The Tabata Workout: For Increased Cardiovascular Fitness

Tabata Workout

In a study conducted by Dr. Izumi Tabata (and others), four minutes of intense interval training per week for 6 weeks led to improvements in anaerobic capacity comparable to that of a standard hour of endurance training. In this article we will discuss the benefits of the Tabata workout, the history of tabata training, and how to perform a tabata workout.

What is Tabata Workout

The Tabata Workout is a short, but intense workout routine. The routine consists of 8 sets with 20 seconds on and 10 seconds off for each set, making it 4 minutes per set.

Tabata Workouts are great for people who want to lose weight and build muscle. They are also good for people who don't have much time to exercise because they only take 4 minutes per day!

How does Tabata Workout work inside the body?

The 4 minute workout consists of 8 sets. Each set is 20 seconds on and 10 seconds off, with a total of four minutes for each set.

The time under tension (20 seconds on and 10 seconds off) causes your body to overcompensate by generating more adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the energy currency that is used by your body for energy. This means more mitochondria are created in the affected muscle groups, increasing metabolism and burning fat after each workout.

The Tabata workout has also been shown to significantly improve aerobic capacity, which translates to better performance at submaximal levels of exercise (i.e.: running a 5k).

The Tabata workout is a short and high-intensity routine, but it's great for weight loss, toning, and building muscles.

History of Tabata Workout

Dr. Izumi Tabata developed the training protocol as a means to improve anaerobic capacity. In 1996 he conducted a study on two groups of athletes. One group performed moderate intensity cardio training for an hour, five days a week. The other performed high-intensity interval training for only 4 minutes, four times a week.

The athletes in the high-intensity group showed similar gains in aerobic capacity as the long-duration group, but without any of the muscle loss that would have occurred when doing the same exercise for a long duration (such as running).

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How to do Tabata Workout

How to do Tabata

The tabata workout consists of 8 sets, each set consisting of 20 seconds on and 10 seconds rest. Each 4 minute round is followed by 1-minute rest to give the body time to recover. During this time it's recommended to do light cardio, such as jumping jacks or jumping rope.

The first round of the Tabata workout is pretty difficult - it should be attempted only by advanced athletes who are in good shape. For the other rounds, you'll want to challenge yourself but not put your body at risk for injury. You can scale back some exercises or perform rest-pauses (20 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeated for each set) to make the workout easier.

What muscles does tabata workout target?

The Tabata workout focuses on cardiovascular training which is divided into two categories: aerobic and anaerobic. Aerobic training targets slow twitch muscles that use oxygen to generate energy. Anaerobic training targets fast twitch and super-fast twitch muscles, which don't require oxygen and can create energy faster than the body can deliver it. These muscles are responsible for generating explosive power, such as sprinting or jumping.

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The Tabata workout uses high intensity interval training, which is a form of anaerobic training. This means the Tabata workout primarily targets fast twitch muscles, but it also uses aerobic training to reduce fatigue and increase energy.

The high intensity intervals use short bursts of effort followed by longer rests, forcing your body to work harder than it could otherwise handle.

The 8 sets are each done in only 4 minutes, which is an interval-training concept that helps to maximize benefits and burn more fat and calories than traditional exercises.

The Tabata workout works all muscles of the body, depending on the exercise chosen. However, there are specific moves and muscle groups that receive more focus.

The core muscles, upper body and abs are targeted with jumping jacks, mountain climbers, push-up planks, medicine ball slams, medicine ball twists.

Legs are targeted with high knees, running in place - even the calf muscles are engaged with one-legged kickbacks.

If you want to get leaner or lose weight, the Tabata workout is perfect. This short yet high-intensity routine will burn calories and build muscle all while toning your muscles. The decrease in rest periods forces you to use more energy each consecutive round, meaning that your body will continue burning fat even after the workout is over (hence why it's called cardio).

Workout at your own pace and choose moves that you feel comfortable with. The more effort, the better the results!

The Tabata Workout Program

The Tabata program is as follows:

  • Work out hard for 20 seconds
  • Rest for 10 seconds
  • Complete 8 rounds

The plan is to complete 8 sets, so you'll need to do this set of exercises twice. For the first set, aim for as many reps as possible and try your hardest. Rest for 10 seconds and take a second to stretch before starting the next set.

You can choose any exercise you wish. You can do squats, push-ups, burpees or any other exercise that requires moving your large muscle groups. Kettlebell exercises are great too

An example of a Tabata workout looks like this:

  1. Push-ups (4 minutes) 
  2. Bodyweight Squats (4 minutes)
  3. Burpees (4 minutes)
  4. Mountain Climbers (4 minutes)

For the complete workout, begin with push-ups. Perform them for 2 sets lasting 20 seconds at a high intensity & 10 seconds break in between each set. Follow up with 15 sets of lunges on the left leg after every other set of push-ups. Repeat this cycle 8 times each side to complete one round ​(4 total rounds). Once you have completed it.

Next, do 20 second sets of squats, with 10 second intervals. Repeat 8 sets of squats. Rest for 1 minute, then do burpees. Finishing up with mountain climbers is a great way to end the workout

Tabata is a quick and intense workout regimen, great if you need to shake up your routine or stay in shape. Do one to four rounds of 20 seconds of max effort followed by 10 seconds rest and aim to reach at least 150 pushups, 300 squats, and 150 calf raises during the course of this routine.

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What's the difference between Tabata Workout and HIIT?

Tabata Vs. HIIT

The main difference between the Tabata workout and HIIT is that HIIT includes long intervals of low intensity work, whereas Tabata consists of all-out efforts.

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HIIT workouts are often longer because you have to build up to a high intensity. In contrast, Tabatas follow a strict format: 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off with very little rest.

Tabatas are very high intensity and can be performed for shorter periods of time.

There is no broad consensus on the best approach to Tabata training, as it is a relatively new concept. Some people even believe that there's no point in doing the exact same thing over and over again, so they're constantly mixing up their routine.

There's currently no research to suggest that one approach is better than the other. Most fitness experts will tell you to follow whatever approach works best for you, and what you enjoy most.

So how did this workout get its name? There are two people involved in the creation of this training program: Izumi Tabata and his coach, Irisawa Koichi.

Tabata was a researcher in Japan who studied the benefits of high intensity training on Olympic speed skaters. He began work on HIIT in the 1990s and found that 4 minute intervals consisting of 20 seconds all-out effort & 10 seconds rest provided for maximum aerobic benefit after just a few weeks.

The coach, Irisawa Koichi, put a twist on the program by adding 4 minutes of steady state work followed by 20 seconds all-out effort & 10 seconds rest, which further enhanced athletic performance and endurance.

Benefits of doing Tabata Workout

Tabata workout offers many benefits. It:

  • boosts metabolism
  • is time-efficient
  • boosts aerobic and anaerobic fitness levels
  • increases lean muscle mass
  • raises heart rate

A 2013 study has shown that 4-minute Tabata workouts consisting of bodyweight and plyometric exercises increased participants' cardiorespiratory endurance. This resulted in their bodies burning more calories during their workouts than usual.

Tabata brings many advantages, but some people just don’t like it. A 2015 study found that Tabata training was less enjoyable than other types of exercise over the 8 weeks of the study.

While some people may enjoy high intensity workouts more than others, you may want to find an exercise that's more enjoyable.

Safety Precautions for Tabata Workout

Tabata workout safety precautions


To start exercising, warming up is the first step. Warm-ups are important in order to prepare the body for the challenging workout ahead. They not only boost performance but also reduce injury risk. HIIT workouts naturally put your heart under stress. To avoid any risks, you need to take an extensive warm-up beforehand or abstain from taking part in this kind of exercise if you have a history of cardiovascular problems.

You should take an appropriate warm-up or stretching routine first to avoid injuries and overstraining your body. High-intensity interval training workouts make use of 'chair postures,' which means they activate multiple muscle groups at the same time. Avoid jumping into such exercises right away as this may be dangerous to you.

Emphasize on Form and Postures

To get the most out of Tabata without injuring yourself, it's important to keep your form and posture correct. Beginners tend to make mistakes when they try Exercise (E.M.O.), such as missing out on proper form and technique. This means that there's a high risk of injury when performing Tabata.

Tabata workouts require high intensity exercises in a short time span. This can lead to a failure to maintain optimal form and prolonging exercises. You may find yourself tempted to squeeze in extra reps, but this typically makes for a bad workout and can easily lead to an injury.

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If you don't change the exercise or load, your body will become fatigued. This can result in injuries which is why it's important to change up the type of exercises you do and keep a proper posture.

Take Enough Rest

Rest and recovery are just as important when you're doing Tabata training. Experts recommend that you train every second to third day, with at least two days of rest between sessions. This will ensure that your muscles have enough time to rest before the next session.

The highlight of Tabata is the speed at which your body is primed for a higher fitness level. For instance, if you start with squats you can soon find yourself practicing jumps or burpees.

However, the risk of overtraining in Tabata is huge. To get the benefits out of these sessions, indulge in activities that assist muscle recovery. Practicing yoga and foam rolling along with improving your nutrition and sleep can help with post-workout recovery.

Tabata workouts are challenging and it's important to keep your body in mind when doing them. Heavy exertion can lead to exhaustion, so be careful if conditions are too extreme. In such a situation, take a longer break between reps. This will help regain stamina and boost endurance to complete your reps without compromising on postures and intensity.

Frequently Asked Questions about Tabata Workout

What Are Tabata Workouts?

Tabata workouts are a type of High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workout which is simple to learn. They consist of :

  • 20 seconds of maximum intensity exercise followed by a 10 seconds rest period, repeated 8 times.

How Many Calories Does Tabata Burn?

High-intensity exercises like Tabata boost your metabolism and help you burn more calories in less time. However, the actual calories burned while performing these workouts may vary depending on factors like age, weight, muscle mass etc.

How Long Does A Tabata Workout Last?

Tabata workouts typically last for 4 minutes with a rest of one minute in between rounds. You can do as many rounds as you want, provided that you take a minute of rest after every round.

How Often Should One Do Tabata Workouts?

Because these workouts are high in intensity, it's recommended to practice them at least three times per week or on alternate days, with a day or two of complete rest in between.

Is Tabata Only For Cardio?

Tabata workouts don't only focus on cardio exercises, they may also include strength training and plyometrics. They help to increase your speed and power when combined with weight-training exercises like squats and pushups.

Summary and Conclusion

Tabata workouts are short and extremely beneficial. They help to improve your endurance, burn more calories in less time, and get you fitter rapidly. To use this workout to its full potential, it's important that you learn the proper technique and take enough rest between sessions. If you're a beginner or a seasoned gym-goer, try incorporating these workouts into your routine for better results.

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