Tabata is a popular form of high-intensity interval training (HIIT). If you’re looking for a quick yet intense, full body workout that will yield some serious results, then give this a shot.
I’m currently obsessing over this workout for a number of reasons, but most importantly its quick and effective, requires no equipment so it can be done virtually anywhere, and can be easily incorporated into your normal cardio routine to get greater results.
Tabata training was discovered by Japanese scientist Dr. Izumi Tabata and a team of researchers from the National Institute of Sports and Fitness in Tokyo. Tabata and his team conducted research on two groups of athletes – one that trained at a moderate intensity level and a second that trained at a high intensity level. What they found was that high-intensity interval training has a greater impact on both aerobic and anaerobic systems. Aerobic exercise (think light activity that you can sustain over long periods of time, i.e. jogging) increases your endurance and cardiac health while anaerobic exercise (think short duration, high-intensity activity, i.e. sprinting) will help you burn fat but also help you gain lean muscle mass.
What does it look like? High-intensity exercises completed at maximum intensity for 20 seconds, followed by 10 seconds rest for a total of 8 rounds. One set of Tabata = 4 minutes. Based on your fitness level, you can add to this format by incorporating traditional cardio (think a light jog) or rest in between multiple sets. The most important thing is to ensure you are able to give max intensity, if not you’re simply putting in extra work for little additional gain. Check out this article “The One Thing Most People Get Wrong in a HIIT Workout – and How to Fix It” for more information about just how long your HIIT workout should be.
How to build your workout:
Another thing I love about HIIT workouts is there are a variety of different exercises, allowing you to easily interchange them to keep things fresh.
30 minutes is a perfect duration for me – this allows for 3 sets of Tabata for a total of 12 minutes, with a light jog in between sets (9 min ea for a total of 18 minutes). I like to focus each Tabata set targeting a different group of muscles. Below is a breakdown of 3 Tabata Sets w sample exercises under each (pick max of 8 exercises per round, or repeat multiple rounds of the same exercise).