Movement Maven: Tabata Training
Updated: Oct 27
There is a ton of research out there stating how positively impactful high-intensity interval training (H.I.I.T.) is for the human body and how it needs to be implemented into your workouts to improve your fat-burning efficiency, burn more calories, etc. Awesome.
There is a slew of different ways that you can include HIIT into your fitness programming but one that I want to dedicate a little more attention to is Tabata training.
Tabata training is one of the most popular forms of HIIT and consists of eight rounds of REALLY high-intensity exercise in specific 20-seconds-on, 10-seconds-off intervals. So yes, it will only take four minutes to complete a full Tabata circuit, but those four minutes may well push your body and mind well past or at least to its limit.
Named after Japanese scientist Izumi Tabata, he and his exercise training colleagues compared the results of moderate-intensity training and HIIT through a study evaluating two groups of speed-skating athletes. The first group trained on ergonomic cycles at moderate intensity for one hour, five days per week, for a total of six weeks.
The second group completed four-minute, high-intensity workouts on ergonomic cycles four days per week for a total of six weeks. The second group completed its four minutes of work by doing eight intervals of all-out training and then resting 10 seconds.
The results concluded that the athletes who performed high-intensity training (group 2) saw increases in both aerobic and anaerobic metabolic systems capacities; whereas the moderate-intensity group (group 1) did not improve anaerobic performance. The Tabata training method was formed by modeling workouts after the second group.
Anaerobic performance is important to consider, especially if you are an athlete, as this is where you will spend a lot of your time actually competing. If you never train at this intensity, you will not develop the mental and physical capabilities to handle the intensity of it for longer periods of time and your competition will surely get the best of you. This is about training harder AND smarter.
Also, your energy systems need to be trained in this area to maximize your metabolic efficiency during and after exercise in order to maximize how much fat and oxygen you are burning vs. carbohydrates (sugar) and C02. The human body doesn’t work very efficiently burning up carbohydrates for long periods of time as there is a limited amount that has to constantly be replenished.
So what kinds of exercise can you do Tabata training with?
Virtually any form of cardiovascular exercise such as running, incline walking, running or walking up steps or using a stair mill, sprinting, rebounding on a mini trampoline, swimming, jump rope, rowing, etc.
Weight training exercises that use multiple joints (compound movements) in the movement itself such as bench press, deadlifts, squats, or kettlebell swings which are my fave.
I will often have clients use bodyweight-based movements such as burpees, jumps squats, or other plyometric types of movements to complete their Tabata workouts so they can 1) stay in touch with jumping movements 2) not be dependent on a gym or weights to complete the workout 3) get a combination of cardiovascular and resistance training into their Tabata for the day
Below are 3 videos of exercises that you can use to perform 3 separate Tabata training workouts with and check out my Free Resources page to get more Tabata workouts and a tracking sheet:
Squat to Continuous Cable Row
Let me know how your body and mind respond to Tabata training!