Tabata is a very intense form of HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workout. HIIT has become the darling of the fitness world over the past few years. Why? Well, put simply, HIIT allows you to get maximum fat burn in a very short period of time.
In fact, studies have shown that HIIT workouts are much more effective for fat burning, cardiovascular fitness and muscle development than standard workouts. And this is true even though HIIT workouts tend to be much shorter than comparable workouts that don’t use ups and downs of intensity.
Tabata workouts are an extreme form of HIIT characterized by very short workout periods. The average Tabata set is just four minutes long and consists of 20 seconds of high-intensity activity followed by 10 seconds of rest. This is repeated non-stop for four minutes (a total of eight cycles).
Tabata’s name comes from the Japanese scientist who first conducted a study on the effect of four-minute high-intensity workouts on speedskaters. The results of the study were nothing less of spectacular: after several weeks of training, the skaters using the Tabata training system had more gains in both aerobic and anaerobic capacity benefits than those following a standard training regime.
Going Back to Basics: The 4-Minute Workout
While Tabata has been called “brutal” and “muscle killing,” the good news is that the best Tabata exercises consist of workouts that are very short. Not all Tabata workouts are just four minutes long, but you can certainly start with one of that length if that’s all you can do.
The original four-minute Tabata workout can be done in either aerobic or resistance form. For the aerobic option, use a bike and pedal at a very high resistance/fast speed combination for 20 seconds, then slow down or rest for 10 seconds before you do it again. You can also try a treadmill. Set the speed at 10 or higher and run (add an incline if you can handle it) for 20 seconds, then jump off and rest for 10 before jumping back on to run for 20 seconds more. Keep repeating this until you complete your four-minute workout.
The Best Tabata Exercises to Do At Home
No access to a gym? You can do a four-minute Tabata set without any equipment. Start in a squat/crouching position, then place your hands on the floor right in front of you. Next, kick your feet back until you hit a plank position. Immediately jump back into the original position, get up and jump up with your arms extended over your head. Make the jump as high as possible, then go back down into the crouching position and repeat. Repeat for 20 seconds before stopping and resting for 10 (depending on your speed, you should be able to do several of this in a 20-second period).
This is a great option if you want to fit in some exercise into your day but don’t have time to make it to the gym. Just do a Tabata set in the morning or right after work and you’re set for that day.
You can also use free weights for a variation of the Tabata workout. Simply pick one activity (for example, lifting dumbbells over your head) and choose the heaviest dumbbells you can handle. Do repetitions for 20 seconds non-stop, rest for 10 and repeat.
Something to Keep in Mind
Don’t let the four-minute part of the workout fool you: Tabata is incredibly intense and you could get injured if you use the wrong form or you push yourself too hard. If you have a medical condition, talk to your health care professional before attending Tabata, or work with a trainer to let proper form so you can make the most o