There are currently no items in your basket.


What Is Tabata Interval Training? | Exercises & Workouts

US Myprotein Writer

Katie McLean


Tabata interval training is a high intensity workout that has both overall fitness and weight loss benefits. It is also a very short workout, which is great for those who are generally busy people. Tabata interval training can offer maximum benefits in the shortest amount of time, when performed correctly of course.

A complete tabata workout is only a total of four minutes, with 8 rounds of 20 seconds of an exercise that is performed at full force and power, followed by 10 seconds of rest; equaling 4 minutes. This burst of intensity improves cardiovascular fitness and muscular endurance. It can also be used for weight training and core strength as well.

Origins of Tabata Training

tabata intervals exercises 1

You’ve heard all about the higher intensity hype, but where did this specific style of training come from?

Tabata interval training was originally founded by Izumi Tabata, a Japanese scientist, and a few of his colleagues from the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo, Japan. They decided to take part in a study that compared moderate intensity to high intensity training. The study was tested on two groups of athletes.

Group 1 performed one hour of exercise at a moderate intensity for 5 days per week, for a total of six weeks. Whereas Group 2 performed exercise using high intensity interval training for 4 days per week, for the same total of six weeks.  Group 2’s sessions lasted for only 4 minutes; 20 seconds of 170% intensity with 10 seconds rest.

The results in Group 1 increased their cardiovascular (aerobic) system, but showed little to none results in their muscular (anaerobic) system. Group 2, on the other hand, showed more increase in their cardiovascular system than Group 1, and also increased their muscular system by 28%.

Tabata training raises your metabolism and heart rate instantly due to such extreme intensity that each exercise is performed at. Not only does your heart rate increase during exercise, but it stays elevated after exercise as well. This means that your body will continue burning fat up to hours afterwards.  One complete 4 minute tabata workout can burn up to the same amount of calories as a 60-minute jog. If you are not absolutely exhausted and out of breath towards the end of this workout, you did not reach full intensity potential.

tabata intervals exercises 3

Tabata Intervals – How Do I Start?

If you’re just beginning to try out this style of training, it is recommended that you choose one exercise that you’re generally comfortable with doing (example: sprinting on a treadmill). Select a timer, or interval timing app, that can properly track your exercise and rest time accordingly. No matter how well you think you are at counting in your head, it can become quite challenging to determine how long 20 and 10 seconds are during such intensity.


4 Tabata Exercises To Try


  • Bicycle Sprints

Spin bikes are excellent for engaging the whole lower body while quickly elevating your heart rate during those 20 second intervals. You can, however, take this protocol to the road on a generic bicycle.  Although, it is easier to control the stopping and going on a bike that is more stationary.

  • Swimming

Swimming offers cardio benefits with added resistance from the constant pushing and pulling movements through the water. It also cross trains your upper body. Pick whichever stroke that best suits you, and swim full force!

  • Box Jumps

Look for a plyometric box that is level with your shins and knees. Start off by standing in front of the box with both feet together. Using both feet in this position, jump up to the top of the box. Finish this repetition by jumping back to the floor, again with feet staying together. Each jump should that is preformed should be as explosive and forceful as you could possibly handle.

If this exercise is too difficult to start off with, you can regress to step ups. You could also use a weight bench is a plyometric box is unavailable.

  • Mountain Climbers

This is a full body exercise, specifically engaging the core and shoulders. Start off in a plank position with hands and feet on the floor. Keep your core engaged in order to make sure that your hips level.

Bring one of your legs up to your chest (think of a sprinter’s lunge). While keeping your hands on the ground, switch your legs in a jumping motion. Gently tap your toe(s) down in front of you, so that you’re not too tempted to rest longer by putting your foot down on the ground.

tabata intervals exercises 2

Message To Remember

Some of us live busy lives, or usually on the go.  The good news is that you don’t need to spend hours on the treadmill or spin bike in order to burn a significant amount of fat.  All you really need is 4 minutes.  High intensity interval training has more impact on both the aerobic and anaerobic systems.  Take note of the intensity of this workout.  Please consult your physician prior to attempting this style of training if you have any medical issues.

No Post Tags

Katie Mclean

Katie Mclean

Writer and expert

Check out our Best Sellers for the latest deals Be quick, shop now!