Tabata training was created by Dr. Izumi Tabata in the mid 1990’s and is a refined form of HITT (High Intensity Interval Training). It originated during Tabata’s time working with the Japanese speed skating team. He was asked by the team’s head coach to analyze the effectiveness of a training regime which involved rotating short bursts of maximum effort followed by short periods of rest. As a result of the research a workout consisting of 20 seconds of intense work followed by 10 seconds of rest was formulated. Based on Tabata’s belief that the sequence should ideally be repeated 8 times, Tabata Training is often referred to as the ‘4 minute workout’.
Tabata continued to carry out intensive research into the benefits of this form of training. His case studies consisted of participants completing 8 sets of ultra-intense cycling, with 10 seconds rest in between each set, for 5 days a week over a 6 week period. He countered this by having a group training for 6 weeks, 5 days a week, but for 60 minutes each day and at a moderate continuous intensity (~70% V02 Max as opposed to ~170% VO2 Max in the Tabata Training group). His findings showed that the Tabata Training group demonstrated improvements in both anaerobic and aerobic capacity, whereas the latter group only improved aerobic capacity. It was also found that despite the workouts being only 4 minutes in length as opposed to 60 minutes, the improvements in aerobic capacity were far greater in the Tabata Training group.
Whilst exercises such as running, swimming, rowing and cycling have often been used in Tabata Training, there is a new trend towards circuit training style exercises such as push-ups, sit-ups, squats and burpees being incorporated. Below is an example of how a circuit training style Tabata workout might look:-
Start with 3 to 5 minutes light warm up
Set 1: Squats for 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds rest
Set 2: Squats for 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds rest
Set 3: Wide grip push-ups for 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds rest
Set 4: Wide grip push-ups for 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds rest
Set 5: Burpees for 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds rest
Set 6: Burpees for 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds rest
Set 7: Narrow grip push-ups for 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds rest
Set 8: Narrow grip push-ups for 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds rest
Finish with 3 to 5 minutes cool down
Tabata Training can be used in many different and varied ways, as either a regular work out each day or utilised occasionally when there is insufficient time to complete a regular 45 minute workout. Which every way the method is used it provides an option of a quick, intense, fat-burning exercise program with lots of variety.
Given the positive effects many followers of the method have reported and the fact that the workout can be completed in around 4 minutes without any equipment, it is not difficult to see why Tabata Training is so popular at present.