Complete Tabata Work Out

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Complete Tabata Work Out


What is Tabata?

Tabata is a form of interval training that falls under the umbrella of HIIT exercise or high-intensity interval training. It requires you to perform only 20 minutes to complete a workout, but the level of intensity means it pushes your body extremely hard, and this contributes to the effectiveness of the workout.

History of Tabata

Tabata is one of the newer forms of exercise that was developed by a doctor from Japan called Dr Izumi Tabata, who was studying the science behind exercise and decided to carry out a study focused on interval training which leads to the formation of Tabata.

The test group used were all fit and healthy speed skaters, and he devised two test scenarios where one group were asked to use static bikes, exercising for 60 minutes at a medium intensity.

They were asked to do this for 5 days a week and continue for 6 weeks. The other group used the principles of interval training, and the Tabata approach he was hoping to prove as more effective.

Their program which also went on for 6 weeks consisted of the same static bikes, this time exercising for 4 days a week. Their routine required them to complete four minutes of 20/10 exercise. 20/10 refers to an interval training method of 20 seconds at maximum, really pushing yourself, flat out exercise, then resting for 10 seconds, before starting again. This gives a 4-minute workout.

More Than Just Cycling

While the study was carried out on static bikes in order to create a fair and level test base, the development of Tabata allows for any form of interval training.

The results showed that the group using the new Tabata model increased their aerobic and anaerobic levels more than the other group. Anaerobic fitness increased by a huge 28%, showing that a shorter overall exercise period at a higher intensity was far more beneficial.

Tabata Now

Tabata has now developed to use a massive range of exercises, from running and cycling to squats or burpees, so is much more extensive than it used to be.

It is possible to be flexible about the way in which you complete the routine, as long as the golden rules of 20/10 are observed. As with all exercise forms, variations are already being devised but true Tabata sticks to the principles of 4-minute circuits for 20 minutes (so five rounds).
The key thing with this form of training though is that maximum Intensity is preserved at all times in order to achieve the desired results.

Common Tabata Mistakes

Perhaps the most common mistake that people make with Tabata training is assuming they can plod through a circuit at a pace that might be considered working to a satisfactory level but is in fact well below your maximum possible intensity.

Tabata should be a very strenuous workout and if you are not feeling highly drained and pushed beyond your normal levels at the end of a Tabata workout then you simply haven’t worked at a high enough intensity!

Maximum intensity is the absolute most you can offer, and you need to work at that level for the whole 20 mins to gain the most benefit from this kind of workout.
Tabata is an advanced form of exercise
Tabata is generally regarded as an exercise routine for more advanced fitness enthusiasts, and therefore may not be right for you at this time is you are just a beginner.

Having said this, there is a modified version of Tabata that might be right for you, which could serve to build you up gradually to the right level to perform high-intensity Tabata once you are ready.

The Health Benefits of Tabata Training

Tabata training has a wide range of benefits for fitness and health that make it a great form of exercise.

Below we list the main benefits of Tabata Training and summarise why it’s so effective for improving health, fitness and personal wellbeing.

Time Savings

The highly reduced and condensed durations of Tabata workouts increases an individual’s willingness to work out regularly. It would be difficult to argue that you can’t fit in just 4 to minutes of Tabata Training a day, which is one key factor that makes Tabata Training such a motivating form of exercise to perform on a regular basis – no matter how busy you might be.
Bonus Tips: You should always ensure that when you are searching for a reputable and capable personal trainer who can carry out Tabata Training classes for you, you use the right resources to check credentials, qualifications and specific experience etc.

We recommend visiting the (Register of Fitness professionals) REPS website to check this information from a highly reliable source

Tabata Training is just one form of different exercise that we recommend

For more ideas and inspiration on other forms of training that you could and should try, we recommend visiting and looking through their superb and highly detailed resource for all things fitness related.

Fat Burning

Firstly, because of the intensity, Tabata will keep working on the metabolism after the workout has finished. Without a doubt, your heart rate will rocket, and this, in turn, raises the metabolism. In order to work out at that level, the body has to work. If you then develop a routine whereby Tabata becomes part of your week, the BMR, which is your base or resting metabolic rate increases. This means even away from a class you are going to be burning more energy than you were before, and in-class you are looking at 15 times increase to that BMR. Burn baby burn!


Excess oxygen consumption after exercise (EPOC, informally called afterburn) is a measurably higher oxygen intake rate after strenuous activity aimed at erasing the “oxygen deficiency” of the body. Nevertheless, to this day, the term “oxygen debt” is still commonly used. Oxygen (EPOC) is used in recovery processes that restore the body to a state of rest and adapt it to the exercise that has just been done.

Another use of EPOC is to boost the increased metabolism of the body from the body temperature rise that happens during exercise. EPOC is followed by increased fuel consumption. THAT IS FAT!

The EPOC effect is greatest soon after completion of the exercise and declines over time to a lower level. Anaerobic exercise in the form of high-intensity interval training was also found in one study to result in greater loss of subcutaneous fat, although during exercise the subjects spent less than half as many calories! Results in a 1992 Purdue study showed that high intensity, anaerobic style exercise resulted in an EPOC magnitude significantly higher than an aerobic exercise of equal work efficiency.

It means you will continue to burn fat through EPOC for up to 48 hours after you finish if your workouts are short and intense. If you’re doing LSD (stable exercise on a treadmill, outside, elliptical, etc.) EPOC will end very soon after you’ve done it!

Training period (fast / rest) is the best way to achieve and sustain speed. Interval is the strongest of cardio and King of intervals are Tabata (20 seconds of hard workout/10 seconds rest)!

By the way, in your resistance training (lifting) there’s also a way to get the EPOC effect. Weight lifting using compound lifts, or multi-joint weight lifting exercises performing a weight lifting circuit that alternates between upper and lower body exercises will put a greater demand on the muscles involved for Adenosine triphosphate, or short ATP.

ATP is a molecule of high energy found in each cell. The role is to store and supply the necessary energy to the cell. Increased demand for anaerobic ATP also results in increased demand for the aerobic system to resupply the muscles with ATP during rest periods and recovery during exercise.

This means more important than length is strength. Exercise sessions must be short, quick and difficult. Cardio must be intervals of high intensity,

whether it is circuits of body weight, sprints, or some type of machine such as elliptical or treadmill. Lifting must encourage compound exercises such as squats, deadlifts, bench pressing, over isolation exercises such as curls or extensions of legs.

After exercise is over, cardio sessions alone will give you the EPOC effect for up to 48 hours!

The Two A’s

We are all familiar with the term aerobic, and of course, Tabata is a form of aerobic exercise. Your aerobic capacity it the maximum amount of oxygen you consume during vigorous exercise. Tabata can significantly increase this. Anaerobic refers to the maximum amount of energy your body can produce during the absence of oxygen. To get this energy the body burns carbohydrates.

In the original test studies that Dr Tabata carried out, participants saw a 28% increase in the anaerobic capacity and a 14% increase in their aerobic capacity.

Good for Muscle Tissue

When we use diet to lose weight, we are also running the risk of losing not only fat but muscle tissue. To keep muscles in good condition we need to work them, and the high-intensity interval training method offered by Tabata does just this and helps the body develop muscle tissue rather than damage it. Longer cardio workouts such as endurance running can place strain or damaged muscle tissue. With Tabata, participants will find that their lean body mass fast goes up.

Short and Sweet

Ok, so time is not a direct benefit to health, but this can be a driving factor when it comes to exercise routines. Many people do not want to go to the gym for hours, and others simply do not have the time. Because a Tabata session is only 20 minutes long, the motivation to work is higher. Due to nature and intensity, it is also is not something that you would do daily. Rather something to be done twice a week, and with such benefits on offer, this again is a great motivator to those short on time. No equipment is needed, so there is nothing to purchase, just turn up to classes and pay the class fee.

It is, of course, necessary with all forms of exercise that you warm up the body before diving in, otherwise there is a risk of injury from cold muscles.

How to do a Tabata Workout Yourself

Not everyone loves the buzz of an exercise class and prefer to exercise alone. Others may find that they cannot get to the gym or studio at the time a Tabata class is being held due to other commitments. Or maybe you just want to top up at home before attending classes later in the week. Whatever your reasons, doing a Tabata workout for yourself is something a lot of people want to do, so here is how to get started.

First, Learn the Routine
Tabata is a form of high-intensity interval training but what sets it apart from other forms of HIIT exercise is the strict timing mechanism. A circuit in Tabata consists of a continuous flow of movement (no stopping for a rest or drink here people) operating under the 20/10 rule. So, a circuit goes as follows

Exercise 20 secs
Rest 10 secs
Repeat 4-8 Times

The exercise moves used are not the most important factor, but we will look at some you could use below. What is crucial is that you maintain the circuit above and ensure that your exercise periods are at maximum, got nothing more to give, intensity level.

So, you will need timers that do not distract you, that you can see without having to stop.

Tabata Timer

A Tabata timer is essentially a stopwatch that counts the time down for you for your 20 seconds of activity and 10 seconds of rest through 8 rounds. There are online Tabata timers, but if you download the 8fit app and do one of our Tabata workouts, we’ll take care of the timing for you.

I personally use an app called Intervals pro, which allows you to custom timers

Now, Add Some Exercises.

Once you are confident, you can remember the timings, pick some exercises – again you need to remember them and not stop to look at what comes next. Some people pick 8 entirely different exercises; others pick 4 and repeat, the choice is yours. The beauty of Tabata is it only requires yourself. Accessories are optional, and we will get to those shortly. Here are a few suggestions for your exercise plans:

Jumping Jacks
High Knee Jogging
Jump Squats
Ice Skaters
Tuck Jumps

Of course, the list is up to you, and if needed write it on a whiteboard or piece of paper you can see at all times.

Add to the Mix

Now, as we mentioned, equipment is optional, but some people love to mix up their exercises by adding props such as

Jump ropes
Medicine balls

Just be careful that they do not become a distraction, and you are not scrambling to pick up or put down something.

You can also use a stationary bike or treadmill, the key aspects of your Tabata workout are the all-important timings and the intensity. How you achieve, this is largely up to you.

Tabata Boxing

Here are some things you may or may not know about me. I like to use boxing for fitness first of all. Second, I’m a huge Tabata Protocol fan.

Sounds pretty easy right? Tabatas are a sure way to kick your butt in a rush, well done at the prescribed strength. Not only that but they’re also going to get you fit in a hurry and drop those unwanted kilos before you know it.

Give your workout a try as a finisher for the following boxing workout or go a few rounds on your own. You can use gloves and concentration pads or shadow boxing on your own

Perform a maximum effort every round for 20 seconds, followed by 10 seconds of rest.

1. Double Hooks (Left hook, left hook, right hook, right hook)

2. Hook and Bob (Left hook, bob, right hook, bob)

3. Jab, Cross, Jab, 3 shuffles then southpaw Jab, Cross, Jab, 3 shuffles.

4. Left Uppercut, right uppercut, left uppercut, 3 shuffles then southpaw right uppercut, left uppercut, right uppercut, 3 shuffles.

5. Repeated Jab, Cross.

6. Repeated Left Uppercut, Right Uppercut.

7. Jab, cross, jab, cross, 4 shuffles.

8. Left uppercut, right uppercut, left uppercut, right uppercut, 4 shuffles.
The Warnings

As with all exercise routines, you should ensure that you warm up properly before you begin to limit the risk of injury. Dr Tabata developed the practice for those who already have a level of fitness, so care needs to be taken if you are new to exercise and have yet to attain a fitness level.

Example Of Home Tabata Workout
4 Total Minutes of High-Intensity Work
20 seconds work
10 seconds rest
Repeat 8 times

Beginner Tabata workout plan

This total-body Tabata workout plan example for beginners features one cardio-focused exercise, one leg exercise, and one core exercise. During the 60-second recovery periods, jog in place, pace around the room or simply stand — the goal is to bring your heart rate down before the next Tabata.

High knees: Warm up with eight rounds of high knees – 20 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of rest
60-second recovery
Squats or lunges: Do eight rounds of your chosen leg exercise — 20 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of rest
60-second recovery
Crunches: Do eight rounds of crunches — 20 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of rest

Advanced Tabata workout plan

Looking for an advanced, total-body Tabata workout plan? Do this routine two or three times per week to build strength and break a major sweat. During the 60-second recovery periods between Tabatas, jog in place, pace around the room or simply stand. Breathe deep and bring your heart rate down before the next Tabata.

Burpees: Warm up with eight rounds of burpees––20 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of rest
60-second recovery
Dynamic squats or Bulgarian split squats with a hop: Do eight rounds of your chosen leg exercise – 20 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of rest
60-second recovery
Spiderman plank: Do eight rounds of spiderman planks––20 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of rest

Sounds easy, right?! It’s not. What’s great about it is that the 20 seconds is up so quickly it doesn’t even give you a chance to think “I can’t do this, it’s so hard.” The best part is you can do it with any exercises – at home, at the gym, anywhere! You can also tailor a Tabata workout to the length of time you have – I usually do 8 exercises, with one minute of rest between. That takes about 40ish minutes to complete.

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