Tabata Interval Training

Tabata Interval Training

Tabata training is a form of circuit training named for Dr. Izumi Tabata. Dr. Tabata created an experiment in which he tested the effectiveness of steady state cardiovascular exercise versus a higher intensity form of exercise. The results of this experiment showed that the subjects improved their fitness level and increased their metabolism (allowing them to burn more fat) through the higher intensity form of exercise.

Tabata Interval Training

The most common form of Tabata Interval Training involves 8 rounds of 20 seconds of intense exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest. This means that it is possible to get a great workout in just 4 minutes. Dr. Tabata’s initial tests were performed using exercise cycles and swimming and focused on the aerobic benefits of this format.

Further studies have shown that using this method with other types of exercises, such as squats and push-ups, can build muscle while improving the athlete’s anaerobic capacity. The Tabata method can be lengthened to include longer exercise and rest periods as well, such as 40/20 splits.


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Tabata for Weight Loss

In order to lose weight, the heart rate must rise into the “fat burning zone.” The fat burning zone represents 60%-70% of the individual’s maximum heart rate. The maximum heart rate for an individual is calculated by subtracting the individual’s age from 220. Steady state exercise, especially for those who are experienced with that form of exercise, does not increase the heart rate into this zone.

The Tabata method, on the other hand, is proven to raise the heart rate into the “anaerobic zone,” which equals 80%-90% of the individual’s maximum heart rate. The effect of reaching this zone is that fat is being used as the body’s main energy source (which means more fat loss) and the body takes longer to recover from the training, which means that fat is being burned even while the body is at rest. Steady state cardio exercise does not achieve either of these.

Tabata for Fitness

Combat sports athletes must combine a mix of power, agility and most importantly, endurance, in order to be effective. For this reason, many boxers and Mixed Martial Artists have incorporated Tabata training into their regimen. The anaerobic requirements of the Tabata method has also shown to improve aerobic capacity. For example, distance runners have shown the ability to increase their times after engaging in Tabata-style training.


I recommend Tabata training for anyone who is looking to lose weight and improve fitness results. Four minutes on an exercise cycle, treadmill or in a pool, working at maximum capacity for 20 seconds and resting for 10 seconds over the course of 8 rounds will prove a tough workout to anyone who does it. If you really want to maximize the benefits, try including other types of exercises, such as press ups or squats, in their own intervals.

A round of cardio-based exercise, a round of leg-strength building exercises and a round a of upper-body strength building exercises using the Tabata methodology will have you looking your best in no time flat. I regularly use Tabata Intervals when training my clients in order to give them accelerated gains. This type of training has also proven very popular with my online clients and helped many to achieve amazing results in double quick time.


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  1. Debbie Loffell-Dawson says:


    I’m an endurance cyclist, and have recently started track cycling, so am interested in including Tabata intervals into my training to improve my anaerobic ability.

    when building Tabata intervals into your training programme, should they stand completely alone on the day you do them, or can they be included with something else? (if so, what do you recommend).


    • Hi Debbie,

      Tabata intervals will certainly help improve your anaerobic ability. You can use them on their own or depending on your fitness you could also do some longer endurance work on the same day, just be sure to give yourself at least 6 hours in between sessions. As you become fitter you will be able to mix it up more and have shorter rest periods. Just make sure you really go for it on the intervals to get the most out of them.

      Good luck on the track.

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