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What Is Tabata – Everything You Need to Know and How to Do It

what is tabata

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Fitness is one of the hot goals out of our ‘To-Do-List’ when it comes to losing weight, increase flexibility, increase endurance, build muscle or stay fit. For that, we need to be consistent or stick to a specific routine according to our fitness goal while maintaining our daily workflow.

If you would like to give a break to your typical & hectic exercise routine, & not able to give enough time to the workout in the gym, you can give a try to Tabata workout routine at home for anyone of your fitness goal from losing weight to building muscles (of course not for the competition).

 What is Tabata?

Tabata Training is one of the forms of High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) which has become popular in recent years.

This is an exercise pattern which was described & tested by Japanese scientist Dr. Izumi Tabata (from the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo) in 1996. Later on, this pattern of the exercise was named on him i.e. Tabata.


How this study was conducted?

Tabata and his colleagues (1996) conducted a study that compared the workout results of two groups of individuals.

4 Minute Tabata Workout

The first group performed the continuous moderate-intensity workout at 70% of maximal oxygen consumption for 60 minutes,

The second group performed with HIIT workout at 170% of maximal oxygen consumption. This HIIT workout comprised of eight different exercises for 20-seconds followed by 10 seconds of rest for a total of 4 minutes of exercise.

This study revealed that HIIT improved aerobic capacity* (cardiovascular) of the second group to a similar degree as moderate-intensity continuous training, but also resulted in a 28% increase in anaerobic capacity (muscle) than the first group.

* Maximum amount of oxygen an individual can consume during an intense workout.


20 Minute Tabata Workout Study

Later on, Tabata training has evolved to include a variety of exercises performed in the 20 seconds high-intensity workout which is followed by 10 seconds of rest).

The objective of this study was to determine the relative exercise intensity and energy consumption of a Tabata workout.

Sixteen volunteers were taken (included 13 women and only 3 men) as a subject with provided written consent (as it was a continuous high intensive workout with intervals for 20 minutes).

Before taking a start, each subject performed a maximal exercise test on a treadmill to determine VO2max (a measurement of the maximum amount of oxygen uptake during intense workout) and maximal heart rate (HRmax) to the last 30 minutes.

Each volunteer completed two identical workouts.

Volunteers completed as many repetitions of each exercise as possible in 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds of rest & started the second exercise till the completion of a segment as listed below.

There was 1 minute of rest between each segment.  So, the total time taken was 20 minutes to complete these 4 segments.


Exercises included in the 20-minute Tabata workout.

what is tabata
Each exercise was repeated twice at a ratio of 20 sec exercise/10 sec rest

They chose to do the four segments of Tabata in succession.  During this intense workout, Heart rate of all volunteers was measured in each minute of exercise with ratings of perceived exertion (RPE) & Blood lactate was obtained at the end of each segment.

Resulted, Heart rate during the two Tabata workouts averaged 156 (86% of HRmax) and predicted VO2 averaged 34.8 (74% of VO2max).

These values are at the upper range suggested by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM, 2010) for improving cardiorespiratory endurance.

As a conclusion, Total energy expenditure ranged between 240 to 360 kcals for the 20-minute workout, which is knowingly higher than the expected 54 kcals expended during the 4 minutes of exercise.

The Study revealed, doing  20-minute Tabata session, which utilized multiple rounds of body-weight exercises, meets ACSM guidelines for improving cardiorespiratory endurance.

Tabata for beginners

If you wake up finally & buckle up for a regular exercise routine, then you have to start by performing only a Segment, which comprises of 8 sets of  4 exercises with a 20sec each followed by 10-sec rest for weekdays.

Although you can shuffle the exercises after a regular interval (as per the mentioned above in picture)

Also, you can read on HIIT Workout plan for beginners to get in shape

Tabata Exercises

Although, you can prefer doing a 4-minute session or 20 minutes session as per your fitness goal.  As far as different bodyweight exercises are concerned, you are free to choose any of exercise as per your choice as per the table mentioned above & perform as per the mentioned instructions. 

See, How this Japanese man goes fat to fit by doing 4-minute exercise a day

Here’re a few exercises you can give a try to start with.

Also, read how you can burn up to 450 calories by doing 30 minute Tabata workout plan


  • Improve cardiorespiratory endurance.
  • Weight Loss
  • Muscle Building
  • Increase strength
  • Increase Flexibility



This information is only for educational purposes, we prefer you to consult your physician/doctor before doing such high intensive exercises & prefer to go with your routine cardio check-up before attempting it & try only when your doctor allows you as per their recommendation.



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