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What is Tabata Training?

There are various training methods which are great for triggering the afterburn effect. You may already know that the best possible form of training for afterburn is high intensity interval training.

High intensity interval training (HIIT) can be carried out in many different ways, and is very adaptable. But there is a specific type of HIIT that is truly amazing for those of us wanting to trigger a huge afterburn. This type of HIIT is called ‘tabata training’ and believe me, it is extremely intense!

So what is tabata training?

Tabata training is quite simply a workout method that consists of 4 minutes of high intensity interval training. The clear advantage of this workout method is that not only will it give you one heck of an afterburn, but it also won’t consume much time out of your day. Also, because this workout is only 4 minutes long, you can easily incorporate it into your existing workout routine, perhaps doing a tabata workout after your weight lifting session.

The Tabata Workout Method

A tabata workout is almost identical to any old high intensity interval training workout, except it follows a very specific interval pattern and timings. The basic layout of a tabata workout is this:

  • 4 minute duration for the entire workout (Includes both exercise and rest intervals)
  • Start with 20 seconds of highly intense exercise
  • Followed by a 10 second rest interval
  • Repeated for 8 cycles

The thing I personally like about this workout is how flexible it is. You are free to include any exercise you like (high intensity of course!), and you can mix it up. My own preference is to perform 4 different types of exercise in 2 cycles. I will give you an example of my favourite tabata workout below and list every single step, just to avoid any confusion:

  • 5-10 seconds preparation time (using an interval timer)
  • 20 seconds of high knees
  • 10 seconds rest
  • 20 seconds of jump squats
  • 10 seconds rest
  • 20 seconds of mountain climbers
  • 10 seconds rest
  • 20 seconds of burpees
  • 10 seconds rest
  • Repeat once over (excluding the preparation step of course)

This workout in particular is amazing for triggering the afterburn effect, due to it consisting entirely of exercises that require jumping or leg movement. If you have read my previous articles, you will know that performing jumping/leg exercises is one of the best ways for creating an afterburn.

Using An Interval Timer

Tabata TimerNow if you were reading carefully before, you will have noticed that I mentioned using an interval timer in my tabata workout. Using an interval timer will make the workout much easier to follow and more efficient, as you won’t need to count during the exercise and rest periods. This means that you can focus solely on the workout.

I highly recommended getting yourself some form of timer, and there isn’t any reason not to have one as you can easily get one for free! Below I will list a few ways to get an interval timer for free:

Free Interval timer for smart phones:

Don’t have a smart phone? No worries! You can also use a free online version of a tabata timer here.

Though if you don’t have a smart phone and you can’t do your workouts near a computer, your only option is to buy one I’m afraid.

Where Does Tabata Training Come From?

Tabata training actually gets its name from the inventor; Dr. Izumi Tabata. Izumi is a Japanese scientist that helped craft this new workout method, along with a team of researches from a fitness institute in Tokyo. Izumi and his research team were testing and comparing the effects of high intensity training and medium intensity training on the body.

Izumi Tabata

They took 2 different groups of athletes for their study. One group consisted of athletes adept at high intensity training, the other group of athletes adept to medium intensity training. The medium intensity group followed a traditional workout routine of 5 workout days a week for 6 weeks, each workout duration being 1 hour. The high intensity group followed the now known tabata style, working out 4 days a week for 6 weeks, and for only 4 minutes per workout day.

At the end of the study, the medium intensity group showed improvement in their aerobic system, but there was hardly any change in their anaerobic system.

The high intensity group on the other hand showed a much greater improvement to their aerobic system and also improved their anaerobic system by roughly 28%.

The concluding results clearly showed that high intensity interval training (tabata training) was much better at improving both the aerobic system AND the anaerobic system.

Here is a video example of a tabata workout for you to try yourself:

Exercises included in this video are:

  • Jump squats
  • Jump lunges
  • Burpees
  • Pushups

Tabata workouts are amazing for giving a huge afterburn effect, and it’s scientifically proven! So what are you waiting for? Go and give it a go!

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3 Responses to “What is Tabata Training?”

  1. Khadijah says:

    how many times must we repeat this 4 minute workout in one day to lose weight by the end of the week? Is the 4 minute workout sufficient to for someone trying to lose weight?
    Khadijah recently posted…What is Tabata Training?My Profile

  2. Stevie says:

    Hi Karl! I love this site. I was just wondering how important or flexible the hardwork/rest timing split is? I just did a workout where I was working for 45 seconds resting for 15 – is this as effective as working for 20 and resting for 10? And how about 50/10? Just interested! Thanks!

    • Karl Peach Karl Peach says:

      Hey Stevie. So sorry for the delayed response – I’ve had a very busy few months.
      The workout/rest split is fairly flexible, and increasing the split to fit in more exercise time will certainly increase your calorie burn. A 45/15 split is impressive. Doing more is fine, just don’t injure yourself! Make sure you’re warming up/stretching and cooling down.

      Glad you enjoy the site. Have a good workout!

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