Tabata Training: Why YOU should be doing it!

Guest Post by Tamara via Fit Knit Chick

A whole lotta Tabata…sounds fun, right?

Tabata interval training (or the Tabata method, as it is sometimes referred to) is a form of high intensity interval training (HIIT), with a unique work to rest interval. 

Twenty second periods of near maximal effort are alternated with ten second periods of rest for a total of eight cycles (or four minutes) per exercise.

The Tabata method was developed in the mid-1990’s by Dr. Izumi Tabata at the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo, Japan while studying the effects of various exercise protocols on energy production systems.When compared with moderate intensity endurance activities, Tabata intervals resulted in noticeable improvements in athletic performance, including:

  • increased VO2Max (the rate at which your body can take in oxygen)
  • higher anaerobic thresholds (the level of effort at which lactic acid production kicks in)
  • better aerobic conditioning (the efficiency with which your heart and lungs can get oxygen to your muscles)
  • improved fat loss

Other reasons to add Tabata intervals to your training schedule?

  • They require less time than a traditional workout
  • Very little space or equipment is needed
  • Tabata principles can be applied to most types of exercise
  • They are infinitely variable

Some of my favorite exercises to give the Tabata treatment to are:

  • Dumbbell squat presses
  • Push-ups
  • Prisoner squat jumps
  • Plank rows
  • Split lunge jumps
  • Burpees
  • Treadmill and bike sprints

If you’re new to Tabata training, choose a single exercise and add it to the end of your regular workout. Make sure that you’re capable of performing the chosen exercise for 20 seconds without a rest (I learned the hard way that pull-ups aren’t a wise choice for my Tabata workouts!). Set your timer (I use my GymBoss) for 8 rounds of 20 second work followed by 10 seconds of rest. Ready, set, go!

More advanced exercisers may want to choose 3 or 4 exercises to base a full Tabata workout on, making sure that no single muscle group is over-represented in the workout. For example, a 4-exercise Tabata workout might consist of squat presses, push-ups, split lunge jumps and plank rows (with just a short rest interval between exercises). A whole body, high intensity strength and cardiovascular workout done in just sixteen minutes! Who says we don’t have time to workout?

Tabata: a great way to up the intensity and variety in your training. Give it a try!

Read more from FitKnitChick

Have you tried Tabata interval training? Do you have a 15 minute sweat blaster that you turn to? Tell us about it!

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Tabata training photo via  


  1. Tamara, thank you for the inspiration and the reminder that we can fit a work out into any busy day. I love a work out that fits my crazy schedule. A doctor friend of mine says even 10 minutes a day results in better cardiac function and a healthier stronger body. Don’t we all have 10 minutes a day? Actually, can’t we all fit in 30 minutes of exercise per day? Anyway, once you master 10 minutes you will want to do more because it is a great accomplishment!

  2. I totally agree Jana!
    Some days, it’s harder to find that 30 minutes, but if you make it a priority, most of the time you’ll get it done!

  3. Great idea Tamara! I have never done this type of workout before as a stand alone workout but incorporated similar intervals into workouts about 2 weeks prior to Nationals (swimming). But that was 25 years ago. I will add a similar interval session tomorrow morning into our workout.

  4. We do something similar on base for our cardio/strength sessions but not quite as structured — I always favor interval training of any sort so Tabata is totally up my alley! =) Side-note: I feel really silly for missing my interval class this morning now, but tonight I’ll make up for it with some zumba! Thanks for the motivation Talia and Tamara!

  5. Really great reminder that moving our bodies does’t have to be a 2 hour gym commitment! I have used something similar in my running called Peak 8 – not sure who originally developed it but learned about it from Dr. Mercola, and it looks to be based on a lot of the same theories (perhaps it’s the same thing under a different name?).

    I’ve also been switching up my yoga routine to a short but very focused practice on just a few asanas, as I couldn’t keep up with the faster pace while healing an injury. I’ve found that I could still work up a sweat by doing so, even after only 15 minutes! The body is a pretty amazing machine…

    • The ‘long workout’ mindset is a really tough one to shake. I have to constantly remind myself that I don’t need to carve 60-90 minutes out of my day to get fit and strong!
      Enjoy your Zumba class!


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