What Is Tabata Training?

When searching for the perfect high-intensity training method to tone your body for the summer or to transform your curves, you’ve probably stumbled upon Tabata. And here are all the answers you may need about this highly popular fitness direction.

Tabata is a type of high-intensity interval training routine (HIIT) with a strict regime of eight sets of intense exercises. Each one is carried for 20 seconds followed by 10-second rest intervals. The overall training takes only 4 minutes but provides all the benefits of an hour-long workout. 

Tabata is one of the newest types of fitness, a kind of HIIT training that we’ve covered before. It was distinguished as a separate formed schedule back in the 1990s. However, the mainstream popularity is a fresh development. 

If you are interested in the basics of Tabata and whether it’ll be a suitable training form for you specifically, continue with our guide. 

What is Tabata Workout Routine?

tabata exercise

Tabata workout is a high-intensity training distinguished by Dr. Izumi Tabata in the 1990s. At that time, the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Japan sponsored doctor’s research. The study was meant to test whether short, high-intensity training intervals followed by even short rest periods would be more effective than moderate-intensity longer training sessions. As it turns out, yes! Tabata targets both the aerobic (cardiovascular) and anaerobic (muscle strength) systems, while moderate-intensity training mostly improves only one – aerobic. 

The initial Tabata workout routine used for the research was the following: 8 exercises for 20 seconds with a 10-second rest period. Comes up to 4 minutes. The training was conducted four days a week, six weeks in total. 

The modern Tabata routine offered by many fitness trainers is aimed at a 20-minute workout overall but for only a couple of days a week. Note that this prolonged kind of training is more advanced and better practiced by experienced gym-goers. For the beginners, the initial 4-minute plan would be more suitable. 

The 20/10 second rule is applicable to all Tabata workout regimes, no matter what exercises you do or how many rounds. 

What Are 10 Examples of Exercises to Use for Tabata?

Considering that you need only eight exercises for a classic 4-minute Tabata protocol, you can mix and match all kinds of exercises to target a specific body part (or upper/lower body split) or choose a full-body workout. Here is a list of 10 effective Tabata exercises you can use for your first training. 

Curtsy Lunges 

tabata exercise

Curtsy lunges are great hip stabilizers and work marvels for your butt. 

Start with your feet on shoulder width. Place your right foot on the toes diagonally behind your left foot. Lunge down, so your knee hovers a few inches above the ground. Rise and return to the initial position. Repeat the same sequence for the other leg. Alternate legs for 20 seconds. 

Jump Squats

tabata workout

The added jump boosts the effectiveness of the regular squat and makes the exercise explosive. It works perfectly for high-intensity Tabata as you push yourself to the max. 

Start with feet shoulder-width apart. Engage core and glutes, a lower into a regular squat. From this position, jump up explosively so that your legs are off the floor. Immediately squat down in a controlled motion. 

High Knees 

tabata workut

A bit of high-intensity cardio with high knees! The starting position is free hip-width apart. Lift your leg knees as high and close to the chest as you can. Alternate legs in a kind of a jump. Keep alternating them and “running” in this way. 

Burpees

hiit workout

Burpees, the bane of all HIIT workouts. Statistically, this is one of the least beloved exercises even for regular gym-goers. But burpees are essential for Tabata. 

Start with your feet shoulder-width apart and do a regular squat. Place your hands on the ground in front of your feet. Gently jump your legs back and straighten them. FIx in a plank position. (Optionally – do a push-up). Jump your feet towards your hands and explosively jump up with your feet off the ground. 

Russian Twist  

tabata training

Tabata is not only about cardio; muscle strength is building as well. And here comes the Russian twist that will give you a strong core and steel abs. 

Start in a sitting position. Bend your knees and lift the feet several inches off the floor. Keep your spine straight as you decline to a 45-degree angle. Clasp your hands together in front of you. Core engaged, use your abdominals to twist your torso to the right and, then, to the left. 

As a more advanced option, take a dumbbell and twist it to the sides (almost lowering to the floor) as well. 

Plank Hip Dips

tabata

What can be more universal than a plank? For Tabata training, choose a more dynamic exercise – hip dips. 

Start in the standard low plank position (on the elbows). Keep the core engaged and your back straight. Twist your hips to one side and down, back to straight plank, and to the other side. 

Side Plank 

tabata training

Another plan variation suitable for Tabata. This is a side plank but with a twist!

Position into a side plan – on your right elbow, left leg on top of the right, heels pressing down, hips up to form a straight line from shoulders to feet. Place your left arm behind the head, rotate the ribcage a bit forward and down, and your left elbow pushes to the ground as well. Twist back to the straight side plank. Repeat for 20 seconds. 

Mountain Climbers 

tabata workout

There is no need to take all these three core-focused exercises to one Tabata training; you can choose two among them. Mountain climber is a great dynamic high-intensity exercise. 

Start in a high plank position (on your hands). Core engaged, back straight. Bend your right knee and tuck it to the chest. Straighten it back, lower the leg to the floor, and repeat for the left leg. Switch legs as fast as you can while maintaining the proper plank position. 

Skaters

tabata fitness

Skaters is another jumping cardio exercise to balance the strenuous core planks. 

Start with your legs a bit wider than shoulder-width apart. Jum the right leg to the side and lift your leg left slightly bent behind you. Push your torso a bit forward and your left arm to the right in front of you. Jump to the other side by switching legs. Don’t forget to change arms as well. Jump from side to side for 20 seconds. 

Jump Rope 

what is tabata

This piece of equipment can become the perfect conclusion to the Tabata workout. For the last 20 seconds of training, just do your favorite jump rope exercise. Don’t slack at the end – push yourself even harder.

Is Tabata Workout Good for Weight Loss?

Tabata is the perfect kind of workout for weight loss

Its high intensity burns calories like no other fitness type. Tabata targets both aerobic and anaerobic systems (responsible for endurance and short high-intensity fitness goals, respectively). It comes with a complex approach to combining cardio and resistance training. Provided that you keep to the calorie deficit approach, you’ll see a decrease in your body fat percentage. 

Note that, at periods, your weight may stay the same as you gain muscle and lose body fat. That is how body recomposition works.  But you’ll always notice “visual weight loss” changes. 

In addition, high-intensity Tabata also affects your overall basal metabolic rate (MBR). It means that even outside of your workout days, you’ll be burning more energy and calories while doing everyday stuff. 

According to research, the following 30 minutes after a Tabata workout, a person’s metabolic rate is doubled. On average, such a workout session burns 13,5 – 15 calories a minute!

Is 20 Minutes of Tabata Enough?

As I’ve mentioned, one minute of Tabata training burns up to 15 calories. With that in mind, a 20-minute session has the potential to burn 300 calories. It may seem a relatively small number, but consider the calorie expenditure of other fitness activities. Cycling – 134, jump rope – 300-35, CrossFit – 300, swimming – 150, running – 230. Thus, Tabata is on par with the most strenuous types of exercising. Such results in 20 minutes are impressive. 

Remember that you ought to push yourself as hard as you can during every 20 seconds of exercising. Believe me, it will be the hardest (physically) 20 minutes of your life! 

Is Tabata Better Than HIIT?

Tabata is actually a HIIT workout. Thus, we cannot say that one of them is better because they are one. Tabata is simply one of many kinds of high-intensity interval training. 

As for the effectiveness, all kinds of HIIT workouts are highly productive and target a variety of health issues like cardiovascular improvement, weight management, strength building, coordination, mobility, and so on.  

Is It OK to Do Tabata Everyday?

tabata regime

Tabata is not the kind of training that can be done every day. Overall, high-intensity workouts are recommended to alternate with rest days. Thus, you give your body enough time to recuperate. 

Overall, beginners are recommended to start with two workouts a week with at least 24 hours of rest between sessions. 48 hours would be perfect initially. Tabata should be added to your basic workout routine and replace some cardio days. On the days of this HIIT training, you can also indulge in relaxing yoga sequences. 

As you gain strength and stamina, you can start increasing the number of training days up to 3 a week. Even for experienced fitness influencers, three days a week of Tabata is more than enough. 

Tabata is a strenuous type of training that pushes you to your limits. Such stress will only bring negative results if done every day. 

Conclusion 

Tabata is a strenuous form of HIIT training that offers the best possible workout in a short period of time. Whether you stick to the standard 4-minute training plan or choose an advanced 20-minute workout, you get the best possible deal by combining cardio and resistance training.