Tabata Training – Short and Effective Workouts

Pin It

The Sprinter Tabata Training was developed by Dr. Izumi Tabata in Tokyo, He figured out a way to get maximal anerobic and aerobic benefits from a short and simple workout which can be done with a variety of exercises. I like to use these as a short workout when I have limited time; Often doing 5-10 minutes of Tabata Protocol followed by some stretching.

Twenty – Ten

Tabata training is simply doing an exercise for 20 seconds non stop then taking 10 seconds off before repeating the cycle for 8 cycles this means you can get a hugely effective workout in about 5 minutes per exercise. Which will test you not only aerobically but will build muscular endurance and size.

Proven Benefits

- A Hugely effective fat burner, due to effect on the metabolism.

- Release of Anabolic Hormones thanks to Lactic acid release in muscles.

- Short and Effective workouts are ideal for those who have limited time to workout.

- Can be done anywhere with anything from Crunches to Heavy Squats.

How to Get Started

Getting started with Tabata is easy you just need to pick and exercise and keep your eye on the clock the 20/10 intervals are a rough guideline so don’t sweat it if you rest for a second too long or do the exercise for 23 seconds instead of 20. So long as you are roughly getting things right then you will be fine – Although do try to stick as closely as you can to 20 on 10 off as any other time limits are NOT Tabata Protocol and won’t be as effective…..

Pick an Exercise which can either be a body weight movement like:



-Body weight Squats



Or a Weighted Movement:

-Kettle Bell Swings




Whatever you choose simply go all out for 20 seconds. Take a 10 Second rest. Repeat 7 times. This will not only initiate a crazy burn in your muscles it will get your heart rate up making you feel like you have really worked your body. Beware though the first few times you do Tabata Training you will experience some severe soreness the next day.

Why I Love Tabata

It was when I was told about Tabata Training by a friend while back that I first experimented with the protocol. I wasn’t expecting too much upon trying it out but was shocked at how hard it actually is once you try it. As well as this I found the shorter workouts make things far more exciting as your always pushing and it makes those 10 second rest periods feel amazing all be it like very little rest. Tabata Training also seemed to a good sense of well-being as it promotes circulation and metabolism.

An Ideal Tabata Workout would be 8-12 Minutes of Tabata and some stretching with relaxation (Breathing) this keeps the workout short and allows you to stretch out and relax the mind after the workout. Its perfect to do first thing in the morning with something like Pushups or Lunges.

Plus I enjoy knowing that the method has been well researched and is used by a variety of Olympic athletes to great effect.

TABATA PROTOCOL Timer Click to Download……


If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to our free articles or checking out the Zen to Fitness newsletter….


  1. Methuselah - Pay Now Live Later says

    Tabata is the king! I have been doing them for several months and I am as fit as I was when I was instead doing 5+ mile runs 3 times a week.

    One excellent way to ensure you get the benefits to fitness of tabata without your muscles giving up before the end is to cycle around different exercises for the 8 intervals. For example – do press-ups then squats then pull-ups then thrusters – then back to press-ups. Then your muscle groups get a rest in between but your lungs should still be working hard.

    For single-exercise tabata, I have personally found the toughest of the lot to be:

    Rowing machine

    If you truly go all-out, a sprinting tabata has got to be the toughest routine I have ever done, but ultimately the most rewarding…

  2. Chris says

    @ Methuselah: Superb addition to the post; I never thought of the mixing up of 3 exercises into one Tabata workout, I will give it a try tomorrow morning as I was planning a Tabata Workout consisting of:
    -Kettlebell Swings
    Alternating for 8 sets, should get me going. Cool to see that you have had great results with Tabata, its a very cool training method!

  3. Lance says

    I tried a Tabata workout for the first time, about two years ago. It looked so simple on paper. 20 seconds of work, 10 seconds of rest. Boy was I wrong! It was a killer workout. I now incorporate them every once in a while. There a great workout, and, if you’re short on time – they are a quick workout too! Now, I want to do one again – sometime in the next week I’ll crank one out – I need to be punished!

  4. Kat says

    I’ve been interested in metabolic intervals recently and have been researching different workouts other than sprinting (which I love) to incorporate into my daily workout that has the same basic method. This sounds great! Thanks for some new ideas for my workout tomorrow!

  5. Keith Norris says

    This is my go-to protocol when I’m traveling, as it works great with all manner of bodweight exercises. And, like everyone else who’s tried Tabatas, I can vouch for their effectiveness. It’s one of those things that look easy on paper, but that are another thing entirely in practice. Download a Tabata timer to your iPod, and you’re good to go.

  6. Piech says

    I love Tabata’s! Friday is Tabata Day where I do a series of protocols with different muscle groups.

    They really kick you up to the next level fast.

  7. Chris says

    @ Piech: Thanks for the comment, Tabata Fridays seem like a good idea; I think I should assign myself a Tabata day per week!!
    @ Keith: Thanks for the tip with the tabata interval timer, I found one on the CrossFit Forums and have loaded it on my ipod, will make things interesting!!
    @ Kat: Definitely give it a go, you can download a Tabata Timer Interval for your iPod over here: will make it far easier!

  8. Marshall says

    Hi Guys!! I am new into the world of fitness freaks.. Recently after joining gym for a few days, I have started enjoying my workouts. This is the first time I have heard about Tabata Training…it seems quite interesting and going through the positive responses it seems to have worked for you all… I am gonna start it from today. It will a great form of exercise when I am traveling which I do quite frequently..I hope it works for me as well it does for all of you. I am looking forward to a hard session of Tabata and hope it is not too sore. Thanks for the great post and wish me luck.

  9. Jeff says

    I like tabatas and do them when I am short of time or as an exercise to start. I don’t like them every day and think it might be better to mix up the length of time and rest length, but I am not sure. It seems to me that the body might get used to the 20/10. I like to do them from time to time while doing longer intervals at various lengths from time to time.

    Keep it variable and it seems to be better, but I am no expert.

  10. Will says

    Tabata Training!! Earlier I thought it was some kind of martial arts!! Like judo or karate.. Your blog cleared my concept and I am surely gonna try it!! Might just be the right thing for my workout routine!! Thanks pal!

  11. Chris says

    @ Jason: Thanks for the comment very good idea. Thanks for the link I have never tried anything but weighted exercises for tabata so this looks like a very good idea, all be it extremely challenging. Thanks for dropping in.

  12. axel g says

    I’ve been into swimming for years. It’s fun and gentle on the body.

    Tabata training sounds like a great alternative…

  13. Zebb Hayaba says

    I do tabata from time to time at the end of my training… Usually i do exercises for stomach and pushups. After that i can’t do anything else :)

    I use simple beeper to indicate intervals. It is simple program for my cell phone, so i can do tabatas in the gym. Here is a link for it:

  14. Andrew G. says

    Does anybody know which frequency is best? Once a week, twice a week, every other day? What did Tabata teach his athletes about that? Can you mix it with ‘normal’ interval training?

  15. Chris says

    @ Zebb: Tabata training is something worth throwing into training sessions at odd times maybe 1-3 times a week. Its a great tool to shock the body and trigger some fat loss or muscle growth….

  16. Jake says

    I do Tabata training twice a week. Instead of sticking to just one exercise, I do a variety. I start with a body weight squat, then do push ups, then wide grip pull ups followed by thrusters, and then mountain climbers. I do nine rounds, rest four minutes, and then do nine more rounds. I think I’m going to start incorporating this training into my morning runs, as well. I want to do more sprints rather than just running a few miles. This is a great post, and Tabata is a great idea to try out.

  17. Sarah Harris says

    I find all the above very confusing.

    Tabata is a fantastic workout and takes four minutes.

    But wait!

    Some people above do several tabatas one after the other. So the one four minute workout is not so good.

    if you say it is then the Jake routing: “I do nine rounds, rest four minutes, and then do nine more rounds.” is not helping him?

    Hang on, “An Ideal Tabata Workout would be 8-12 Minutes of Tabata and some stretching with relaxation” – so much for the four minutes!

    So – which is best?

    4 minutes or more
    single exercise or varied?

    Thank you

    @ Sarah: You can do various exercises one after the other. For instance I sometime do 4 minutes of Tabata Squats. Then 4 Minutes of Tabata push-ups then another 4 minutes of lunges. This takes a total of 12 minutes (usually closer to 15 as I take a few minutes between exercises) so that’s how you push Tabata’s to 12 minutes, hope it makes sense….

  18. Sarah says


    Thank you for your answer but…

    If the tabata four minutes is a work-out all by itself then why do more? Some do more when they do several tabatas and/or simply add tabata to the end of an ordinary work-out.

    If tabata is stand-alone sufficient then I see the point but if it’s merely an add-on they why do people rave about it?

  19. Bill says

    You can find a Tabata Timer for your iPhone or iPod Touch over here………. It has visual as well as auditory cues so that you can watch or listen for your activity and rest periods. If you are listening to music on your device, the sound cues will overlay your music.

    @ Bill: Many thanks for the link. Very useful app I just downloaded it and look forward to testing it out.

  20. Mbwebwe Ngo'omo says

    I am use good and most estemed of educated technique run fast. 20 second pushup make n’gogo proud like a tree and women want many sons. Make visit to many women. Many hut. Women want fish very much

  21. Emma says

    After I lost 14.5 kgs (I want to lose 25) I hit a weight loss plateau. I couldn’t eat any better and didn’t have time for a longer work out. My friend put me on to Tabata and my weight is moving again. I found this site which made MP3′s which plays 8 reps of 20 seconds of music then 10 silence. Saves me counting!

    Check it out!

  22. MikeD says

    Remember, if you use different exercises, the lactic acid buildup won’t be present as much, so you won’t get the entire benefit of tabata.

    Be sure to use exercises for big muscle groups (front squats or thrusts) or you won’t get the full benefit. Tabata will never ever work as well using cruches or pushups.

    @ MikeD: That is a great point and one I never thought of. So Tabata for compounds is the way to go….

  23. MikeD says

    Ladies and Gents,

    I put my theory to the test yesterday and today and it seemed valid. Yesterday, I did a 4min Tabata using squats with 95 lbs (all the way down past 90 degrees due to the lighter weight), and by the end, I was in another dimension, breathing like a locomotive, and I couldn’t get off the ground for about 5 minutes…but it felt great, almost euphoric.

    Today, I did a separate tabatas with curls, bench dumbell flyes, and also rope pulley crunches, and all together, they didn’t add up to the exhaustion caused by the tabata squats.

  24. Alison says

    I think HIIT intervals are great and very effective, but I’m going to focus on shorter Tabata workouts also, because of the science behind the short rest periods. I did my first session last night, with a music timer on my ipod and using max force jumping jacks… I warmed up with 4 or 5 minutes and followed it by another 10 minutes of steady state, medium intensity, and followed that by a half hour of cardio sculpting (toning with lots of reps of light weights, bodyweight moves, while keeping the heartrate up with bits of cardio throughout).

    Of course, the intensity of doing Tabata or any sort of HIIT interval cardio before toning work makes me a bit weaker than if I’d gone into it fresh or with a moderate steady state cardio in advance. But I had heard a good tip that if you’re fat burning, it’s good to start with HIIT and then do regular cardio, which makes sense. So for me Tabata or any type of HIIT is an add-on to my already scheduled workout, which will amp up the fat and calorie burning. In a big way, I’m sure, I’ve lost inches and gained muscle, but it’s too early to really tell.

    I got some good insight from these comments – a lot of people have talked about Tabata crunches or pushups, etc., or mixed Tabata routines, and it’s good to know they’re not the protocol and not likely as effective. I saw a video of people doing Tabata squats… and while it can be tough on the muscles, I don’t see how it really gets your heartrate up – unless they’re squats with a jump and raising the arms… the people doing the squats look like their muscles are exhausted, but they’re not winded…

    Personally, I think jumping jacks are simple but great, just go as fast as you possibly can (your max intensity). I think if they get too easy at some point, I’ll just add resistance bands. I love that Tabata’s only high impact for a couple of minutes, versus the longer interval workouts where you may be jumping around for 7-15 minutes in total.

  25. Luke R. says

    I have a serious love/hate relationship with tabata. I love the quickness, intensity, and results…But man does it burn.

    The first time my buddy and I did tabata for calves, we had to walk on our tip-toes for the following 3 days. Almost used an old pair of crutches, no joke.

  26. stablebou says

    “For example – do press-ups then squats then pull-ups then thrusters – then back to press-ups. Then your muscle groups get a rest in between but your lungs should still be working hard.”
    Where I have been able to read about this?

  27. RusA says

    I was thinking of the following;

    10 minutes light cardio warmup
    then 3 4 minute cycles of the following
    #1 push ups with dumbbell squats
    #2 dumbbell curls with weighted circles
    #3 jumping lunges with mason twists

    then a 5 to 10 minutes cool down / stretch.

    should be in and out of the gym in like 35 minutes max

  28. Bernard says

    Do Tobata squats build muscle?

    @ Bernard: They do indeed, not huge bodybuilder muscle but they will certainly tone up and add muscle to the legs.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>