Tabata Workouts – Training Like it’s Your Last Workout

Tabata Workouts

Our society is much different today than it was just a generation or two ago.  The way we live today, it’s much more important to workout and stay in shape.  We all know that with today’s fast pace lifestyle, it’s not always possible.  Well welcome to Tabata Workouts and Tabata Training.

I remember being a kid and staying at my grandparents house.  My grandfather was in the trades and my grandmother cleaned houses.  Both of them were in great shape and neither of them every worked out.  Well, back then you really didn’t have to.  Yes, it wasn’t the in thing to do, but back then people weren’t sitting around like they are today.  Plus we didn’t have the type of food back then that we have now.

Everyday we are less active and consume more calories.

Instead of performing work where we are on our feet all day, we tend to sit in front of a computer, the TV, in a cubical or at the coffee shop.  With today food, it’s much easier to consume a great number of calories than ever before.

We all want to be in shape for a variety of reasons.  Some want to be able to keep up with their kids, some want to look good, some want to do it to stay healthier and the list goes on.  Whatever your reasons, we have those days where we just don’t have the time.  Or maybe we have the time, but we want to do something different, change things around.  Where this is where Tabata comes into play.

What is Tabata Workouts

Tabata Workouts are HIIT workouts which are High Intensity Interval Training.  HIIT workouts are where you work as hard as you can for a short period of time and then you rest for a sort period of time.  The idea is to push your and your body to it’s limits.

With Tabata you workout hard for 20 seconds, then you rest for 10 seconds.  Now if you haven’t done this, you might think it’s no big deal, but it is.  Even  though it’s only 20 seconds on and 10 seconds off for a total of 4 minutes, it’s very intense.  It will kick your butt.

Here is the breakdown for Tabata Workouts

  • Workout hard for 20 Seconds
  • Rest for 10 Seconds
  • Complete for 8 rounds

I know it may sounds simple, but if you are huffing and puffing when you are done, you did it wrong.

Background on Tabata Workouts

Tabata is named after a scientist who performed a study.  The Japanese scientist, Dr. Izumi Tabata performed a study with two different groups of speed skater athletes.

Type of Training – Trained on ergonomic cycles.

Group 1 – Trained at a moderate level.  Worked out five days a week for six weeks.  Each workout was an hour long.

Group 2 – Trained at a high intensity level. Worked out four days a week for six weeks.  Each workout was four minutes and 20 seconds long.

Weekly Difference – Group 1 workout one extra day and about 282 minutes longer per week.  That is a lot more time for group 1.

Results – As we would expect, group 1 their aerobic or cardiovascular system, but didn’t see any results for their muscular system.  However group 2 showed a bigger increase with their cardiovascular system and a big increase in their muscle system, a 28% increase.

Bottom Line – With Tabata, you can training less and not only improve your cardiovascular system, but also your muscular system.  Just have to make sure you are following the Tabata guideline which is simple.  20 seconds of high intensity training, followed by 10 seconds of rest.  Do this 8 times for your workout.

When Should I use a Tabata Workout

Before you start this or any other type of workout, always consult with your doctor.  You always want to make sure your body is up for this type of workout.

Before you Start – Have a game plan down on how you want to utilize the Tabata workout.  Make sure you get enough rest the nigh before so you can perform at your top level.  Always make sure you are hydrated as that can also impair your ability to perform at peak levels.

So when should you perform a Tabata workout?  It’s really up to your and your schedule.  I like to do my workouts in the morning.  So for me, i use the Tabata workout at a couple of different times.  Here is when I use the Tabata Workouts:

  • When I wake up late and don’t have time for a full workout.
  • When I want to change things up because I am bored of my usual workout
  • When I have extra energy and want to workout hard.
  • Occasionally after a run.  Sometimes if I only run two miles, I will throw a Tabata workout at the end of my run.  I will set my timer and run as hard as I can for 20 seconds and then walk for 10 seconds.  My goal is to be able to complete all 8 rounds, but it’s hard for me to get past the third round.  Either way i know I am throwing a little more at myself when I am running.

You may have your own ideas or your own times.  If you are going to implement the Tabata workout into your routine, I would suggest using it between 3 and 4 days a week.

Now by no means am I a fitness guru.  I am just like you, someone who wants to stay in shape and doesn’t have all day to workout.  You can look around the internet and you will find some great Tabata workouts and also some helpful tips.

Tabata Workouts

Example of Tabata Workouts

There are two types of exercises you can perform with the Tabata workout.  You can either do a repetitive workout or vary the workout.

Repetitive Workout – For this type of workout, you would do all 8 reps using the same exercise.  So say you want to do sit ups, this would be your only exercise for the 8 reps.  You would go as hard as you can and do sit-ups for 20 seconds.  Then take a 10 second rest and do sit-ups again for the next 20 seconds.  You would be repeating this until the workout is done

Vary Workout – All your 8 exercises would be different.  Maybe the first set you would do sit-ups, then take your rest.  The next 20 seconds might be squats and then your rest.  Your next one might be push-ups.

The great thing about the variable workout is you get a ton of different muscle groups involved.

For me, I do both and just mix it up.  When I get done running, I tend to push my limits with running.  If I have all ready had a workout in for the day and I have more energy, i will mix in a Tabata workout and do a repetitive workout.  For the days when I only have time for a Tabata workout, I will mix it up.

Again this is what’s so cool about the workout, you can set it up anyway you want.  Put together a list of your favorite workouts and make up your own Tabata workout.

Here is a great list of some killer Tabata Workout examples.

Tabata Workout Final Thoughts

Now I am not saying this is the only thing you should do.  Use this when you want to change things around.  We all know that our lives are faster paced with kids.  We have to get them ready for school, take them to after school activities, help with their homework and more.  So having this workout as an option is great for the days we have a time crunch.

Let me know your thoughts on the Tabata Workout.  Have you been using this?  What workout do you do?

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I grew up in a small town in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. I worked my way through DePaul University in the construction industry. After college I worked in the financial industry and school system. I have also been in the technology field for a couple of years. Currently I write for GT Today and another power tool publication, plus I am a part time firefighter. My only hobby is spending time with my wife and kids.


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