What is Tabata Workout? And How to Train in it?

Tabata workout is a type of High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) method conceived by Izumi Tabata, a Japanese scientist, in 1996. The workout involves strenuous and heavy effort exercises followed by a brief period of complete rest or low-intensity exercise for recovery.

It follows a 2:1 ratio rule where 20 seconds of workout is followed by a 10-second break. This interval needs to be followed for a non-stop 4 minutes. As this requires a lot of energy and increased oxygen demand, a beginner to this method should start with a low-intensity workout.

Various research studies have concluded that Tabata workout has several health benefits. Apart from improving cardio endurance, it can also improve muscle strength and body metabolism, which will increase the rate of calorie burning and aid in weight loss. One study shows that a 20-minute Tabata workout, using multiple rounds of plyometric and body-weight exercises, complies with the ACSM guidelines for improving cardiorespiratory endurance.

How to train in Tabata?

The Tabata training follows a 2:1 ratio rule where 20 seconds of extensive exercise is followed by a 10-second rest or recovery. This interval needs to be followed for a non-stop 4 minutes, which makes up one round. You can do 4 rounds with a 1-minute break in between each round to complete a total of 20 minutes of workout.

You should always start with a low level of intensity and upgrade the difficulty level as your body becomes used to it. Some tips related to Tabata training are:

  • Always perform warm-up exercises before Tabata training
  • Begin with low-intensity exercise with intermittent rest of 20-30 seconds
  • Monitor your intensity accumulation. You may sometimes reach a maximum intensity that may cause injury due to sloppiness in muscles
  • Perform Tabata training max 3 -4 times a week. Otherwise, it may lead to overtraining and injury

10 Tabata exercises you should try!

#1 Burpee

It is one of the toughest yet powerful exercises that can be included in Tabata. It provides strength, power, and endurance to the body. Burpee helps strengthen various muscles of the body, including the glutes, quadriceps, and chest muscles.

Stand in a straight position. Keep the distance between both feet equal to your shoulder width. Squat down and move into the push-up position. Push back yourself and jump to move into a squat position. Jump into the air with both hands raised overhead. Exhale the air while jumping up. Land smoothly and softly on the mat.

Continue this exercise for 20 seconds. Take 10 seconds’ rest and repeat the process eight times. 

#2 Plank Jacks

Plank Jacks

To initiate this exercise, get into a push-up position with feet kept together. Spread your feet apart as wide as possible by initiating a small jump. Jump again and bring back your feet to the starting position. Keep your body as stable as possible. Repeat the movements for 20 seconds. Take 10 seconds’ rest and repeat the interval eight times. 

#3 Push Ups

Push ups

It is one of the most familiar exercises that we usually do during our exercise regimen. Get into a pushup position with palms kept slightly wider than the shoulder level. Lower your body in a straight line till your chin almost touches the floor. Exhale and push your body back to starting position. Continue this exercise for 20 seconds. Take 10 seconds’ rest and repeat the interval eight times. 

#4 Tabata Sprints

Tabata sprints

Tabata sprints can be performed outdoors on a flat surface or indoors on a treadmill. Stand straight with your chest tall and shoulders relaxed. Run as fast as possible for 20 seconds. Take 10 seconds’ rest and repeat the interval eight times. 

#5 Plank Jump-ins to Pushup

Get into a pushup position with palms and feet kept slightly wider than the shoulder level. Jump in and land your feet near the elbows. Jump out and take the feet back to the starting position. Now lower your body in a straight line till your chin almost touches the floor. Exhale and push your body back to starting position. Continue this exercise for 20 seconds. Take 10 seconds’ rest and repeat the interval eight times. 

#6 Side Skaters

Side skaters - Tabata workout

Side skaters improve your stamina and strengthen your leg muscles. Start the exercise by standing straight with feet kept hip-width apart. Jump onto your right side and land on the right foot while placing the left leg behind the body without touching the ground. Then, jump to the left and land on your left foot while placing the right leg behind the body without touching the ground. Continue this exercise for 20 seconds. Take 10 seconds’ rest and repeat the interval eight times.

#7 Scissors Kick

Scissors kick

To perform this exercise, lie down on your back and keep your hands below the hip. Extend the legs straight and hold them off the floor. Now criss-cross the legs wide and close for 20 seconds. Take 10 seconds’ rest and repeat the interval eight times.

#8 Jump Rope

Jump rope - Tabata workout

Jump rope is an effective workout for your entire body. Keep a symmetry and tall posture while doing this exercise. Take a jumping rope and hold the two ends of it. Revolve the rope from your head to the legs and jump as the rope moves beneath your legs. Skip the rope for 20 seconds. Take 10 seconds’ rest and repeat the interval eight times.

#9 Mountain Climbers

Mountain climbers - Tabata workout

Get into a pushup position with palms kept shoulder-width apart and feet together. Drive one leg towards your chest by bending the knee. Alternate with the other leg. Continue this exercise for 20 seconds. Take 10 seconds’ rest and repeat the interval eight times.

#10 Jumping Lunges

Jumping lunges - Tabata workout

It is more demanding than the traditional lunges. The jumping lunges improve cardiovascular fitness and build strength in the leg muscles. Stand straight in a split stance with one foot kept front and the other at the back. Lower the body into a lunge position by bending both knees. Now jump up and switch the legs to lower the body into a lunge position. Continue this exercise for 20 seconds. Take 10 seconds’ rest and repeat the interval eight times.

Tabata workout improves health in several ways. Various studies have concluded that it improves cardiorespiratory endurance, as well as muscle strength. It is necessary to take precautions if you are a beginner. Further, the cardiac patients should also take advice from the doctors before starting the Tabata workout.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. Is Tabata more effective than running?

A. Yes. Tabata is more effective than running in terms of burning calories. The Tabata workout burns almost 30% more calories as compared to running. People performing Tabata burn an average of 13 – 15 calories per minute.

Q. Is Tabata dangerous?

A. Tabata is a high-intensity exercise regimen, and people should do it with caution. The modification in the original Tabata version, with no scientific evidence, may do more harm than good. People may opt for Tabata only for weight loss, which is not its actual use. Further, it’s not really recommended for beginners to start with Tabata.

Q. What is the difference between Tabata and conventional High-intensity interval training?

A. There is a difference between the Tabata and conventional high-intensity interval training. The intensity level of Tabata is higher with a low recovery time as compared to conventional HIIT. Some people are unable to continue Tabata training because of its extensive intensity.

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