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Fit Fitness Into Any Busy Schedule With Tabata

Do you have a busy schedule that doesn't leave much extra time? Are you a busy parent that barely has a minute to yourself? Tabata might be your solution.

What is Tabata?

Tabata is high-intensity interval training that is scientifically proven to burn calories faster and can be done in as little as twenty minutes. It focuses on eight rounds including twenty seconds of work and a ten-second rest. Each Tabata round is four minutes long and includes a one minute break following each round. Participants strive for complete exertion during each round.

Tabata Creator & Initial Experiment

The Tabata Protocol was credited to Izumi Tabata, who is the Dean of Ritsumeikan University Graduate School of Sport and Health Science in Japan. In Tabata's original research, his team focused on two experiments centered on measuring VO2 max while using a mechanically braked cycle ergometer. Tabata compared moderate-intensity training and high-intensity interval training, which we call Tabata today. The results showed a dramatic increase in both aerobic and anaerobic energy supply systems using the Tabata protocol.

Benefits of Tabata

Quick and Versatile

Since participants work at a high intensity, the duration of this workout is much shorter than steady-state cardio. With each round only consisting of four minutes, three to five rounds are effective in delivering serious results.

No gym or equipment required for this calorie-scorching exercise session. This workout can be executed from anywhere. There are plenty of Tabata timer apps available for download and music with built-in timers in case you would prefer not to watch a clock or count in your head.

9X Caloric Afterburn

When compared to an hour of steady-state cardio, only twenty minutes of Tabata delivers 9X the caloric afterburn. In clinical studies, calories were burned at a higher rate up to twelve hours after exercise ceased.

Unlimited Options

Each Tabata session can be unique due to the unlimited options available. If following the true Tabata Protocol, the moves are exclusively cardio. They can be designed with specific goals in mind. A sprinter's workout might look completely different than someone focused on increasing their vertical jump.

Exercise Variations

As a Tabata Bootcamp Certified Instructor, I love the fact that I can differentiate each class to keep it fresh and challenging. Here are a few of my cardio favorites:

  • jumping rope

  • quick feet

  • skier jumps

  • mountain climbers

  • jumping jacks

  • sprints

Ready to try Tabata for yourself? Check out my 15-minute Tabata workout.


Tabata performed the way that Izumi Tabata envisioned is not for the faint of heart and therefore modifications might need to be made to be successful at first. When beginning a Tabata program, it is alright to add strength options into your intervals as long as tempo and form are kept in check. Start with only one Tabata round and as your fitness level increases, you can add additional rounds or increase your intensity. Always listen to your body and consult your doctor before starting any new exercise routine.

Tabata I, Nishimura K, Kouzaki M, et al. Effects of moderate-intensity endurance and high-intensity intermittent training on anaerobic capacity and VO2max. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1996;28(10):1327-1330. doi:10.1097/00005768-199610000-00018

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