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What Is Tabata Training?

From the Community: Everything You Need to Know About Tabata Training

FitSugar community member (and fitness instructor) livinginthin gives us a primer on Tabata training, a type of high-intensity interval workout.

You've probably heard the word Tabata by now (and if you haven't, you will!). So what exactly is this hot new fitness trend, and why you should care about it?

What is Tabata?

The term Tabata was coined after the Japanese researcher Dr. Izumi Tabata, who compared the effectiveness of short, very high-intensity training (bursts of maximal effort for 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds of recovery, repeated for four minutes in total) to a traditional 60-minute aerobic workout.

Who should do it?

Anyone looking to amp up their fitness level, maximize their cardio time, burn more calories, and blast off more fat in way less time. The key to a successful Tabata session is being able to hit the high levels of intensity (the participants in the Tabata study worked at 170 percent of their VO2 Max — that's killer!). If you are new to exercise, or returning after a long hiatus, you may want to progress slowly with trying a Tabata workout.

Learn more about Tabata, after the break!

How can I try it?

The Tabata protocol can be done with almost any method of exercise, so long as you can reach that maximum intensity point quickly (for example, it's tough to do Tabata on a treadmill because the machine takes a while to adjust up and down and your intervals are so quick). Some great moves to try Tabata with include squat jumps, burpees, jumping rope, or mountain climbers. Repeat pushing yourself as hard as you can for 20 seconds, then allow yourself 10 seconds of rest. Try to do this for four minutes straight.


Everyone's maximum effort feels different — and the more fit you are, the harder you will have to work to reach it. Be sure to listen to your body, stay hydrated before and after, and stop anytime you feel like the intensity is just too much. The great thing about it is that it may be tough, but at least it's short-lived!

And one of the biggest challenges with Tabata training (besides the fact that you will be working so hard you'll want to throw up) can be timing it! If you don't want to worry about having to fumble with a timer or think about which exercises to do during your Tabata session, check out this Tabata Coach mix album on iTunes created by MotionTraxx. You'll be coached through every second of your Tabata workout so you can concentrate on what is most important — pushing yourself to your absolute limits during your intervals. (And if you get tired of the coaching after repeat workouts, there is also a music-only option that includes just your timer cues).

For more tips and workout info, check out the 10 Pounds Down! group in the FitSugar Community!

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