What is Tabata?

TABATA, which is arguably the most popular High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workout of all-time, is a four minute workout consisting of eight intervals. Each interval lasts 20 seconds and is followed by 10 seconds of rest. Though any exercise movement can be used in Tabata interval training, a Tabata is only considered a “True Tabata” if the exercise is performed at an absolute maximum intensity for the entirety of the 8 intervals. 

Over recent years, Tabata has gained vast popularity throughout the fitness industry. A household name across domains such as CrossFit, Spinning, Running, and Fitness Bootcamps around the world, this research-base protocol has been scientifically proven to bring results!

The Tabata Study- (View Full Research Brief at https://tabatasongs.com/izumi-tabata/

In 1996 a researcher named Dr Izumi Tabata conducted a study at Ritsumeikan University in Japan that compared Short High-Intensity Anaerobic Workouts to Long Steady-State Aerobic Workouts. This study was the first of its kind, scientifically testing the benefits of intermittent anaerobic exercise, now known as High Intensity Interval Training (H.I.I.T.) in contrast with traditional steady-state cardiovascular aerobic exercise. This research brief explains the findings of the study, originally published in the Journal of Medicine in Science in Sports and Exercise

Dr Izumi Tabata
Key Findings and Implications:

  • High-intensity interval training (specifically 20 seconds exercise: 10 seconds rest for 4 minutes) will improve both aerobic and anaerobic systems simultaneously.
  • The four minute 20 second : 10 second protocol is the only proven method to train both aerobic capacity and vo2 max at the same time.
  • Until recently, research has not quantified or identified the benefits of high intensity interval training (HIIT) anaerobic activity.
  • Aerobic training does not change anaerobic capacity

Tabata intervals chart


High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has become a household term in the fitness world over recent years. With the rise in popularity of HIIT exercise programs in contrast with the dwindling interest in traditional steady-state exercise, there is a rising demand for research in the field. Using two study groups, the following research study puts HIIT and steady-state exercise to the test against each other, comparing and contrasting the scientifically recorded evidence of each approach. In particular, the study compares:

  1. 60 minutes of steady-state exercise   vs.
  2. 4 minutes of HIIT- 8 intervals of 20 seconds exercise: 10 seconds rest (Tabata protocol).

18-24 year old male college students majoring in physical education. Many participants were physically active and members of varsity athletic teams. After receiving detailed information of the purposes, benefits, and risks associated with this study, each student participant provided written consent.

“In general there were two types of exercises, low-intensity exercises for longer periods of time that improved endurance and exercises such as sprints that improve your ability to sprint, but have no effect on aerobics or endurance. In contrast, the Tabata Protocol draws on the advantages of each.” –Dr Izumi Tabata

View the Full Research Brief at https://tabatasongs.com/izumi-tabata/