Tabata (pronounced like ciabatta, the sandwich), is an incredibly effective and time-efficient workout protocol that can be implemented just about anywhere. If you’re traveling, short on time, working out from home, or stuck in a small square space for an extended period of time – the tabata workout is your new secret weapon.
Tabata workouts provide the biggest bang for your buck because they include maximum efforts, and short rest periods. Typically, a tabata workout includes eight rounds of :20 seconds all-out, followed by :10-seconds rest. Although the entire session is only four minutes long, it can provide notable improvements in fitness and metabolic health.
Tabata intervals were created by Dr. Izumi Tabata, a Japanese physician and researcher. He conducted a study that compared moderate-intensity endurance exercise with his 20/10 high-intensity protocol over a 6-week period. The moderate-intensity group included 1,800 minutes of training, whereas the 20/10 group included 120 minutes. Despite the significant difference in training time, the tabata group improved both aerobic and anaerobic capacity, while the endurance group only showed improvements in aerobic fitness.
Now, this doesn’t mean moderate-intensity endurance efforts are useless, or that tabata training is the miracle drug that will solve all your problems. It simply means it’s a powerful and effective tool to add to your fitness regime – especially when circumstances arise that aren’t conducive to maintaining your normal fitness routine.
Because of the intensity level, it’s best to engage with tabata workouts when you have previous experience implementing maximum efforts. Tabata workouts take discipline, body awareness, and mental focus – because let me tell you, that :10 rest feels LIKE NOTHING. If you’re new to all-out efforts, simply pace yourself, or follow the “Newbie to the Workout Scene” instructions below.
Tabata workouts are best implemented using low-impact continuous exercises like rowing or biking, or functional body movements like air squats or burpees. The options are endless, and you are only limited by your creativity.
If you’re interested in throwing in some weighted movements, I recommend securing a good set of kettlebells so you can tabata movements like the kettlebell swing or goblet squat. You can also use a medicine ball or stability ball for some killer core exercises.
Tabata Total Body Workout
Instructions: For each exercise, you’ll do 8 rounds of going :20 all-out, followed by :10 rest. Each exercise will take 4 minutes total to complete. After each exercise, rest 2 minutes before moving on to the next exercise.
Warm up: Perform at least 10 minutes of Dynamic Range of Motion movement. Then, do 3-5 repetitions of each exercise below.
Tabata each exercise below (8 rounds of :20 all-out, :10 seconds off). Rest 2 minutes between each exercise.
Cool down: Stretch and foam roll.
Beginner? Start here!
Instructions: For each exercise, perform 2-4 intervals of :20 seconds at a comfortably hard pace, followed by :10 seconds rest. Rest 2 minutes after each exercise.