Tabata is a style of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) which is much different than your typical gym workout which involves conventional weight training and cardio.
It’s super intense but if you want to significantly improve your aerobic and anaerobic capacity while building muscle and burning fat; then look no further.
What Is Tabata?
Tabata is a form of high-intensity interval training made popular by Izumi Tabata, Ph.D., at the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo; although, he didn’t actually create this program. Irisawa Koichi, who was the head coach of Japanese Olympic Skating, developed the training protocol.
Read also Full Body HIIT Workout!
He wanted to test the training protocol on some athletes and enlisted Tabata to determine whether or not it was effective.
It’s a fast-paced form of training which essentially offers all the benefits of fitness but each session is performed in a timed format.
Each workout is four minutes in total but you’ll do eight 20-second intervals of hardcore training with 10 seconds of rest in between each interval.
So, it’s pretty much a full-body workout performed in four minutes…
“Originally I thought this type of training was just for speed skaters or other highly motivated athletes because it is very painful and tiring,” said Izumi Tabata.
“However, I found that there were groups of people interested in building muscle and therefore doing short high-intensity exercises that trained their muscle, but not those exercises that improved their aerobic training.
When this regimen came along, they began to realize they could train both at the same time.”
There are many options with Tabata and we’ll explain them below…
Benefits of Tabata Exercises
Combining effective movements with intensity and short rest periods will result in gains! And that’s what Tabata is. It can also save you time and allow you to get a great workout in a very short period of time.
Benefits you can expect include…
Hypertrophy (muscle growth) is one side effect of Tabata training. You’ll either do bodyweight training/plyometrics or weight training for each four-minute session. And resistance training is obviously conducive to gains in muscle.
As you progress you can increase the amount of weight used or you can turn up the intensity a bit more.
Research shows Tabata style training (HIIT) to increase aerobic capacity similar to moderate-intensity continuous training, but HIIT also increases anaerobic capacity by about 28%. (1)
High-intensity training is a popular method in general because it really does burn a lot of calories while offering the benefit of stimulating the muscle in a very short period of time.
The more calories you can burn, the more you’ll be likely to lose weight and/or burn fat. It takes approximately 3,500 calories burned to lose one pound and you’ll have to track your calories to ensure you’re meeting your requirements. (2)
Use our calorie calculator to determine your recommended daily caloric intake.
According to a study, 4 minutes of HIIT burns approximately 54kcals. But honestly, the amount you burn depends on your body weight and intensity during exercise. (3)
Only individuals who are healthy should do Tabata training. Very high-intensity workouts can have a negative effect on people who have heart issues and even those not used to such hardcore exercise.
If you’re healthy, just make sure to start slow until you’re training at full intensity.
Constructing a Tabata Workout
So to devise an effective workout for four minutes, you’ll have to choose a few exercises which are most convenient and which you can perform completely for the duration of the session.
You can choose to do weighted exercises or bodyweight movements and the number of exercises you choose to complete are completely up to you.
So, you can choose one exercise or many and the latter is preferred to train several muscle groups in a single workout. So, for instance, you can do push-ups, pull-ups, and leg lifts all in one four-minute workout.
But you can use as many exercises as you please in any style during the eight rounds.
Tabata example workout…
Each round will equal one minute. You’ll perform four rounds to equal four minutes in total.
Do push-ups for 20 seconds then rest 10 seconds. Then do pull-ups for 20 seconds and rest 10 seconds. Alternate these two exercises until you’ve gone for four rounds. This will equal one minute.
- Bodyweight squats
- Bodyweight Lunges
Do squats for 20 seconds then rest 10 seconds. Then do lunges for 20 seconds and rest 10 seconds. Alternate these two exercises until you’ve done all four rounds.
Repeat rounds 1 and 2 to complete the four-minute routine.
What About Training Frequency and Recovery?
Treat Tabata training like you would any other routine. Do a workout two-three times per week and then rest 48-72 hours in between your sessions.
Seeing as to how intense Tabata-style training is, you want to make sure you’re not overdoing it by training too frequently. Proper like a high carb meal before a workout is a good idea as well to ensure you have plenty of glycogen stores to fuel your intense sessions. (4)
Staying sufficiently hydrated is also essential for health and strength as just a few percent loss in body mass can decrease strength by 2%. (5)
Tabata is extremely effective when performed as it’s intended to be.
“People need to realize that to get into shape, to really reap the benefits of Tabata training, it’s the intensity part that gets you into shape, not the four minutes,” explained John Porcari, Ph.D., head of the Clinical Exercise Physiology Program at the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse.
So, if you follow a training protocol similar to the one laid out above, you no doubt see great results. Or, you could adjust the routine to your preference.
Just make sure you’re in good health before attempting any intense training program, and always build up the intensity as opposed to jumping straight in.
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