Tabata Training

Tabata training

If you have been doing a bit of reading lately you will find that HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) constantly keeps popping up. The reason for this is that both scientists and pro athletes alike have come to embrace this method of training. If there is a silver bullet for training HIIT and, as I’m going to explain to you, Tabata training is it.

What is Tabata training

Back in 1996, Dr. Izumi Tabata was hired by the Japanese speed skating team to analyze the efficiency of the training the athletes were undertaking. One control group worked out with moderate intensity for one hour five days a week. The other control group worked out with high intensity four days a week for six weeks.

After six weeks had passed the results were in. The first group showed improvement in their aerobic system (cardiovascular), but almost no improvements in their anaerobic system (muscular). The high intensity group showed much more improvement in their aerobic system but also showed a 28% increase in their anaerobic system!

So to put it shortly, the high intensity group showed better results in both the aerobic and anaerobic system, while training fewer days and less time each workout. This sounds almost too good to be true, right?

The Tabata training program

One “tabata” takes four minutes to complete. It may sound like a walk in the park but believe me, this will most likely be the hardest four minutes you have ever experienced. What you do is that you choose an exercise then you perform it as fast as you can for 20 seconds and then rest for 10 seconds. Repeat this 8 times and you have completed one “tabata”.

Why is it working?

When you give it all out during the 20 seconds of high intensity the body goes into an oxygen shortage. This causes the body to ask for more oxygen during the time it recovers. This is commonly known as the “afterburn effect” or Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) if you want to get more scientific about it. This boost in your metabolic rate can last up to 48 hours after you completed your training, so you will be burning fat even after you leave the gym.

Tabata training examples

Choose four exercises that you are going to do, then complete them one by one as mentioned above until you have done all exercises. You could go for pure cardio exercises or incorporate some more muscle building exercises like dumbbell snatches or similar.

Tabata training example #1

  1. Sprint in place
  2. Mountain climbers
  3. Jumping jacks
  4. Burpees

When you have completed one “tabata” rest for one minute and then continue to the next exercise. With this setup, the entire workout will only take 19 minutes!

Tabata training example #2

  1. Suicide drills
  2. Air squats
  3. Push-ups
  4. Frog jumps

If you want to, you can add a dumbbell or kettlebell to your tabata training as well.

Tabata training example #3

  1. Dumbbell renegade rows
  2. Goblet squats
  3. Burpees
  4. Split jumps

Tabata training example #4

  1. Kettlebell swings
  2. Kettlebell overhead swings
  3. Side lunges
  4. Kettlebell snatch


Try to incorporate 2-3 tabata training workouts per week and you will start to see results in a short period of time. As always keep eating healthy foods, you can have a look at these recipes as inspiration. And at last, one tip is to get a good timer, I use an app on my phone. As good as you think you are at counting, you will most likely loose track when the fatigue sets it.

Good luck and stay healthy!


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