July 18, 2021

What is tabata training? Take advantage of this amazing training method

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What is tabata training? Take advantage of this amazing training method
Cory McKane
Blog Post Summary:

Whether you’ve been living a healthy lifestyle or just starting to work out, Tabata training is one way to workout that you may want to check out.

What is Tabata Training?

Tabata training is one of the High-Intensity Interval Training or HIIT workouts you may want to check out. Whether you’ve been living a healthy and fitness-driven lifestyle or just starting, this might work effectively for you.  

The Overview: What is Tabata Training?

With such a unique name, it might leave you wondering what kind of training Tabata training exactly is. As previously mentioned, it is considered a HIIT workout and is a type of circuit that you can do in four minutes. It also goes by the name Tabata Protocol. 

The recipe for High-Intensity Interval Training workouts includes vigorous exercises in short periods. Then, alternating between these movements are short stages of less intense recovery time. If it’s your first time doing HIIT, you can expect that it will push you to your limits. 

Tabata, specifically, has eight rounds of 20-second intervals of profound exercises and 10-second breaks to rest between each exercise. Through Tabata, you can achieve your fitness goals at a much faster rate. This type of training will help you burn more calories, even after working out, and improve your endurance. 


In 1996, Dr. Izumi Tabata of the Ritsumeikan University Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences in Japan conducted a study that dove around training. He wanted to know if the Japanese speed skating athletes would perform better over time after a four-minute training format.

Dr. Tabata had his subjects take a 4-minute high-intense workout on a stationary bike to test his hypothesis. Meanwhile, the other test group had an even higher intensity workout in a lesser time but with an added 2-minute rest. 

What he found after the experiment is that the group which took the 4-minute workout developed a much higher VO2 max. This translated to better use of oxygen during physical activities and better performance in-game (or in-competition) for the skaters.    

What is Tabata Training For?

Though the initial research on Tabata Training targets an athlete's performance, the body’s energy systems will also receive great benefits from this type of training. There are two energy systems that your body utilizes, namely, aerobic and anaerobic. 

The aerobic system uses oxygen to make energy currencies, called the Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) that your body will use. In the context of exercising, it allows you to do low to moderately intense workouts.

But, if you are constantly moving at a highly-intense pace, oxygen may not travel to your muscles fast enough. Here is where the anaerobic energy system does its work. It produces ATP without needing to use oxygen. The downside is that it will make your muscles tire faster.

Tabata training can improve both your aerobic and anaerobic energy systems. You will have better VO2 max, which you can use in any form of physical activity, low to high intensity.

Weight Loss

What if, instead of endurance, you are looking to lose weight at a much faster rate? Tabata training can find you through the best route to your destination as long as you're up to the challenge.

With its high-intensity exercises, you will discover an improved glucose metabolism and an improved heart rate. And, since your body is in the anaerobic zone, it tends to burn more calories during and after your workout. With few calories to get rid of, your body will then resort to using stored fats for energy. 

For Beginners

Tabata training might seem a little hard for HIIT beginners due to its four-minute duration and intensity. But, there are ways you can stick to your Tabata routine without compromising your form and balance. 

For example, you can do simpler exercises during the 20-second high-intensity intervals. Some of which include high knees, jumping jacks, pushups, and light-weight dumbbell thrusters (squat to press).

What are the Benefits of Tabata Training?

There are many benefits to incorporating Tabata training in your health and fitness routine. Besides improving your energy systems and help with weight management, here are the others:


Having no time to exercise is a typical excuse you might hear. But, with Tabata’s four-minute routine, it will be easy to squeeze it into tight schedules. Then, on not-so-busy days, you can try other HIIT workouts to go along with your Tabata.

Maintain Muscle Tissues

When trying to lose weight, some might choose dieting alone. Although this method can help burn body fats, less protein intake may cause muscle tissue loss. Partnering diet with exercise can keep your muscles in constant use, which also maintains your muscle tissues. 

Other cardio workouts that take longer intervals might damage or strain muscle tissues. The good thing about the Tabata workout is that it helps develop muscle tissues instead of damaging them.

How To Do Tabata Training?

If you’re looking to do Tabata training by yourself, here’s a step-by-step guide for you. However, if you're looking for a personal trainer to help you with your training, especially tabata, you can find a trainer on our WeStrive Marketplace.

1. Warm-Up

Make sure to perform at least five minutes of stretching & warming up before your tabata training. It will help your body get ready for the training you're about to do so you can avoid injuries. 

2. Memorize the Routine 

It is important to go through the four-minute circuit without stopping (except during the rest time of course). Tabata training is a 20-second exercise, followed by 10-second rest for eight rounds. 

At this point, you can use simple exercises to memorize the workout pattern easily. Make sure to use timers that you can see without you needing to stop mid-circuit.

Here's an example of a tabata routine:

  • Push-ups for 20 seconds
  • 10 Seconds of rest
  • Squat Jacks for 20 seconds
  • 10 seconds of rest
  • Repeat the above circuit 7 more times

3. Add More Exercises

Once you get comfortable with the entire drill, you can add more exercises to the simple ones you initially tried. Just make sure to remember these new movements as well. 

It’s really up to you which exercises you want to do or if you want different actions each round. You can have four exercises and repeat those throughout the entire circuit. Similarly, you can even pick eight different exercises for each round & just do fewer rounds. 

Here are some more fun ones to throw in:

4. Have Fun With Some Props

You can have more fun doing your routine with some equipment. Select the ones that you won’t scramble to pick up or distract you from your timing. You can try some of these:

  • Medicine balls
  • Jump ropes
  • Kettlebells
  • Dumbbells

As long as you can keep your focus on the circuit, you can be creative as you want in choosing your exercise equipment.


Tabata training makes an excellent HIIT workout choice for many reasons. Overall, it can improve your energy systems, help with weight management, easily fit into your schedule, and help provide you with a more productive lifestyle.

When are you going to try your first Tabata workout? Why not now?

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About the Author:

Cory McKane is the CEO/Founder of WeStrive - a platform for personal trainers to manage & grow their personal training business. He enjoys working out and spending time working with trainers on WeStrive on how to manage/grow their business.











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Written by
Cory McKane
CEO | WeStrive
Huge fan of fitness - Even bigger fan of helping you with your fitness. I've been building up the WeStrive platform for over 5 years and I'm excited to keep building out the greatest Health & Wellness platform on Earth.

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What is tabata training? Take advantage of this amazing training method