it reaches the spot just between the abs and the chest.
6.Keep the hips back as you continue to swing.

Repeat this move continuously without stopping in a fluid motion during the intense 20 second Tabata intervals.SingleArmDBSwing

Kettlebell Swing

The Kettlebell Swing is a wonderful low impact move that works many major muscle groups. It naturally elicits the anaerobic state and makes the perfect move for the Tabata protocol. Beware that the Swing also takes time to master and so you should practice form and take care with all safety precautions.What Is The Tabata Workout

How To:

1.Place the kettlebell on the floor.
2.Stand within reach behind it and place your feet a shoulder-width apart.
3.Push the hips back and bend the knees to 45 degrees.
4.Grasp the handle of the Kettlebell and tip it back toward the body at an angle.
5.Sit a little deeper and look forward.
6.Rip the kettlebell off the floor with force and take it back between the legs.
7.When the kettlebell can go no farther, stand up fast and snap the hips forward. The hip is what is meant to move the weight of the Kettlebell and NOT the arms.
8.Once the hips snap forward, let the kettlebell swing to chest level while contracting the glutes, abs, quads and lats. This should be one fluid motion where the hips drive the weight and the body forward.
9.Allow the kettlebell to swing back down on its own until it is at the genital area.
10.Then quickly bring it back between the legs and repeat the sequence.

During Tabata the swings must be done continuously without stopping during the 20 second intense intervals.

Form And Safety

1.The KB swing is not a squat, so the knees should not be bent much. The thighs should not be parallel to the floor and the arms should not be worked, they should only be used to guide the Kettlebell.
2.Hinge the hips and bend the knees by default.
3.Your arms are only being used to guide the kettlebell.
4.Make sure to have the proper space without people or furniture in the way, so, if you should drop the KB no one will get hurt and nothing will be damaged.

Jump Rope

Jumping rope is one of the best moves for Tabata because you are using your entire body, and jumping, so major muscles are being worked and jumping is ideal in facilitating the anaerobic state.

Keep jumping non-stop as fast as possible during the 20 second intense intervals of Tabata.JumpRopeMale

Tuck Jump

Tuck jumps are very efficient for Tabata as they quickly raise heart rate and bring on the anaerobic state. These are not low impact, and maybe difficult for beginners.

How To:

1.Stand with your feet about a shoulder width apart.
2.Bend the knees slightly
3.Jump with force into the air and tuck your knees at your chest.
4.Come back down to the floor. That is one rep.TuckJump

Rowing Machine

Using a rowing machine is a great option for Tabata because it engages the arms and muscles and when done properly can quickly bring about the anaerobic state.

How To:

1.Strap the feet into the foot stretchers.
2.Sit straight up and grab the rowing machine’s handles.
3.Roll forward just until your knees are bent and arms are reaching forward, this is known as the catch or the starting position of a rowing machine.
4.Quickly with force drive the legs back.
5.Once the legs are completely extended, swing back and pull the arms until the handle is at the rib cage, this portion of rowing is known as the finish.
6.This is one full rep.

For Tabata workouts repeat these rowing reps quickly without stopping for the full 20 second intense interval portion. Keep rowing, and rowing over and over without any breaks.RowingMachine


How To:

1.Get into a plank position and place the hands slightly wider than shoulder width.
2.The elbows should remain close to the body throughout the move.
3.Ground the toes into the floor.
4.Use the core to lower the body in one straight line until your chest touches the floor.
5.Return back up to start position, that’s one rep.

Push-ups need to also be done continuously and quickly during Tabata without stopping in each 20 second intense interval.Pushup2Pushup1

Easier Push Ups

If you are unable to do push-ups on the floor, they can be done on stairs, which is much easier. Also there are wall push-ups, and while those will not be intense enough for Tabata, it is a way to work up towards that goal by working the upper body and strengthening those muscles so you can eventually do the floor push-ups.

Push Rows
These also make great Tabata options when done quickly with fast intense reps.PushRows

Medicine Ball Slam

The medicine ball slam is a dynamic, compound exercise, which, is low impact, but, is intense and develops power and strength with a great emphasis on the core.

Wait, you promised me this was going to be free. What about that medicine ball? Well, that’s true, a medicine ball does cost something, but, you can get one online for about $12. And, remember there are plenty more moves to choose from, so, you don’t have to do this one.

How To:MedicineBallSlam

1.Stand with your feet about a shoulder width apart.
2.Hold the medicine ball above your head.
3.Squat down, letting your buttocks move back as you keep your knees over your ankles.
4.Forcefully slam the ball to the floor as hard as you can.
5.Catch the ball as it rebounds or pick it back up and repeat from the starting position, that’s one rep.

Practice it till you’re comfortable enough to keep the correct form at high speeds.

Then set your timer and go! You’ll be doing 20 seconds of extremely high speed, extremely high intensity medicine ball slams. Then you HighBoxJump1get to rest 10 seconds. Then you go again, for 7 more repetitions.

Box Jumps

Box jumps require specific equipment known as commercial plyometric boxes or at the very least you must use some type of base that can hold your weight. These are also high impact moves, and are typically best reserved for intermediate or advanced fitness levels.

How To:HighBoxJump2

1. Stand in front of the box.
2.Place the feet directly under the hips and the hands at your sides.
3.Bend the knees and hips in preparation for the jumping position, this is the starting position.
4.Keep your back straight and look straight ahead.
5.Jump up onto the box while swinging the arms.
6.Land on the center of the platform and absorb the impact with the legs.
7.Return to starting position by jumping backwards off the box. That is one rep.

For Tabata you will need to do continuous jumps for 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds, repeat 8 times.

Safety Tips:BoxJump2BoxJump1

1.If you are not going to use a commercial plyometric box, you must be sure that the platform you do use can hold your weight and be sturdy enough to withstand these high-impact jumps.
2.Do box jumps while you are fresh, rested and before any type of strength training.
3.This exercise should not be done without proper form and speed.
4.The goal should always be minimal contact time with the box, the jumping is key.

Russian Twist Feet Elevated

How To:

1.Sit on the floor.
2.Bend the knees.
3.Lift the feet a few inches off the ground, the back should be at a 45 degree angle.
4.Twist your core from one side to the other. That is one rep.

For Tabata purposes this is a good low impact option, make sure to do them fast, but, accurately, which means using the core to pull the body side to side.RussianTwists

Adding Intensity

Hold a medicine ball, Kettlebell or plate weight with both hands to increase intensity.RussianTwistsWeight

Sit Ups And Crunches

These work great too, especially for beginners, but, may not be intense enough for those at advanced fitness levels.

Make sure to do them fast and continuously for 20 seconds without stopping.SitUps

Tabata On Exercise Machines

Tabata intervals can be done on various exercise machines, like bikes, treadmills and elliptical trainers. If you recall the original Tabata experiment was done on exercise bikes.Treadmill

The key is to make sure the intense intervals are done at the most intensity, speed and resistance that you can handle.

Regular jogging or peddling is not Tabata. You have to push yourself to the max for 20 seconds, rest for 10, then repeat 8 times.

To get the authentic Tabata experience—and results—you could start by going back to the original template. Hop on a spin bike similar to what was used in the Ellipticalstudies from the late 1990s, warm up for 10 minutes, and then crank it during each 20-second interval. If you can stomach it and your cycle offers it, increase the resistance, uphill settings work great.

Getting Started With Tabata

Getting started with Tabata is an exciting time, but, there are some important things to consider, as this is an intensive form of exercise and should especially be carefully considered by beginners.

Assessing Current Fitness LevelsFitnessLevels

Your current fitness level will determine at what point and how to go about starting Tabata routines. This is due to the body being able to handle different amount of stress at any one time.

Whether you have been exercising for years or you are relatively new to fitness, Tabata can be tailored to suit you and your current abilities.

The first thing you will need to do is figure out current fitness level. This can be pretty tricky, it is recommended that you start at a beginner’s level if you are unsure and progress accordingly based on self-assessment on whether or not you feel like you are capable of more.

Understanding The True Tabata

It is a fact that Tabata can deliver unbelievable results with no time expenditure. Is it really true, and is it something a beginner can do?

Well, yes, and yes, but, there’s something about it you need to know. Nothing in life is free. While Tabata may be the shortest of all exercise regimes—who can beat 4 minutes?

That 4 minutes may well be the longest 4 minutes of your life. If you do it right, it’ll be a 9 on the Richter scale.Richter

Think you’re made of stiffer stuff? Izumi Tabata, the founder of the method, first tried it out on world class athletes, and it was really hard for them. He published it because it was so evidently a superior method of getting results, but, he didn’t expect many people to be interested in it. He knew most of us are not masochists, and he knew his workout was one only a masochist would enjoy.

One thing he misestimated—the selling power of quick, and the strong desire many hold to have strong, healthy bodies we can be proud of.

Now thousands of people use what they call the Tabata method. They don’t all get the promised results, but, that’s only because they aren’t doing it right.

A Tabata workout is never supposed to be easy, even for those who are in elite shape.

Many get this part wrong, and confuse it with the typical HIIT intervals, and so the concern is that people aren’t using the Tabata protocol correctly when the 20 second intense interval moves are too slow to bring on EPOC and the ideal anaerobic state.

This typically occurs when the moves are too complicated, or do not engage enough muscle groups to deliver the intensity required.

In The Beginning

Tabata style workouts are generally based off of 20 seconds work with 10 seconds rest. You have two options to make this easier if you are just starting out.

You may find it near impossible to fully exert yourself for 20 seconds. You can try decreasing the working intervals to 10 or 15 seconds if you find it too difficult.

Due to everything being extremely fast paced you may want to consider lengthening your rest time as this will allow you a little more time to get your breath back before getting back into the intense interval.

Be careful not to increase the rest too long on a permanent basis or it’ll start to turn into a HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) style of workout.

Speaking of HIIT, it advisable to begin with HIIT workouts, which, are not as intense as Tabata, but, are still hefty, and are a great stepping stone to Tabata.

Recommended HIIIT programs on DVD include, P90X line, Dr. Axe’s BurstFitFire, Insanity and Xtrain Fit.

Another good option is to work up to the 4 minute circuit by doing less intense cardio workouts daily, or by practicing the moves at a slower pace until they are perfected and can be executed in the highly intense Tabata style.

And, lastly, choosing the right level of Tabata moves that you incorporate into your routine is another important consideration for beginners. There are many moves to choose from, and so you can choose from less complex moves and graduate up as it gets easier.

Beginner Tabata Moves

The beauty of Tabata workouts is that you can choose almost any exercise and make it fit into the Tabata style of exercise. To make it easier to start you can try exercises, such as, cycling or “sprints” on an interval trainer. These are two great examples as the movement is fixed.

This means that if you struggle to keep good form for 20 seconds of the work period you will not risk injury with these two exercises as it’s a lot harder to break good form because the exercise is on a machine that is in a fixed position.

Intermediate Tabata Moves

Some intermediate examples of Tabata would be moves like the bodyweight and dumbbell squats, jump squats, for the lower body and push-ups and pull ups for the upper body.

These exercises are great for intermediates as the exercises are still focusing on a specific part of the body while integrating balance and core strength, as well as, other key skills to develop your workouts that much further.

Advanced Tabata Moves

Examples of advanced forms of Tabata would be Burpees, Kettlebell swings, box jumps and lunge jumps. These moves make use of the entire body and will therefore feel a lot more difficult.

The Burpee integrates the push up, the squat and explosiveness all in one exercise and to keep this going consistently in the 20 second work period can prove to be quite challenging.

The kettlebell swing requires focus, strength, power and balance, as well as, using the full body to keep everything working together.

Best Tabata Workout For Beginners

What is the best Tabata workout for beginners, and how can you make sure that you really are doing it right?

If you’ve got a stationary bike at your home, a spinning Tabata might be a very good way to get started, if not the best way.ExerciseBike


1.Pedal at high speed or incline with intense resistance and full force for 20 seconds.
2.Rest for 10 seconds.
3.Repeat 8 times.

Now that sounds simple, you say. Is it really the magic pill? It is.

But, it’s not as simple as it sounds.

The thing is, for those 20 second intervals you really need to be going at maximum intensity.

Really, maximum intensity. The best you can do. The fastest you can do. Pushing down on those pedals the hardest you can.

We tend to hold ourselves back a bit, knowing that if we do our utmost, we’ll fizzle out quickly; we won’t be able to keep it up. That’s okay. You don’t have to keep this up any more than 20 seconds at a time.

But keep it up, keep going, keep going fast, faster, faster, you can make it faster… and do that every time.

Every 20 second interval of your 8. Even the 8th.

No slacking off just because your legs are beginning to have a decided resemblance to rubber bands. And you should be gasping for air at each and every interval.

That’s the cycling Tabata.

1.You should do a 10 minute gentle cycling beforehand, to get yourself warmed up.
2.You should do at least a 5 minute gentle cycling after, to get yourself cooled down.

If you all out collapse at the end, that’s okay. That’s what happens after a Tabata.

What you’ve just done is stimulated your muscles in a way that they’ve never been stimulated before.

You’ve pushed them to new limits.

They’re going to react now with pain, but, if you keep this up for three or four days a week, you have a new body to look forward to.

10 Tabata Best Practices

To get the most out of this intense and highly effective workout, here are some tips and guidelines to follow:

1.As part of the original protocol a 10 minute warm up and 5 minute cool down is highly recommended.
2.Use full body exercises that engage many muscle groups.
3.Feel free to use free weights, bodyweight, weighted vests or ankle weights as this will increase intensity.TabataTips
4.Go all out in the 20 second intense intervals, never slow down, and push yourself to the limits.
5.Except to be gasping for breath, literally gasping, this is where you want to be.
6.Make every attempt to find your breath in the 10 seconds of rest, good luck.
7.Cool down for at least 5 minutes.
8.Prepare to get really sweaty.
9.Don’t give up if the first, second or third time you do a Tabata routine you feel like you want to die or throw up or you can’t finish. This is typical.
10.Don’t give up if the fourth, fifth or sixth time you think you can’t do this ever again. You can, you will, you should.

Precautions & Safety for Beginners

Always be sure to stretch before any Tabata workout. The aim of Tabata sessions are to be quick and efficient, but, do not compromise potential injury for time.

Try to put an emphasis on warming up and stretching those muscles that you will be primarily working in the exercise of your choice.TabataSafety

A great way of making sure that you are completely ready for the high intensity work is to do the exercise you are about to perform lightly and at a slower pace for a minute or two to make sure you can keep the correct form.

Never do intermediate or advanced moves until you are at the proper fitness level in order to avoid injury and also burnout that can result in quitting all together.

One last safety precaution that you will need to follow is to make sure the location that you are going to do the Tabata workout in is suitable. This means checking the surface e.g. doing push-ups on concrete can damage the wrist, as well as, making sure there is enough room to do the moves you plan to implement into the routine.

Final Thoughts

Tabata can be a wonderful addition to a regular fitness routine. It is fast, but highly efficient and can bring tremendous results for overall fitness, endurance, heart health, strength and body transformation.

Be sure to heed all safety precautions and never risk injury to yourself.

Remember that a proper diet is also essential for weight loss, and ongoing fitness. Choose whole foods with an emphasis on lean proteins, vegetables, whole grains and good fats.

Eat small meals every 3 hours, instead of 3 big meals. This will keep the metabolism revved in addition to the positive effects on metabolism from the Tabata training.

Lastly, don’t give up in reaching your fitness goals. You can do anything you set your mind to, and even if it takes 6 months to be able to do a while 4 minute workout, then reach for it, you will feel amazing and proud!

21 Responses to What Is The Tabata Workout

  1. Hi, I do think this is an excellent website. I stumbledupon it 😉 I will revisit once again since i have saved as a favorite it. Money and freedom is the best way to change, may you be rich and continue to help other people.

  2. Harry says:

    I read about a 37-year-old Torontonian who, after her pregnancy, wanted to get back on the bike, but working out for an hour suddenly became an unobtainable luxury in a harried life that included an office job, child care and household chores. Frustrated, she got in touch with a personal trainer – and found what she now considers to be the perfect solution: a four-minute workout. I believe that this workout regimen can be the perfect solution for me as well.

  3. Harold says:

    Among the variables that a coach or a trainer has to consider when doing one-on-one sessions or group sessions, age and gender are the most apparent. What kind of psychological or emotional differences exist between men and women who are walking into a gym for the first time? This is where I think a workout regimen such as Tabata, which one can perform at home, becomes very useful and attractive to those who do this training on a regular basis.

  4. Jason says:

    Like most persons who describe themselves as ‘curvy’, I’ve searched for years to find a way to get fit and lose weight that actually works. I’ve been stocky most of my adult life, I’ve tried everything from aerobics to zumba – without success. Maybe it’s because I have no willpower: I never say no to a biscuit, for example. Or perhaps it’s my lack of motivation – even though I can find plenty if cake is involved. All these play a part, but what I lack more than anything is time and patience.

  5. Richard says:

    Soon everyone will be familiar with the term, “Tabata. It may soon become a household name because this intense style of workoutis gaining traction across the country. And new research from the American Council on Exercise shows that it can burn up to 15 calories per minute. Trainers today commonly practice the 20-seconds-on/10-seconds-off format with any type of exercise. I’ve read that Tabata-inspired workouts tend to include exercises like push-ups, split squats, box jumps, burpees, jumping rope, and jumping jacks.

  6. Larry says:

    The good thing about this type of exercise regimen is that you can do it at home and at a pace that you can handle. Of course you want to push yourself in order to get maximum results, but if you are out of shape, you can still do this at a pace that is endurable. As one fitness guru always says, “just do your best and forget the rest! You’re not a professional athlete whose going to get criticized whenever you have one of those days when you just want to dog it.

  7. Adam says:

    I wonder how many people visiting this site have decided on their New Year’s resolution. If the over-crowded gyms are any indication, the most popular resolutions are always a bit body-centric: losing weight or exercising regularly. But the reality is that making those proclamations permanent can be a struggle. Institute the “three-week rule,” says one fitness and nutrition expert. He advises to turn a new fitness routine into a fitness regimen by giving it a test-run for at least three weeks. I’d say in that window of time, most will concur that Tabata regimens are very beneficial.

    • Admin says:

      Adam that’s very good advice. It’s very difficult just to get started. But once you do…just try and stop me. And yes, Tabata regimens are extremely beneficial.

  8. Scott says:

    Some persons say that just like you would not run a marathon – or even a half marathon – without training, you also shouldn’t probably go all out on a HIIT workout overnight. According to some doctors, you need to be careful when starting or restarting an exercise program. “Beginning with HIIT may increase the chance for injury and muscle soreness, according to some socalled fitness experts. I can’t attest to that because when I started this type of training, I was already experienced with working out.

    • Admin says:

      Yes, Tabata is not recommended if you’re out of shape just starting to workout. Better get yourself in shape first then give it a go.

  9. James says:

    The fact that fitness results are possible with just 4 minutes of work is very encouraging for me. What is even more exciting for me is that I already have years of experience with all types of workouts. I have an arsenal of different types of exercises to choose from. All I need to do is establish my routine and then stick with it 4 times per week. I’m looking forward to putting this exercise philosophy to the test.

  10. James says:

    My friend is one of those persons who still settles for average results from antiquated training routines that waste unnecessary time, for the most part. Three times a week, she gets up early, slips on her running shoes, and ventures out into the cool air, running at a strong, steady pace. If it’s cold or rainy, she heads to the gym and hops on the treadmill. The routine is always the same: 30 to 60 continuous minutes at an even speed.

  11. John says:

    I believe in high intensity interval workouts. I have been doing this type of training and getting good results. If I hadn’t already experienced good results with 15 minute and 30 minute high intensity intervals, I would have a hard time believing that a 4 minute workout could get good results. But I have gotten good results. I suppose consistency is the key. How many days per week do you have to do this 4 minute workout.

  12. Mary says:

    I happen to like HIIT workouts. I have done it and the benefits are obvious. I find this type of training to be very effective for burning fat and toning the muscles. I do want to try this Tabata workout. It sounds as if it is an improved and refined version of the HIIT style workouts. I can’t wait to get started. The fact that it is only 4 minutes is very appealing to me and anyone who doesn’t have that much time to dedicate.

  13. Curtis says:

    Like you said this is something to work towards but for right now I am not in shape enough to do something like this with a heart attack. I was about a year ago but I have had some life changes that have caused me to gain weight and now I have to start over again. Thank you for giving me something to work for though this will help motivate me.

    • Admin says:

      Thanks Curtis for your remarks. I’m sorry to hear about your health issues. Getting your health back won’t be easy. When you’re ready… go for it big time. Good luck and God speed.

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