What is Tabata? 5 Reasons Why Trainers Are Obsessed With It

Dr. Izumi Tabata’s high intensity interval training (HIIT) protocol calls for just 20 seconds of all-out drop-deadeffort, followed by a mere 10 seconds of rest. This intense cycle is repeated eight times, for a total of four minutes.  Think 20 seconds work, 10 seconds rest, which is one rep, and you have eight reps to do!

The great thing about Tabata is that you can do pretty much any exercise you wish. You can do squats, push-ups, rows, lunges, etc. I recommend choosing six different styles of exercise ranging from cardio to weightlifting, with each having to total a four-minute Tabata workout, with a minute of rest in between.

Focusing on form is particularly important as it can easily fall apart when you are feeling exhausted.

This formula is a recipe for success because it:

1. Burns more calories the rest of the day.

For years, we’ve been focusing on calories burned during exercise, but new research reveals that we should also focus on what happens after exercise is complete. Tabata workouts are short in duration, but very intense, and designed to boost post-exercise caloric burn so your metabolism keeps burning more calories long after the exercise is over.

2.  Maximizes your workouts in less time.

You only have to do a total of six sets of four minutes for whatever exercise you want to work on and you will be completely exhausted. This means that the total workout will only be 30 min, provided you don’t have more than a minute break in between each movement. It’s an absolutely gut-busting, killer workout in under 30 min!

According to the Japanese founder, Professor Izumi Tabata, one of his four-minute sessions is equal to an hour of jogging, an hour of moderate cycling, two hours of walking, an hour of Zumba, or two hours of yoga.

3. Keeps things interesting and intense.

Since this exercise strategy is more of a formula than a specific workout, the possibilities for variety with Tabata are endless. If you love cardio then put the treadmill up to speed 10 and an incline of three to eight (depending on your fitness level). Do your sprints and when you rest for the 10 seconds just stand on the sides of the treadmill to recover. And if you prefer plyometric movements, body weight exercises, or lifting weights, you can incorporate them all into your Tabata routine. It’s easy!

4. Shows that the ideal form of exercise is short bursts of high-intensity exercise. 

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) gives a natural boost to human growth hormone (HGH) production, which is essential for increasing lean muscle and reducing body fat, promoting optimal health, strength, and vigor, and has been shown to significantly improve insulin sensitivity (which also effects fat loss, and increases lean muscle growth). Sign me up for some of that!

5. Is like having a personal trainer but it’s YOU pushing YOU to your max.

There’s no time for slacking off or wandering around the gym looking for your next set of reps. You have one exercise that you repeat until you exhaust the muscle. Also make sure to download the Tabata app so you don’t have to worry about timing yourself. This way you can just put your music on and listen for the bell. I find I can easily get in the zone and put all my energy and focus into getting the exercise done properly.   Push yourself and good luck!

Photo Credit: Lauren Berlingeri