You Gotta Tabata

Tabata is a form of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). As the name implies this type of training can be quite intense and is recommended for individuals who currently have an intermediate to advanced level of fitness. While intense, this type of workout generates awesome results and is extremely effective at improving your metabolism for over 24 hours which makes it an incredible form of exercise for fat loss. This workout is named after Dr. Izumi Tabata who, with help from Irisawa Koichi, mainstreamed this style of workout by using it to train the Olympic Japanese speed skating team.

Tabata is an extremely simple yet strenuous exercise technique. It consists of 20 seconds of all out 100 % intensity work, followed by 10 seconds of rest. This 30 second cycle is repeated 8 times for a total of 4 minutes. Although 4 minutes is a short time, this workout can be quite difficult.  This short rest period doesn’t allow your heart rate to fully recover and thus results in significant aerobic and anaerobic gains. A typical Tabata session will consist of four to five of these 4 minute rounds separated by a 1 minute rest period.

One beautiful thing about Tabata training is that the exercise performed at full intensity can be any exercise you would like. See below for a few recommended exercise options. Note that some are significantly harder than others to perform for 20 seconds at a time for 8 cycles. This variety of possible exercises allows you to work your full body each workout and allows for significant variation between workouts.

  • Jumping Lunges
  • Standard Lunges
  • Air Squats
  • Weighted Squats
  • Burpees
  • Mountain Climbers
  • Planks
  • Sit-Ups
  • Crunches
  • Leg Raises
  • Push-Ups
  • Pull-Ups
  • Kettlebell Swings
  • Cardio (Running, Stairs, Rowing, Jump Rope etc.)
  • Curls
  • Dips

Above is just a sample of the many exercises that you could perform. Compound exercises are a good choice, since they work multiple muscle groups at once.

Photo by Elevate Interval Fitness

A good example routine could be:

  1. Air Squats
  2. Mountain Climbers
  3. Jumping Lunges
  4. Sit-Ups
  5. Burpees

If the above workout doesn’t leave you completely exhausted then you did not perform it at a high enough intensity. Try your luck with a Tabata routine and leave a comment below on your thoughts.


4 thoughts on “You Gotta Tabata

  1. Tabata workouts are certainly a love/hate relationship. I enjoy doing deadlift, lightweight-snatch or pullup tabata sets since it requires strength, technique, and you’re absolutely wrecked at the end.


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