What is Tabata Training?

Tabata training is a form of high-intensity interval training (HIIT). However, the structure is somewhat different to a traditional, circuit-oriented HIIT workout. The structure of a Tabata workout is as follows: you perform a specific exercise for 20 seconds at maximum intensity, followed by a 10 second rest; this is repeated 8 times, bringing the total time spent on this exercise to 4 minutes. After you take 1-minute rest, perform a different exercise in the same style as before. You can do as many exercises as you want, although doing 4 exercises takes the total time up to about 20 mins, which is ideal for a HIIT workout.

An example Tabata workout could be as follows:

Mountain climbers – 20 secs work / 10 secs rest x 8

1 min rest

Starjumps – 20 secs work / 10 secs rest x 8

1 min rest

Pilates 100 – 20 secs work / 10 secs rest x 8

1 min rest

High knees – 20 secs work / 10 secs rest x 8




Which exercises work best?

The best exercises for Tabata are ones that both work your cardiovascular system and are quick to perform, allowing you to perform lots of reps in the short 20 second work period. For example, an exercise such as box jumps is not particularly suitable for Tabata, since too much time would be spent stepping down from the box, which wastes time.

An exercise such as mountain climbers works much better since you can work at maximum intensity for the full 20 seconds.

image of a woman doing Tabata traininig


Why would you do it?

Just like other forms of HIIT workouts, Tabata (when performed correctly and at a high intensity) can bring about many health benefits, such as improved cardiovascular fitness. The main benefit, however, is that HIIT workouts can burn many calories in a short amount of time.


What are some common mistakes made while doing Tabata training?

The main mistake that people make when performing Tabata is not working to a high enough intensity. Since the 20 second work period is relatively short, it is important to work at maximum effort for all of those 20 seconds. If you spend 5 seconds reaching maximum intensity, and another 5 seconds slowing down before your rest, then you are cutting your work period down to only 10 seconds, which is simply not enough to have any major benefits. Also, just like any form of training, proper form is needed to avoid injury.


Written by JOSH LAW