Welcome to your complete guide to the Tabata Method. We are a new site focussed on everything associated with the interval training method known as the Tabata Protocol and often called the Four Minute Workout.
This site came about from a conversation with one of my training buddies who is a big runner, triathelete and one of the fittest 58 year olds I know. He mentioned that he was going to a tabata class, and being a fitness enthusiast or some might say nutter I was disappointed that I had not heard of this technique first…and so I started digging to find out more about Tabata Training.
I found out it has a huge following, and it is a quick and killer workout. It is a form of High Intensity Interval Training sometimes referred to with the its acronym HIIT. We have more detailed information on high intensity training and interval training on the site which includes the history and alternative workouts. You could ask the question why do we need another form of training but the “quick” workout is always the goal it seems to iet the most out of your exercise regime in the least amount of time and in this case approximately 4 minutes. So if you are short of time and want a fast way to get seriously fit or want to spice up your training with an extreme endorphine hit like no other then you are at the right place…hope you enjoy! Be warned this workout is not for the faint hearted!
The aim of the site is to cover mainly the Tabata method but the more we have gone into this HIIT protocol it is apparent that to get the most of the workout it is important to compare and contrast with other methods to decide what is best for you. Also to give you all the alternative workouts using the tabata method as well as the main reasons for following this protocol and the different methods.
Tabata in a nutshell
In a nutshell and in its most basic form the Tabata Method is 20 seconds of hard training followed by 10 seconds of rest repeated 8 times. Hence the alternative name of the 4 minute workout (8 x 20 seconds effort + 8 x 10 second rest = 4 minutes). We have a comprehensive guide to the Tabata Protocol as well as information about the tabata timer. The workout was originally tested on speed skaters using stationary bikes as the cross training method to test this HIIT protocol using the tabata timer regime of 8 sets of 20 seconds of high intensity with the 10 second low intensity between each set. What sets this workout apart is the intensity of each set which has to be as hard as you can! If you are not absolutely exhausted after the workout you didn’t go hard enough! The Excess Post Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) is also impressive for this workout method but more about this later in the site in one of our posts.
Although modern fitness sessions are performed on the treadmill, around a running track or even with weights using for example kettlebells or your body weight. Strictly speaking the weights have not really been tested as true tabata training method but we have included it in the site for completeness and tried to look for scientific evidence for the effectiveness of this modified workouts.
It is a bit of a strange name?
The name comes from the original author of the study around this interval training method called Izumi Tabata. His paper was published in 1996 and so has been around for 17 years but is seeing a lot of renewed interest. The key reference are given at the end of this page but if you want to know a bit more about the history of tabata training have a look here.
Aerobic, Anaerobic and Cardiovascular Training
The original study showed that the high intensity interval training benefited both the anaerobic and aerobic energy systems. In fact the VO2 max, which is the measure of the maximum oxygen consumption, increased by 14% and the anaerobic capacity increased by around 28%. The control group for the original experiment performed moderate intensity cardiovascular sessions on the stationary bike which lasted for an hour and repeated 5 times a week. The “Tabata” group performed the high intensity 4 minute sessions four times a week over a period of 6 weeks.
Although this “4 minute workout” does sound like the perfect form of workout, but we do not believe this is the panacea of training and so have tried to get all of the data together in one place so that you can make an informed decision whether this is right for you and how you might incorporate into your fitness regime, or for your general weight loss strategy. Or in fact you could use the method to just add to your existing training to switch it up and make a change.
Now if you are new to this method and would like to know more we will have posts for those just starting and also for those more experienced that want the most up-to-date information and research. Including the other training techniques which are of high intensity and form part of different interval workouts such as P90x, Cross fit, Turbulence Training and many other modern alternatives which are designed to increase the heart rate to near maximal intensity over short periods to give the maximum effect in the shortest time. We have also included posts about the history of the interval methods and how it has evolved over the last two decades and has caught the imagination of people with less time and wanting to get the maximum benefits from their cardio workouts.
The two key references for the original method are given below and more are given in the science sections for the different regimes and HIIT workout methods.
1. Metabolic profile of high intensity intermittent exercises. Tabata I, Irisawa K, Kouzaki M, Nishimura K, Ogita F, Miyachi M. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1997 Mar;29(3):390-5.
2. Effects of moderate-intensity endurance and high-intensity intermittent training on anaerobic capacity and VO2max. Tabata I, Nishimura K, Kouzaki M, Hirai Y, Ogita F, Miyachi M, Yamamoto K. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1996 Oct;28(10):1327-30. PMID: 8897392.