Looking for an intense, fat-burning, butt-kicking workout but don’t have a lot of time in your day? A Tabata workout can push your body to max and get you sweating in only 4 minutes!

What is Tabata?

Tabata is a type of high intensity interval training created by at Japan’s National Institute of of Fitness and Sports by Dr. Izumi Tabata. 

A Tabata workout is made up of eight 30-second sets for a total of 4 minutes. Each 30-second set consists of 20 seconds of high-intensity, maximum effort exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest. 

Tabata has been shown to be a quick and highly effective way to burn fat, boost your metabolism and improve cardiovascular fitness. As with other types of high-intensity interval training, Tabata is especially effective at burning fat because the high intensity intervals require your body to work harder to return to a resting state which means that you continue to burn calories after your workout is completed (known as the “afterburn effect”). All you have to do is work work 4 minutes of Tabata training into your routine to see results.

How to do a Tabata workout

Tabata can be a standalone workout or can be mixed in with another routine. You can do one 4-minute set or add multiple sets together for a longer, more intense workout. However you include Tabata in your workout regimen, there are a few key elements that will ensure you are getting a true Tabata workout.

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  • Timing – a workout series should consist of 8 rounds of 30-second intervals divided into 20 seconds of high intensity exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest. There are Tabata timer apps that you can use on your phone to keep you on track.
  • High intensity – Tabata is a high intensity workout that requires you to push your self to the max. Put your maximum energy and effort into every 20-second exercise interval for the best results.
  • Safe exercises – The difference between Tabata-style interval timing and true Tabata training. While you can use the timing framework with any exercise, a true Tabata workout requires maximum effort (maximum speed or number of reps). That means that some exercises, such as those using weights or other equipment, may not be safe or appropriate for a Tabata workout. 

How to do a Tabata-only workout:

Choose an exercise

You can do the same exercise for each of the 20-second intervals or mix it up by alternating two or more exercises. Typical exercises are cardio exercises like stationary cycling, running, or rowing and basic training exercises like squats, crunches, or pull-ups.

Some other exercises to try include:

  • High knees with jump rope
  • Burpees
  • Mountain climbers
  • Jump squats
  • Ice skaters
  • Jumping jacks
  • Push ups

Set your timer for 8 rounds of rest and exercise intervals like this:

:10 get ready

:20 exercise

:10 rest

:20 exercise

:10 rest

:20 exercise

:10 rest

:20 exercise

:10 rest

:20 exercise

:10 rest

:20 exercise

:10 rest

:20 exercise

:10 rest

:20 exercise

Push yourself!

For the best results, work as hard as you can during every 20-second interval. Combine multiple sets if you want a longer workout. 

A typical extended Tabata workout consists of three full sets with 2 minutes of recovery time in between. You can use the same exercises in each set, or different ones if you want to mix it up. 

Tabata training is a highly effective way to burn fat, improve fitness, and boost your metabolism in just a few short minutes. And with an endless number of exercise combinations you can do, it is a great way to keep your workout routine interesting and challenging.