What Is Tabata Training, and Is It Right For Me?

Are you preoccupied with many tasks daily but still want..

What Is Tabata Training, and Is It Right For Me

What Is Tabata Training, and Is It Right For Me?

Are you preoccupied with many tasks daily but still want to get a good workout every week?

There are many fitness trends in existence, and there will be many more in the future; but, maybe, what you are looking for is something that could yield maximum results in the shortest possible time.

What if we tell you that it is possible to exercise effectively in just four minutes? Start making your fitness goals happen by adapting the research-backed Tabata training method.

Tabata training offers excellent performance benefits in less time compared to traditional workouts. 

Properly implementing Tabata means that you will have to push yourself to the limit. So it may not be suited for those who have no prior experience with intense exercises.

However, it is a versatile training method that can be adjusted according to your fitness level.

A quick history of the Tabata Training

Named after Japanese professor Izumi Tabata, Ph.D., Tabata training was born out of a study conducted by Prof. Tabata and his research team at the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo in 1996. 

Dr. Tabata’s team was hired by the then-Japanese speed skating team head coach to evaluate the effectivity of their established workout program by comparing the results of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and moderate-intensity training.

The team divided their subjects into two groups. Group one was composed of athletes that trained five days weekly for six weeks at moderate intensity, with workouts that lasted an hour.

The second group trained at high intensity for four days a week within the same period. Each exercise lasted 4 minutes, 20 seconds, including 10 seconds of rest between every set.

The first group showed improved cardiovascular systems (aerobic system) but slight to zero improvements on their muscular systems (anaerobic system). The second group, meanwhile, had better cardiovascular results and saw a growth of 28% on their muscular system capacities.

The results, published in Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise, indicates that the athletes who adapted HIIT workouts saw improvement in both their aerobic and anaerobic capacities. With improved V02 max (the human body’s ability to effectively utilize oxygen)—translating to better performance on the skating rink.

What Tabata training is

Tabata training is a form of HIIT, which involves doing timed, interval method workouts with all-out effort.

Intended to keep your heart rate up, Tabata is designed in such a way that it requires the subject to alternate between 20-second intervals. Followed by 10 seconds of rest, and repeating it for over eight times to fully maximize the allotted 4 minutes for the whole routine.

Safety precautions before doing Tabata

The Tabata training method is quite advanced. Therefore, it is recommended for more experienced fitness buffs with higher levels of overall strength and endurance. 

Due to its high intensity, it is not a good fit for patients with heart conditions or those who suffer from high blood pressure.

Shorter rest periods present a huge oxygen debt. Which makes it extremely challenging for individuals. Before starting any diet or workout routine, it is best to consult your doctor.

Beginners are advised to adopt lighter interval training to start, before slowly turning up the intensity.

How to implement Tabata

As mentioned earlier, the underlying Tabata training protocol calls for working out with maximum intensity for 20 seconds, resting for 10 seconds. And then repeating it for a total of 8 sets. Before the workout, do not forget to warm up for at least 10 minutes.

Tabata is pretty versatile, and there is a great variety of exercises that can be done when adopting this training method.

This includes a host of compound weight lifting exercises like deadlifts or a bench press. And other cardio workouts such as push-ups, burpees, mountain climbers, squat variations, high knee jog, different types of lunges, sprints, kettlebell swings, and many more.

Top benefits of Tabata

Tabata training is a huge fat buster. As your body is put under a tremendous amount of stress when you perform the exercises on your list, your Basal Metabolic Rate also increases.

This translates to higher energy usage for your body, even while at rest, to keep your vital functions in peak condition.

This means that your body will be able to burn more fat even after the workout. At an average of about 15 calories per minute.

As shown in the Japanese study where Tabata was discovered, it increases your aerobic and anaerobic capacity. Increased aerobic capacity means your body consumes more oxygen during workouts. While increased anaerobic capacity means that your body produces more carb-burning energy. 

Perhaps one of Tabata’s most attractive and visible benefits is that you can complete workouts in less time with maximized efficiency by using intense exercise routines.

There are no more excuses not to exercise, and you can maintain motivation when training at home because all you need are four minutes, plus proper workout attire. 

Also, Tabata can jumpstart your journey into committing to lengthier, more advanced workouts in the future.

Things to remember when doing Tabata

The Tabata method is meant to be short, intense, and infrequent. Adding it to your regular workouts will help you burn more calories and maximize your training.

However, it is not advisable to do Tabata daily as recovery days are essential to avoid overtraining and making sure that you have the energy needed to implement the training method effectively.

Monitor your intensity closely to ensure that you are doing the exercises with the correct form to avoid severe injuries. Tabata is intense, so make sure you do not overdo it to reap its full benefits.

About the Author

Max Wilson

Max is a certified trainer and fitness writer for Indoor Sport blog. He’s been in the fitness industry for almost 10 years now and he literally eats, sleeps and breathes fitness. When he’s not breaking a sweat, you can find him traveling, listening to music, and walking his Jack Russell Terrier.


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Daniel Messer, RNutr, CPT

We eat clean, are always motivated and helpout beginners in need. We sell guides on Cutting, Bulking and Muscle Building. Checkout our website!

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