Top Ten Reasons to do TABATA

TABATA- 4 Minute Interval Workout Training Protocol
20 Seconds Work- 10 Seconds Rest x8.

Over recent years, Tabata has become a household name in the fitness industry. Whether you are into CrossFit, Spinning, running, cycling, home workouts, or other various fitness bootcamps, you have likely heard of High Intensity Interval Training (H.I.I.T.). Certainly the most famous HIIT protocol is none other than TABATA. Here are ten reasons why…

Tabata Songs Abs1. Scientifically Proven-
In 1996 Dr Izumi Tabata set up an experiment to test the aerobic and anaerobic benefits of a specific interval protocol- 20 seconds of high intensity output followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeated for 8 intervals. He compared a group of athletes who performed this method for 6 weeks to another group who performed 60 minutes of slow steady-state exercise for 6 weeks.

Long story short, Dr Tabata found the interval protocol to significantly improve both the aerobic and anaerobic systems simultaneously. Previously this had never been tested. Traditionally, it had been thought that the two must be trained separately. Dr. Tabata’s protocol, now famously known as the Tabata Protocol, sparked a drastic change in the fitness world, spurring the start of High Intensity Interval Training.

If you are doing Tabatas, rest easy (for ten seconds at a time!) knowing that your work has been scientifically proven to increase your fitness level! 

2. Increased Metabolism (Tabata Afterburn Effect on Fat)-
When you perform a “True” Tabata (100% effort for all 8 intervals), your body creates what is called an Oxygen Debt. Essentially, your energy system taps into oxygen reserves that are stored inside your muscles, borrowing that oxygen for a final boost of energy. Quite literally, you are “emptying the tank”. As your body recovers, it must repay this borrowed oxygen to your muscles. This puts the body in a heightened metabolic state for hours, as it works hard to recover.

It is helpful to understand how your body’s energy systems work- When you perform steady-state exercise (walking, running, biking at a constant slow/moderate pace), your lungs collect a steady supply of oxygen, which is used to constantly fuel your muscles. This is your aerobic (with air) system.

If you increase your speed or intensity enough, you will hit a point when your lungs are no longer able to process oxygen at a fast enough rate. This is when you’re anaerobic (without air) system kicks in. The anaerobic system “borrows” stored energy from your muscles… owing oxygen back to those muscles in order for them to recover. This “borrowed debt” of oxygen is called Oxygen Debt. The more energy that is borrowed, the more Oxygen Debt there is.

How does this affect the metabolism and fat loss? Put it this way… When you spend 30 minutes on a cardio machine at a traditional “fat burning pace” (120-135bpm depending on age), you burn some fat for, well, 30 minutes. However, if you exercise at an intensity level that creates an oxygen debt, you will raise your metabolism for the rest of the day as your body is in recovery mode, burning fat for far more than 30 minutes.

Mat Fraser CrossFit3. Tabata Anywhere!
Whether you are using Tabata as a finisher after a grueling workout, knocking out a quick lunchtime set of Tabata pushups, or stringing a few floor exercises together in your hotel room while traveling, this method will benefit your level of fitness!

4. Modify-
No matter what your physical ability, you can modify movements to your own capability. Whether you are doing sprints, pushups, planks, or simply sitting down and standing up repeatedly for 20 seconds at a time, there is a movement for you.

5. Set Benchmarks to Track Improvement-
Instead of tracking your bodyweight, you might find it to be more motivating and fun to track your ability and improved performance instead. People tend to get too wrapped up in what they weigh, overlooking their actual fitness level.

Tabatas make it super easy to track your fitness level and improvements. For instance, lets say your goal is to do as many total burpees as you possibly can do over the course of the 8 intervals. And let’s say you successfully knock out 45 burpees your first time. Write it down, and shoot for no less than 46 next time. Do it again and again. Your fitness WILL improve. Give it a try.

You can pretty much do this with anything…

Tabata for distance with running, cycling, or rowing. For reps with pushups, sit ups, jumping jacks, air squats, you name it.

6. It’s Only Four Minutes!
Don’t have time to workout? We get it. Life gets crazy! Look, we all have busy lives. But how many minutes each day do we spend mindlessly looking at friends’ Facebook photos of what they ate last night? Or watching a video somebody sent to you of a dog doing backflips? Count up those mindless minutes tomorrow, we guarantee you break 4 minutes!

7. No Equipment Needed
What do you need to get started?

Do you have a body? check. Are you surrounded by some gravity? check. You are good to go!

While you can certainly utilize anything from dumbbells to kettlebells, barbells to pullup bars, treadmills to ellipticals, jump-ropes to….you get the picture… you don’t actually NEED anything at all.

TabataRest8. Target Goals-
What are your current fitness goals? If you are like most of us, you probably would like to burn some fat while adding some muscle. Or perhaps you are looking to get stronger, faster, or are looking to improve your endurance or increase your VO2max. Whatever your goal or goals may be, you can find a use for Tabata. See the sample workouts below

Burn Fat: Pick an exercise that will get you completely out of breath when you go all out. Sprinting on foot or bike, jump squats, jump roping, burpees. You can even sprint in place… we guarantee you get out of breath! By going all-out you, you will create what is called an oxygen debt. 

(Sample: Sprint as fast as you possibly can for 8 Tabata intervals).

Strength: Choose 4 resistance-based exercises that you can barely rep for 20 seconds… think weighted squats, curls, presses, extensions, etc. Perform 20 seconds of each of the 4 exercises. Then repeat! (Sample: Upright row, bench press, deadlift, squat, repeat)

Endurance: Trying to build up to running? Try jogging for 20 seconds at a time with 10 seconds rest between. Looking to build muscle endurance? Choose an exercise, or multiple exercises, of low-to-medium intensity. Something that won’t get you completely and immediately out of breath. Think planks, wall sits, lunges, etc. How many sets of Tabata can you complete before you crack!? (Sample: hold an elbow plank for 20 seconds at a time with 10 seconds rest for as long as you possible can).

VO2max: The original TABATA study proved that cycling at top speed for 8 of these intervals does effectively increase an athlete’s VO2max. So hop on the bike, or choose an exercise that will completely tax your muscles and your lungs. (Sample: Sprinting on bike or on foot).

9. Music and Timers-
There are a wide array of timers, apps, and music for Tabata training. offers music that coaches the listener through the workout, prompting when to GO and STOP. This eliminates the need to look at a clock or turn music down so that you can hear a timer.

10. You can do anything for 20 seconds at a time!!!

Tabata intervals chart