Comprehensive Guide to Tabata Training


tabata training

Going through a regular workout routine is one of the best ways in which you can maintain yourself physically fit. If you don’t exercise all that often, it can be difficult trying to get started.

However, soon you’ll find that once you get into a regular rhythm, it becomes a lot easier to keep things going on.

When you will become more experienced, you might be looking for ways to gain even more fitness, especially if you’re an aspiring athlete. There are a ton of different regimes and styles to choose from, but one that tends to offer the most significant improvement in the shortest amount of time is a Japanese method called Tabata (T.).

Tabata Protocol – The Basics

This one is a form of high-intensity workout with a very basic premise. Essentially, you perform sets of ultra-intense exercises for 20 full seconds, then go through 10 sec. of rest, thus forming one “cycle”.

These cycles are then repeated for about 4 minutes or so, or even more depending on how much weight you want to lose, and how much fitness you want to gain. The basic protocol of Tabata is pretty straightforward, but what really counts is what you do in those 20 seconds.

There are many routines and videos you can follow, each emphasizing different parts of the body. No matter which one you choose, its high intensity nature will mean that you get a little bit of a cardio each time you go through it.

Yes, There Are 3 Great Benefits

Benefit #1 – Better Fitness Level

In a scientific study, athletes were told to use this method as their primary form of preparation. The results show that when going through this method 4 times a week, plus one day of steady-state training, these athletes were able to obtain same gains that rival athletes who went through steady-state method for 5 days.

Additionally, people who were using Tabata started at a lower level of overall fitness.

Benefit #2 – Greater Anaerobic Capacity

Clearly this can be a path to healthy and strong body at a faster rate than a lot of other ways of working out. However, this isn’t the only benefit.

It has also been observed that T. will offer some increases in anaerobic capacity, which can turn into bigger improvements since, unlike cardio, anaerobic workouts mean that you’re essentially not using oxygen (or using more than you take in).

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This can also mean that such a routine can be more difficult to perform than usual, which is why this method tends to be restricted to those who are already pretty fit. Still, it’s one of the best methods to use when you want to gain a lot in a short amount of time.

Benefit #3 – Higher Aerobic Levels

What is more, this technique also has the benefit of improving your aerobic fitness as well. While it has benefits that ordinary cardio does not have, it also shares many of the same upsides. This means that you’ll get a more complete workout with Tabata.

Your body will also have higher metabolism during this exercise, thus allowing you to burn more fat as well as calories even after you’ve finished working out.

There Are Also 3 Downsides

  1. Requires strong willpower – In terms of physical health effects, there are no real downsides to its practice. However, given the fact that it’s a high intensity workout, it can take a bit of willpower to keep it going if you’re not used to doing that much of working out.
  2. Dangerous for inexperienced – You also need to make sure that you can handle yourself in case you decide to use weights during your T. routine. Since it’s really intense, you might start rushing through your exercises, which can lead to injury in case you’re not careful enough.
  3. Requires good physique – You also need to be physically capable of intense workouts in general. Those who are prone to heart attacks or strokes may need to reconsider whether this is the right method; it tends to be very strenuous in a relatively short period of time.

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Extra advice: Consult your doctor in case you are unsure about this!

Best Sources of Tabata Routines & Intervals

Source #1 –

One workout method from Obi Obadike outlines a different set of techniques for two times a week (Monday and Wednesday), with each day being only 4 minutes. On Monday he mentions exercises like:

  • Mountain climbers
  • High knees
  • Burpees
  • Air squats

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And for Wednesday he mentions:

  • The “suicide” move
  • Overhead slam
  • Air squats
  • Heavy bag thrusts

Click Here to See The Complete Routine

You do one set of max reps for 20 seconds, then rest for 10 sec. Overall it’s a solid routine, but with these, it can be a little difficult pulling them off if you’re inexperienced!

Source #2 –

Another workout set designed by Adrian Crowe is a list of 15 different exercises that you can perform, including:

  • Hang clean
  • Clean & press
  • Kettle bell deadlift
  • DB thrusters
  • Kettle bell swings
  • Bosu ball on/off
  • Jump switch lunges, etc.

Click Here to See The Complete Routine

Something to note is that there is only a loose list of exercises here; it’s up to you to find a good pattern for these throughout the week. Just discover what works best for you!

Source #3 –

A routine offered by Mens Health is a simpler, but nonetheless valued version. They provide three different “finishers”, with techniques that include:

  • Stationary running
  • Stationary mountain climber
  • Seal jacks
  • Push-up jacks
  • Skater jumps
  • ‘Plank to push-up’

Click Here to See The Complete Routine

This one might be more appropriate for people who cannot perform some of the more extreme techniques.

Source #4 –

For those wanting to build strength, offers a solid routine. They provide four different sets of workouts, that include:

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  • Squats
  • Curl & press left/right
  • Front/rear lunges
  • Hammer curl with power squat
  • Squat press
  • Walking push-ups
  • Core kickbacks
  • Pulsing dumbbell rows
  • Rear lunge with double arm bow

Click Here to See The Complete Routine

It’s a varied set of exercises, but it may be ideal for those who want to build strength without doing anything too crazy.

3 Free Helpful Tools

A bit of technology can help you along the way as you train for better overall fitness. There are a couple of different tools you can use to assist you in properly timing your T. routine.

Tool #1 – Tabata Training Timer


This is one really helpful utility. It works entirely within a web browser, which means it can work on nearly any computer or mobile device.

Click Here to Get The Timer

It allows you to select various periods for your workout and set the intervals. It keeps track of how many rounds you’ve worked and rested as well as the total number of cycles.

It’s a fairly simple tool, but immensely useful when you don’t have anything else you can use to plan your workout.

Tool #2 – Tabata Timer Mobile Application


If you happen to have an iPhone or iPad, there’s also a (currently) free app you can get from the App Store.

Click Here to Download This Mobile App

It’s a little bit simpler than the mentioned web-based tool, but nonetheless works perfectly for this technique — 4 minutes of alternating 20 second workouts followed by 10 sec. of resting.

Once you press Start, it takes care of everything for you, signaling the completion of a work or rest period using appropriate alarm noises.

Tool #3 – Best Music & Songs for Tabata

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One of the essential parts of all these regimes is rhythmic & energizing music! It will help you to keep that necessary high intensity pace.

Pay attention! If you want to find good source of music that was created directly for tabata then this is really great source –

Training DVDs & Videos You Need to Have


  • The 4 Minute Workout Tabata TM: The Official DVD (2013) – This one is a good video that you can employ. It’s priced at about $16 and offers a solid introduction to the practice of Tabata. It’s fairly cheap and is designed for those who have not performed this before.
  • 10 Minute Solution: High Intensity Interval Training (2013) – This is another great video program. It is a cheaper one priced at only $9.00 and includes a number of varied techniques you can do in 10 minutes. It’s not quite considered T. training, but it’s fairly close and may be good for those who don’t need quite as intense of a workout.
  • XTRAIN: Tabatacise – Finally, here is our last pick. This is one of the more expensive of these three at about $20, but it offers a more comprehensive and intense guide than the other two. This one is likely more appropriate for those more experienced with working out in general.

Further Resources

Hello, I hope you find here all the best info that will help you lose weight and feel healthy and fit. My pen name is Christine and I want to make this site a great resource for those that want to get fit. Please, keep in mind that this website is for informational purposes only and that you always need to consult your decisions with your doctor.
  • Brook

    I do Tabata 2x a week. The other 2 days I have my own high intensity workout that I like to do. I’m training to do some mountain climbing (one of my life goals is Everest!) so it’s important for me to build up serious endurance and strength.

    A high intensity workout like Tabata is good for strength. But I need longer, heavier sets to prepare my body for the task of climbing a mountain with all of my equipment. I would say it’s perfect for breaking a sweat when you don’t have much time.

  • Natalie90

    Lately I’ve been working 12-16 hour days, so I don’t have a lot of time to workout. I’ve been doing Tabata for 20-30 minutes a day before I go to work, and what a difference I feel. Exercise brings me back to life. Instead of making me tired, it gives me a ton of energy.

    My ex-boyfriend used to do a quick exercise routine before going to his night job, and I always wondered why. Now I get it. You get energy and quick shot of endorphins, so you mentally feel better. Even though my time is limited, I squeeze my Tabata in everyday.

  • Camille

    I never heard of Tabata before, so thanks for explaining Christine. Because I don’t have a lot of body fat (mainly in my tummy) I tend to gravitate towards high intensity workouts. For me, they deliver results a lot faster. If I go hard for a week, and I cut out the sugary, fatty foods, I literally see results within 7 days. I’ll definitely need a timer to make sure I’m doing this one correctly though. I always learn great stuff here!

  • SkinnyChick

    I totally love the way you explained Tabata. I have done 2 classes at my local gym and fell in love with this workout. Yes its very intense, but the results are so amazing. You get a rush from working out so fast, your body wants more! The class I took was for 25 minutes, my only advice is to listen to your body, don’t over do it at first, but don’t give up. You can take 30 minutes from a 24 hour day and take care of the body you have. Not only does my body feel lighter, my mind feels better when I workout.

  • Glory Burton

    I used to jog everyday for 2 hours and let me tell you, i lost weight but it was very slowly, mainly because it takes awhile for your body to get into the “fat burning stage” so I switched to Tabata, one of the benefits of Tabata is that your metabolism will stay at a high not only during the workout, but after the workout as well. This means that your body will be burning fat even when you aren’t doing anything.So you will lose faster then by just jogging. Please share any food tips! I would love to know what you recommend??

    • Georgie’s Girl

      Hi Glory… I thought I saw it mentioned somewhere here before, but I prefer a cleansing type of diet when I’m doing Tabata. Lots of vegetables, especially those leafy greens. I try to mix kale in with every meal. Lean meats are good. I make a lot of meals with quinoa. I use rice pasta. No fried foods, no sugar, no wheat or diary. I try to stay away from caffeine, but I do have lots of green tea if I need a change from water.

      With this type of diet combined with Tabata, you will see some awesome results faster than you think. And you’ll physically feel a lot more awake once you start getting all that sugary food out of your diet.

  • Meliana

    This might be off topic but that guy in the 2nd video with the Tabata music is so hot! I love seeing people workout with a passion, it makes me want to continue to work hard and reach my goal. I love the Tabata workout! Tabata to me is a form of high intensity interval training method that offers more health benefits than traditional cardiovascular exercise. My body has become so toned since starting this workout routine.

  • Antonia

    As a novice I think I will start off with the The 4 Minute Workout Tabata TM: The Official DVD (2013), mainly because I have just started working out, I don’t want to “over do it”. I find sometimes you need to take it slow, that way your body gradually builds more endurance.

    • Evelyn

      I’m just the opposite. When I start a new exercise routine I like to go hard core from the very beginning. If I start off without hesitation I find that I get stronger faster. For example, when I started doing push-ups, I could only do 6 the first day. Then I started doing it with a back pack on. Within a week I could do 14 push ups with weight on. I would have never known that this was possible if I didn’t push myself immediately.

  • Lisa Boyd

    I have never heard of the Tabata workout, but I am so intrigued. Mainly because I want to lose weight. I have been doing 90 minute hot yoga sessions. But I would love to do something for 30 minutes or less. You can workout in the morning and be on with your day!

  • Rick

    These make great early morning workouts before starting a workday, especially if you do not have time for a more complete workout!

  • Patty

    It seems, after all these years we are finding out that short intense training is actually the most beneficial. It is fascinating but it makes sense! Do you think we will continue seeing information on short intense workouts or will we cycle back into longer workouts like before?

  • Tim

    I have personally used the workouts on men’s health and they have worked very well!

  • Danielle

    It is a very intense training, you have to have been working out for a while to do it effectively, without hurting yourself.

    • Stacy

      It depends, I think if you just do not over push yourself this is a great way to start working out.

  • Marilee Beckett

    Tabata is great for promoting functional training for martial artists! I include 1-2 tabata weight lifting workouts every week…this technique has really helped me with increasing my muscle endurance!

    • Bradley

      Yes, Tabata really helps build explosiveness which translates great to any martial art.