What’s Tabata?

April 20, 2022

Tabata is a form of strength training, first introduced by Japanese scientist Izumi Tabata PhD in 1996.

It is essentially a type of short, high-intensity circuit training which keeps your heart rate elevated. 

Typically, it consists of 20 second work intervals with 10 second rests in between, and a ‘round’ lasts for a period of 4 minutes. You repeat the cycle of rounds several times to give yourself a 20- to 30-minute total workout period.

If it sounds to you like Tabata is High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), that’s because it is – sort of. 

The main difference is the fact that Tabata involves more specific interval timing and shorter recovery periods. The intensity is also what I’d refer to as ‘another level’, even from the already-challenging level of traditional HIIT.

What does it involve?

Just like in conventional HIIT sessions, Tabata workouts can include: -

To be honest, it’s more about the timing, intensity and shorter rest ratio than the actual exercise you do so there is plenty of scope for personalisation. 

Who is it for?

Tabata is ideal for those who want to max out on their workout despite having only a short time to exercise. It provides the whole gamut of muscular and cardiovascular benefits in a condensed session, but it certainly is not for the feint-hearted and many clients I have worked with find it unpleasant to the point that they are put off! 

Despite the high level of effort and difficulty, Tabata (and HIIT in general) is particularly well suited to those within older age groups. Various studies have shown that the most significant improvements tend to be made by those over 65 – perhaps because this form of high intensity training promotes new muscle growth and can therefore offset age-related muscle loss.

What can it do for me?

If you do choose to get with the Tabata programme, there are a huge number of advantages to be gained, including: -

  • a boost in metabolism
  • an increase in aerobic and anaerobic fitness levels
  • an increase in lean muscle mass
  • an increase in heart rate
  • an improvement in cardiorespiratory endurance
  • a higher-than-normal calorie burn

If Tabata is something you think might be for you then I say give it a try. The ‘express’ nature of this particular method of working out is probably one of its most appealing features, but I always point out to my clients that it really is an endurance activity, and your 20 minute session may leave you more exhausted than you ever thought possible.

Feel like you’d like to know more before you take the Tabata plunge? Just get in touch and I can walk you through the process, allowing you to start safely and proceed with the greatest chance of success.