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What Is Tabata Training?

What Is Tabata Training?
What Is Tabata?

There are so many different styles of fitness training out there that it can be easy to be confused by what each style involves.  

Nowadays, there is so much more choice than doing either cardio or weight training. There are many different styles of training that you can do! 

Today I’m going to focus on explaining one type of cardio training you might have heard of, called Tabata, which is a really popular type of interval workout.

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What is Tabata?

Tabata is a popular form of HIIT training (high-intensity interval training).

Interval training

Interval training is when you alternate between either low or high-intensity exercise ‘working’ periods, broken up with low-intensity rest periods. 

HIIT training

HIIT stands for high-intensity interval training. While it uses a similar style of short bursts of high-intensity exercise, broken up by low-intensity exercises or recovery periods, it is a much higher intensity style of cardio. 

What is the difference between interval training and HIIT?

HIIT is a type of interval training. It follows the same work-rest formula but in the ‘working’ periods, you are pushing yourself as hard as you can for that short period of time, at a very intense pace. This doesn’t need to be the case for general interval training, which may involve less-intense ‘working’ periods.

Tabata structure

Tabata training is a timed style of HIIT training that lasts for a total of four minutes. 
It is structured like this:

    1.    Perform 20 seconds of high-intensity exercise, as hard as you can, for the entire 20 seconds. 

    2.    Rest for 10 seconds.

    3.    Repeat this for a total of 8 rounds (this equals 4 minutes).

Tabata workout

One of the great things about Tabata training is that you can do any combination of exercises that you like during the 4-minute workout period.

For example, you could include some of the following exercises into a  4-minute Tabata workout:

  • Burpees
  • Skipping
  • Jump lunges
  • Mountain climbers
  • Push-ups
  • Sprints
  • High-Knee runs
  • Sumo squats
  • Planks.

If you wanted to do a full-body Tabata-style workout that goes for 32 minutes, then it could look something like this:

Mountain climbers 

Do 20 seconds of mountain climbers, then rest for 10 seconds. 

Repeat a total of 8 times (this equals 4 minutes).


Do 20 seconds of push-ups, then rest for 10 seconds. 

Repeat a total of 8 times (this equals 4 minutes).

Sumo squats

Do 20 seconds of sumo squats, then rest for 10 seconds. 

Repeat a total of 8 times (this equals 4 minutes).


Do 20 seconds of burpees, then rest for 10 seconds. 

Repeat a total of 8 times (this equals 4 minutes).

Repeat all of these rounds twice, for a total of 32 minutes! Just remember to give yourself a longer break period between each 4-minute round so that you have time to recover! Aim for around one minute.

Remember though, while you should aim to get through as many reps as possible, form is always the most important factor to keep in mind when performing the exercises.

This is especially important as you begin to fatigue during the workout.

It’s also really important to warm-up before your workout, as well as cool down afterwards.

What are the benefits of Tabata?

There are so many benefits of doing Tabata-style training. Here are just a few:

It doesn’t matter how fit you are

It’s great if you are first starting out because, even though you’re supposed to go as hard as you can during the high-intensity periods, it allows you to go at your own pace. Over time, the fitter you become, the more repetitions you may be able to fit into the timed period.

Tabata doesn’t require equipment

While you can use some equipment like a skipping rope or light weights to increase the intensity of your movements, you can also go equipment-free and rely on bodyweight exercises. It really comes down to your preferences. This makes it a really great workout to do when you’re on the go or short on time at home.

Tabata can involve cardio or resistance training

While we’ve focused on Tabata as a cardio training style in this blog, you can also incorporate resistance training into this structure to build muscle and reduce body fat at the same time. Simply add weight-based exercises into the 4-minute time periods.

Tabata is more efficient than traditional cardio

Tabata originated in Japan and is named after scientist Dr. Izumi Tabata. He found that high-intensity interval training has a more significant impact on your aerobic and anaerobic endurance than traditional, longer forms of less-intense cardio. So overall it’s seen as a more efficient way of working out, which is a big win!

Tabata is quick

Tabata training involves short bursts of exercise so even if you are short on time, you can still squeeze in a workout and feel results!

Try out your own Tabata training now

Tabata training is so easy to do, no matter where you are! Give the above workout a try at home and see how you go. You can also check out my Tabata leg workout and give it a try. 

If you enjoy this style of training, my BBG program is a high-intensity resistance workout program that offers similar benefits to Tabata — download the SWEAT app and give it a try!

* Results may vary. Strict adherence to the nutrition and exercise guide are required for best results.

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