Have you seen, read or heard the word “Tabata” many times and thought what is it? You have clicked the right link because, in the next few minutes of your life, you will be knowing and learning what Tabata is.

Think about how many years have you been already working out and ask yourself where did all of these exercises originate? Rather, how did it first started? Was there an influence or inspiration on this? The answer to all the questions, is a big YES. We could travel back in time and re-track how working out came about but seemingly it would take forever to recall each one of them. But, if we could ask the creators, founders or workout gurus they would have one answer in common, “It is all about extensive full-body training and recovery”.

There is one classic training that has been a part of the workout history for quite some time now. If you want to increase strength, improve flexibility, build muscle, lose weight or whatever fitness goal you want, this intense training will be your key. Some people are familiar with it, some are not, it is called the TABATA.

What is TABATA or TABATA Training?

TABATA, basically, is one of the most popular high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workout. It composes of sets of highest-intensive exercises performed in 20 seconds each and with a 10 second interval to rest. It usually lasts for an approximate of four minutes, but those four minutes will feel like a whole day of workout because it will definitely push your body and muscles to its maximum limits.

TABATA training was first discovered by Japanese scientist Dr. Izumi Tabata and a team of researchers from the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo, Japan during the 1990’s. They had conducted a study with a primary purpose to train Olympic Speed Skaters which then had spread rapidly on the following years.

His study consisted of two speed-skating groups using a mechanically braked cycle ergometer to evaluate anaerobic capacity and VO2 max. One group performed a moderate-intensive workout program for six weeks, five days a week, one hour per day. The second group performed an intermittent high-intensive workout program for also six weeks, five days a week. But, this time, the workout program consisted of eight sets of 20 seconds exercise with a 10 second interval to rest. The results were that only the second group had a significant increase both in VO2 max and anaerobic capacity.

A common misconception has clouded the internet as to when you search for Tabata Workouts, since, results will show you imitators of this training system advising you how to do “Tabata training”. Last year, 2015, the Tabata System was launched as an official licensed exercise program in the United States and United Kingdom, with Dr. Tabata as the nominal leader. Some protocols still parallel with the principles of Tabata’s work, while others are just made-up interval workouts. Therefore, best be aware of imitations of the said program, yes it may be just a normal (yet, ultra-intensive) exercise but better to be sure and have the exact results than to gain nothing at all.

How do you perform TABATA?

You must have a clear grasp of the principle of the Tabata training. Its mainly a four-minute exercise, that’s it! Sounds simple, right? But, there is a slight twist, in this four-minute exercise you have to perform it with a full-burst, all-out effort. And when we say “all-out effort” you have to see the stars, crazily gasp for air and almost vomit your stomach out after the workout.  Although the study did not intend to deal with fat loss, body consumption or achieving a desired figure, still the effects of this Training program has been proven by a lot of people who workout.

You might be thinking now, “Why would I or anyone do this?”, that is a million-dollar question but despite how insane it sounds it is the miracle you have unconsciously wanted. Imagine a four-minute workout that gives you the same effects as of spending an hour or two on the treadmill. The trick to successfully perform the Tabata training is INTENSITY.

Tabata training is all about pushing yourself to your maximum limits. Think of any workout activity, sprints, push-ups, squats, jumping jacks, anything! Then go as hard as you can with those activity for 20 seconds followed by a breather for 10 seconds. Listed below are examples and variations of Tabata Training programs.

Tabata Protocol Circuit, approved by dr. Tabata himself. Perform each exercise listed for 20 seconds followed by a 10 second rest. Be sure that you perform each exercise at your maximum effort.

Exercise 1: COCKROACH

  • Position yourself as if you are going to crawl. Both hands and feet touches the floor.
  • Crawl four paces forward.
  • Jump up in the air with arms fully extended. Turn around;
  • Repeat


  • Start with a lunge position. One knee should be bent forward and the other one bent backwards in a kneeling position but with an inch off above the ground. Both knees are at a 90 degree angle. Place both hands on your hips and back should be vertically straight. This is your starting position.
  • Push yourself up off the ground. While in mid-air, switch the position of your legs.
  • Land into your starting lunge position, now with the opposite leg forward.
  • Repeat and switch legs on each jump.


  • Stand in a shoulder-width stance with hands on your sides.
  • Sprawl. It is done in a push-up position but instead of bring your chest down, close to the floor, your hips will be the one to sag down. Arms are remained extended.
  • Push off from the ground using your hands back to the standing position.
  • Jump with arms reaching the ceiling or sky.


  • Lunge in one side. Hold a dumbbell with a 2.5-5 lbs in weight with both hands.
  • Swing the dumbbell up from the floor on the side where your forward foot is going above to your opposite shoulder. Extend arms as you swing above.
  • Contract abs and glutes as you repeat the movement.

Exercise 5: FROG JUMP

  • Stand wider than shoulder-width stance with your hands behind your head.
  • Squat down maintaining your torso straight. Set your eyes at a certain horizontal, focal point.
  • Jump a few feet forward and gently contact the ground using your legs to absorb the land.


  • It is the same with doing a regular burpee but this time, rather than landing with both feet, you land in only one foot.
  • As you go to a push-up position, rather than supporting your body with both legs, support it using one foot.
  • All throughout the exercise, one leg should remain lifted and NEVER touch the floor.


  • Start in a push-up position.
  • Shift the weight of your body to your right arm.
  • Using your right leg, kick at your left side.
  • Alternate the movement on both sides as quickly as you can.


  • Stand with a wider than shoulder-width stance.
  • Bend knees down to a deep squat.
  • Shift your body weight to one leg, performing a side lunge.
  • Alternate movements as quickly as possible.

Tabata Training for Novices, perform each exercise to full maximum repetitions.


  • Start off in a push-up position.
  • Bending one knee, bring one leg, as close as you can, to your chest. The forwarded leg should be supported by your toes only, so the heel is raised off from the floor. Imagine as if you are literally mountain climbing, but horizontally. This will be your starting position.
  • Explosively reverse the position of both legs. Your forwarded leg should now take the position of the extended leg, and the rear leg should now be bent forward.
  • Repeat movements alternately.

Exercise 2: HIGH KNEE JOG

  • This movement is the same as a normal jog except that you pull your knees higher and closer towards your chest.
  • Back should always maintain a straight posture.

Exercise 3: BURPEE

  • Stand in a shoulder width stance.
  • Bend knees down to a squat with hands touching the floor.
  • Explode both legs backward going to a push-up position. Hips should not sag down to the floor.
  • Jump forward returning to the squat position with hands touching the floor.
  • Using your leg power, push feet off the floor to a full, body-straight jump. Extend arms as if you are going to reach the ceiling or sky.

Exercise 4: AIR SQUAT

  • Start with standing in a shoulder-width stance.
  • Place hands at the back of your head or you can extend them forward parallel to the floor, whichever you are comfortable with.
  • Keep your back straight as you bend your knees down to a squat position.
  • Return back to the standing position and repeat to its maximum repetitions.

Repeat these four exercises twice to complete one Tabata circuit. Each exercise should be performed within 20 seconds only then have a 10 second interval break in between exercises.

Developed Tabata Moves, courtesy of Equinox’s top Tabata Trainer, Amanda Young. Listed below are some of the few modernized moves by Young. Try to incorporate these moves to your repertoire to hype up your daily workout.


  • Stand in a hip-width stance, and clasp your arms together near your chest.
  • Bend knees down to a squat, keeping your back straight and pushing your hips backwards.
  • Jump a few feet forward and softly land into a squat position with your heels first touching the ground then your toes.
  • Stand up but with slightly bent knees and hip-hinged backwards and take small, quick steps backward to your initial position.

Exercise 2: JUMP SQUAT

  • This exercise is just like the regular air squat, but instead of going back to a standing position;
  • Push off from the floor or ground into a jump movement with legs extended in mid-air.
  • Absorb your landing slowly as you go back to the squat position.

Exercise 3: PLANK WITH A ROW

  • Start in a plank position with arms fully extended and straight.
  • Bend your elbows in line with your ribs and lift right hand off the ground.
  • Place right hand back to the floor and immediately repeat the same movement on the other side.

What are the Benefits of TABATA?

How can a four-minute workout be so effective in achieving your dream body goals? Well, the explanation is all on the burst of effort you pour into your workouts. Pushing yourself to its fullest intensity means your exhausting and maximizing every bit of muscle you have in your body. Given only 10 seconds to rest is not enough, because this is not exactly a rest, but a preparatory state for your body to recover itself for the next 20-seconds burst. Therefore, after your whole workout, given that you have performed it at a 100 percent intensity, your body will experience what is commonly called as the Afterburn Effect. In to which your body continues to shed of sweat and release energy due to the increase in rate of your heartbeat.

But it is all worth it. As little as a four-minute workout it can already increase your aerobic capacity, anaerobic capacity, VO2 max, metabolic rate, burns your fats and can make you look leaner than normal. A four-minute workout, or “One Tabata”, can give you the fitness goals you have always aimed for.

These training system is now popularly called the 4-minute Workout Miracle. Even top celebrities engage themselves in this almost death-defying workout. Try these out and leave yourself wondering why did you even decide to do so? But, nonetheless, you will not regret the results. It is without a doubt that after you try the Tabata Training System you will have a new form of respect for interval workouts. This workout definitely defies the stereotype that “shorter is not always easier”.

Always remember, there is never a full-recovery between sets. Your heart must be pumping to its maximum, sweat dripping like waterfalls and you must be out of breath by the end of this four-minute monster. This Tabata Workout is systematically designed with pure difficulty. Enjoy the pleasure of pain and be amazed of your fast fitness gains.


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