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Tabatas: The Four Minute Workout

Updated on May 24, 2016
Tabatas only take 4 mins for a complete workout
Tabatas only take 4 mins for a complete workout | Source

What are Tabatas?

The fitness club I belong to has no machines and we do all our exercising with our own body weight. Recently a new class was added called "Tabatas" and it was only 30 minutes long.

This was highly unusual as all the other classes were an intense 60 minutes. As a new facility they are always adding new classes to their bootcamp style fitness that was very intense so you get an intense workout in 30 minutes? Why was this class so short?

It's because Tabatas are a high intensity interval training that can be done in 4 minutes actually. In just 4 minutes of intense training you can get a full body workout that improves your cardio, burns fat and builds muscle mass.

The Tabata session is timed in 20 second intervals of intense exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest. This is repeated for 4 minutes.

You can use the same exercise for each 20 second interval or alternate between two exercises or even do something different each time. These exercises can include, for example, jumping jacks, burpees, jump squats, pull ups - you name it!

The "I have no time!" excuses are eliminated with this exercise because all you need is 4 minutes. This is the best exercise to burn fat. So I tried that class and WOW, it was intense and a great workout because you really felt you had been working out for longer. The other aspect I liked about this session was that no matter how hard it became you knew it would be over soon so I would keep up the intensity even when I felt like quitting. This works for me!

Let's take a look at the history of this high intensity workout and how its benefits were discovered!

Tabatas were developed in Japan
Tabatas were developed in Japan | Source

Tabata History

Tabatas are named after their creator. Dr. Izumi Tabata of Tokyo, Japan started to study the effect of different exercise training protocols on athletes in the 1990s. After studying a number of different methods one was producing consistent and extraordinary results.

The significant improvements included fat loss and increased cardio and strength conditioning. A triple threat!

The method was then named Tabata Intervals or just Tabatas for short. Athletes that were trained using the tabata method consistently did better in competition.

Keep Active Just Do It!

Sample Video on Youtube: Try it Out!

Below is a sample demonstration of Tabatas. They are simple enough to do in your own home with no equipment needed. I have done a quick session in my home when life prevents me from getting to the gym. You really have no excuse here as Tabatas take very little time yet they are very intense and you will get the full benefit of a workout that normally takes 10 times longer.

Moving is so Important!

Sitting Disease is Here

Exercise is the number one activity that will lengthen your life and keep you vital into your golden years. Ignoring this aspect of your life and living as a couch potato will steal the years away from you.

Today there is a lot of talk about "sitting disease" and it is being compared to smoking! Imagine that sitting around the house can be as detrimental to your health as inhaling chemicals. It isn't just sitting around during our leisure time either. In this the information age people are sitting at desk jobs more than ever and it is just not good for you. We were not made to sit for so long.

We were made to walk and run. We must remember that we are hunter/gatherers and we also had to run from potential predators. A lot has changed since those days but our biology has changed little. It is highly recommended, particularly if you sit at a desk all day, to get up and walk around at least once every hour.

Count your steps!

A great idea is to strap on a pedometer and try to get to 10,000 steps each day minimum. You will be surprised how little you are walking when you first wear one of these gadgets. I know I was very surprised. I considered myself an active personal but when I wasn't in the gym I was barely getting 5,000 steps in per day. That is only half the recommendation. When you stop and think about your routine you spend so much time driving, sitting at a desk, then flaking out on the couch after a hard day at work. That's not a lot of steps.

High Intensity Interval Training - Resources Online

There are plenty of resources on-line for this type of exercise. It has become a very popular method of getting in quick workout which is a particularly important aspect in today's society. Time is at a premium but in order to extent your time on this earth you cannot afford to ignore the need for exercise. These links will provide you with everything you need to know to get started with Tabatas. Here's to your health!

Did you ever think you could get a workout in so little time?

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Dr. Oz likes Tabatas!

On a recent episode of Dr. Oz there was a demonstration of Tabatas with all health benefits described. Even Dr. Oz found it hard to believe you could get such a great workout in 4 minutes so he gave it a try. They did a whole workout on the show in the allotted time.

I have to admit I was impressed that he kept up with the trainer. Tabatas are a very intense workout and you think because of the short time that you really are not going to be challenged but you are! Give it a try and see the secret is in the short recovery periods remember you have to keep them limited to 30 second rests no cheating!

Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Gymboss miniMAX Interval Timer and Stopwatch - BLACK / PINK SOFTCOAT
Gymboss miniMAX Interval Timer and Stopwatch - BLACK / PINK SOFTCOAT

Here is a gymboss timer in black if pink is not your thing.


Exercise Timers - Perfect for Tabatas

If you are going to do Tabatas on your own you are going to need a timer. I like Gymboss timers they are perfect for timing tabatas or any other exercise where timing is key. I have never used the wrist attached timers but I think it's a great idea!

Tabatas - Will You Try This Exercise Method?

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    • Michelllle profile image

      Michelllle 4 years ago

      I use these in spin classes. Love it.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 4 years ago

      Love the idea it's so quick.

    • RedHairedRockHead profile image

      RedHairedRockHead 4 years ago

      This is something anyone an do at some level...I like it!

    • techmom profile image

      techmom 4 years ago

      This sounds very interesting - with four kids, four minutes is sometimes all I can manage!

    • Pam Irie profile image

      Pam Irie 4 years ago from Land of Aloha

      Four minutes sounds manageable!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Some days 4 minutes is all I can do :)

    • JackNorbridge profile image

      JackNorbridge 4 years ago

      I do the Peak 8 interval training. It's 30 seconds of hard training followed by 90 seconds of rest. I will give the Tabata intervals a try!

    • fatlossforflatabs profile image

      fatlossforflatabs 4 years ago

      I love Tabata heavy rope workouts. Deceivingly tough.

      Dr Sean

    • cutethings profile image

      cutethings 4 years ago

      I haven't tried tabatas yet, but it sounds interesting.