Tabata training is one of the most popular forms of high-intensity interval training (HIIT). It consists of eight rounds of ultra-high-intensity exercises in a specific 20-seconds-on, 10-seconds-off interval. It may only take four minutes to complete a Tabata circuit, but those four minutes may well push your body to its absolute limit.
Tabata training was born after Japanese scientist Izumi Tabata and his colleagues compared the results of moderate intensity training and HIIT.
Tabata training should be done with one movement. So, if you choose a movement like front squats, or thrusters, or burpees, you do it at absolute maximum intensity for 20 seconds, take a 10-second rest, then begin again. Part of what makes Tabata so difficult is performing four minutes of the same movement at kill-yourself intensity. If you’re not absolutely toast after those four minutes, you didn’t go hard enough.
Some people now vary the exercises during a session. It’s also popular to increase or decrease rounds and intensity. Although this variation may not technically count as Tabata Protocol, adding or subtracting rounds or changing movements every other round can be useful. (If you really want an insane full-body workout, try three rounds of Tabata!)
Either way, Tabata burns a lot of calories and provides a killer full-body anaerobic and aerobic workout. Tabata training also improves athletic performance, improves glucose metabolism, and acts as an excellent catalyst for fat burning. The Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) effect is off the charts for Tabata Training.
Tabata Training can be done with a number of different exercises. The idea is to use an exercise that gets the whole body involved, or at least the major muscle groups. It can be done with barbells, dumbells, kettlebells or just bodyweight exercises. If you want to add tabata to your weight workout, simply pick four barbell exercises that you can easily transition between. Perform the first exercise for as many reps as you can in 20 seconds, rest 10 seconds, then perform the second exercise as fast as possible for 20 seconds. Rest for 10 seconds, and repeat this process for the remaining exercises.
Here’s a sample of a four-exercise barbell Tabata complex (with each movement done twice):
BARBELL TABATA WORKOUT:
1. Reverse Lunges
2. Shoulder Press
3. Romanian Deadlifts
4. Back Squats
Once you’ve completed all four exercises you’re only half way done, because you’ll only be two minutes into the Tabata. Go back to the first exercise and repeat the entire complex again without ever dropping the bar.
Here’s a sample of a four-exercise dumbbell Tabata complex:
DUMBBELL TABATA WORKOUT:
1. Bicep Curls
2. Incline Flyes
3. Arnold Shoulder Press
4. Side Lateral Raise
* 20 seconds on each exercise with a 10 second rest in between x 2 sets
And for a fast, cardio shred try this workout:
CARDIO TABATA WORKOUT:
Sprinting – sprint for 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds x 8 times
Jump rope – jump for 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds x 8 times