Tabata: Should You Try This Exercise Approach?
Tabata training is a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workout, centered around exercises that last four minutes.
I love physical activity. Let me walk briskly, and I find joy. Please put me on my treadmill with an IFit trainer, and I am off exploring the world. Whether you are after flexibility, strength, or aerobic conditioning, today’s post is for you. There are many training methods out there to help you reach your goals, but our focus is on a Japanese technique. Today we explore Tabata training.
Do you need a novel program to spice up your exercise routine? Tabata may be worth a look. It is a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workout and features exercises that are four minutes in duration. But first, we turn to the man who developed the technique.
Tabata’s Japanese origins
Born in 1956, Izumi Tabata (田畑 泉, Tabata Izumi) is the dean at Ritsumeikan University Graduate School of Sport and Health Science. The school is in the lovely city of Kyoto, where my daughter attended a competitor, Doshisha University.
The dean is associated with the Tabata Protocol, the exercise regimen that is our focus today. With humility, he indicates that Japanese Olympic speed skating coach Koichi Irisawa came up with the idea. Of note, Tabata worked at the National Institute for Health and Nutrition in Japan and the Japanese speed skating team.
Moderate versus high-intensity training
Tabata and colleagues examined two groups of athletes:
- Group #1: Moderate-intensity training, five days per week for a total of six weeks. Each work-out lasted one hour.
- Group #2: High-intensity training, four days per week for six weeks. Each work-out lasted four minutes and 20 seconds (with 10 seconds of rest between the sets).
Here are the results:
- Group #1 (moderate-intensity training): Increased aerobic (cardiovascular) performance, but virtually no gain in the anaerobic system (muscle).
- Group #2 (high-intensity training): Greater increased in the aerobic system, compared with Group #1, improved anaerobic system by 28 percent.
High-intensity interval training appears to provide more benefits on both aerobic and anaerobic systems than moderate-intensity exercise. Now let’s get more practical.
Tabata is a form of high-intensity interval training or HIIT. Getting more granular:
Tabata is a four-minute workout consisting of eight rounds of 20 seconds of work at maximum effort, followed by 10 seconds of rest. Deviate from this, and it’s not Tabata.
I like HIIT workouts. They help me with burning fat and building muscle. The Tabata approach is more rigid than many HIIT approaches, with Tabata specifying what time intervals are appropriate. Still, both can help you to burn fat and improve your speed and endurance.
You can get these benefits by focusing on maximum effort over short periods, with only short breaks for resting. For many, weight loss is an added benefit. The non-Tabata HIIT approach allows for more flexibility. You may choose to lengthen your “exercise on” sections, particularly for more complex movements that do not easily fit inside a 20-second Tabata period.
If you have four minutes, you have time for Tabata. Get creative with your workouts, and reap the benefits.
Let me leave you with some links to Tabata workouts:
30-Minute Bodyweight Tabata Workout
Studies show that bodyweight exercises can yield maximum results with minimal investment. Machines, free weights and…
20-Minute Tabata Core Workout
Whether you're referring to a planet, fruit or human anatomy, the core is a vital, central component. Definitions of…
11 Butt-Kicking Tabata Exercises
After 10 seconds, I was gasping for breath, sweaty, and definitely convinced that four minutes of Tabata intervals…
I’m Dr. Michael Hunter. I have enjoyed exploring some Tabata programs. If you do too, please let me know what you think. Thank you for joining me today.