Tabata Method – 4 Minutes of Intensity

Can you get an intense workout in about 4 minutes? According to the Tabata method you can. I have only recently heard of Tabata which is a method of exercise named after Izumi Tabata, PhD., a former researcher at Japan’s National Institute of Fitness and Sports.

The Tabata method is simply a form of interval training that works out like this:

  • Choose an exercise
  • Perform as many repetitions of the exercise for 20 seconds
  • Rest for 10 seconds
  • Repeat 7 more times

Performing an exercise that works a large number of muscles makes Tabata more effective. The two most common exercises are the Tabata squats and the Tabata thrusters.

Example of Tabata Thrusts

Tabata doesn’t seem like something that would be performed every day and definitely not something to try if you are out of shape.

I did come across an online Tabata clock which is cool:

Online Tabata Clock

Have you ever tried the Tabata method? Do you like it?

Author: Eartha Haines

My name is Eartha and I created this blog as a motivational resource for myself to keep up with exercise and eating right. I enjoy reading, learning, and writing about all things fitness related. I hope that as well as motivating myself, others may find motivation to try fitness as well. Learn more.

14 thoughts on “Tabata Method – 4 Minutes of Intensity”

  1. I do tabatas all the time. They are a regular workout in the Crossfit world. A one-exercise tabata can help you tremendously, but if you want to feel like you really just got your butt kicked try several exercises. For instance, 8 rounds of pullups 20sec on/10sec off, 8 rounds of pushups, 8 rounds of situps, 8 rounds of squats. There is no additional rest between exercises other than the 10 seconds after the last round. That is crossfit’s “Tabata Something Else”. Another one is “Tabata This” which is the same with rowing, squats, pullups, situps, and pushups, but typically has a minute additional rest between exercises. As with all things Crossfit, you keep score to track your progress. With tabata, your number of reps in each is your score (except for rowing/treadmill/etc in which calories are your score).

    I supplement Crossfit with Crossfit Endurance, which applies tabata to running, biking, swimming, and rowing as well. For running, apply the tabata rules (:20 on, :10 off, 8 rounds) to a treadmill set at an insanely high incline (12%) and at a speed of 30 seconds slower than your fastest 5k. Don’t stop the treadmill on rest, just hop off (and be careful getting back on). I’ve never done running tabata on a treadmill though, I typically do it on a steep hill.

    Also at work a group of us frequently go out to a park at lunch (say a couple times a month) and do tabatas. Our normal routine is the same with bleacher dips, jump rope, pushups, and squats. We vary the exercises up a little from time to time but that’s the norm. However, 8 rounds of 4 exercises is a bit lengthy and leaves you totaled for the afternoon, so we tend to go with 6 rounds instead of 8 for each.

    After you see that you can do a single exercise tabata, definitely try it with multiple exercises. It’s HARD, and you’ll want to quit while you’re doing it. But don’t, you can do it, just push yourself and you’ll feel great after doing it. I also recommend tracking your scores so you can see yourself improving each time you do it too. Good luck.

  2. This looks extremely interesting to me. I’ve always found high intensity exercises done for brief periods to be extremely effective. This is one of the reasons I would prefer doing something like 30 second hill sprints as opposed to a 10 mile run. The first really builds your body, while the second wears it down. Tabata seems to agree with this. Thanks for the post and the videos!

    – Dave

  3. I’ve done the Tabata squats on several occasions and man do they burn. Sometimes I will do Tabata squats and during the rest period, I will squat in a down position and hold it. Now that is nasty!!

  4. There was a 1997 study done in Japan at the Japan’s National Institute of Fitness and Sport. They tested cyclists that cycled for an hour at 70% intensity, and another group that did 20 minutes of 20 second intervals on/off at 100%. Although they worked out for only 20 minutes, the 100% intensity group gained twice the VO2 max that the hour at 70% group did. It seems that Japanese have been on the the high intensity thing for quite a while.

  5. Did Tabata exercises for the first time with my trainer. WOWZERS!! It is an intense 4 minutes. We did burpies, bench press and pull-ups.

  6. I have done the tabata routine for almost 3 months now, and boy this is a very tough workout. I started with 50% of the maximum weight now I am lifting 70%. I work 1 muscle group each day and do 4 or 5 exercises when working the chest, back,legs and shoulders. To meThe most difficult muscle group to workout while doing tabata is the legs, the firt month I tried it I could barely walk and got extremly exhausted after doing squats, leg press, squat and lounges, leg extentions and curl. If you do tabata you got to put the full in your tank dude. otherwise youll fail in my opinion,.the results are just great, I got a lot of strength, and a good gas for my soccer games hehehe

  7. Dude I’ve been doing this everyday for the last 4 days. I’m OK but I’m starting to wonder if it’s effective doing it everyday. It almost kills me everytime but then after the recovery I feel like superman all day. I know you mentioned that it’s not something to be performed everyday but I wonder if you have experimented with such frequency?

  8. I’ve been working out for 2 yrs now but tabata really push my heart rate to it’s maximum capacity… in just 30 mins my metabolism works so fast… go ahead guy’s try tabata atleast 2 x aweek and see the difference in no time… prepare your body by eating healthy nutritious food 2 hrs. before doing the tabata..

  9. Tabata is by FAR the hardest workout that I’ve even done in my life! I remember the first time I did it and it kicked my butt, big time. It will definitely get you in shape quickly if you have the guts to stick with it. So much more effective than regular cardio. It’s totally overrated. I see people on the stair master day after day at my gym and just shake my head. I learned the technique from a book called “Power Training” by Robert Dos Remedios. Awesome Read.

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