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Tabata for Beginners

Updated on August 10, 2019
sharonbellis profile image

Sharon is a human resources professional who enjoys researching health related topics and sharing what she finds.

What is Tabata?

I belonged to a fitness club that had no machines. All of our exercising was done using our own body weight. Recently, a new class was added to the schedule and it was called "Tabatas". This class, unlike most of the others, was only thirty minutes long.

How is this possible? It was highly unusual because the other classes were all an intense 60 minutes. This facility is known for their intense bootcamp style fitness classes but can you get an intense workout in 30 minutes? I wanted to find out.

Tabata Training


What is a Tabata Workout?

The Four Minute Workout

The class was shorter than the others because Tabatas are high intensity interval training that is achieved in an astounding four minutes. In these four minutes of intense training you can get a full body workout that improves your cardio, burns fat and builds muscle mass. Incredible isn't it?

The Tabata session is timed in twenty second intervals of intense exercise followed by ten seconds of rest. This sequence is repeated for a total of four minutes.

You can use the same exercise for each twenty second interval or alternate between two exercises or even do something different each time. A few examples of the exercises that are great for a tabata workout are jumping jacks, burpees, jump squats, and pulls ups. However it is possible to incorporate any exercise into a Tabata sequence.

Tabata Exercises: A Simple Sequence

20 seconds - jumping jacks

10 second rest

20 seconds - jumping jacks

10 seconds rest

and repeat for the full four minutes.

The "I have no time" excuse is eliminated with this exercise because all you need is four minutes. This is the best exercise to burn fat because of its intense intervals.

I tried the class and it was very challenging. It really was a great workout because you still felt like you had exercised for a full hour. The other aspect I liked about this session was that no matter how hard it became I knew it would be over quickly and I would get the ten second rest. This motivated me to keep up the intensity even when I felt like quitting. I just kept in mind that very shortly I would get to that ten second rest.

Let's review the history of this high intensity workout and how its benefits were discovered.

Tabata: Made in Japan

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

Tabata Meaning

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

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

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

Keep Moving


Tabata Workout Youtube

Tabata workouts at home are super easy. These workouts are simple enough to do in your own home with no additional equipment needed. I have done quick sessions at home when life gets in the way and prevents me from getting to the gym.

You really have no excuse here since Tabatas take very little time yet they are very intense and you will get the full benefit of a workout that takes ten times longer.

Moving is so Important!

Sitting Disease is Here

Regular exercise is the number one activity that will lengthen your life and keep you vital into your golden years. Ignoring this by living your life as a couch potato will steal the years away from you. People don't become feeble because they are old necessarily, they become feeble because they stop moving!

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 toxic chemicals. It isn't just sitting around during our leisure time either. In 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.

Humans 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 hasn't.

It is highly recommended, particularly if you sit at a desk all day, to get up and walk around at least once every half hour or even more often if your job allows.

Made for Intervals

Often we get misleading or conflicting advise about how to keep fit. Science is always discovering new issues and advising us against this or that.

When I am provided with new information or advice I try to look at it from the point of view of human history. From an historical viewpoint it makes sense that tabatas would be the most beneficial exercise.

Our early ancestors had to run very fast in short sprints to get away from predators. Our bodies were designed or this, however, we don't have to run from predators in the modern age. Our bodies still crave this exercise and it makes sense that interval training or tabatas demonstrated such a good response in our bodies. This exercise mimicks the the "running intensely from predators" of our past.

Count your steps!

A great idea is to strap on a pedometer and try to get to 10,000 steps each day at a 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 person 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 flopped on the couch after a hard day at work. That's not a lot of steps.

Tabatas only take 4 mins for a complete workout
Tabatas only take 4 mins for a complete workout | Source

Tabata Training - More 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 and this is particularly important in this fast paced world we live in.

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.

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

See results
Doctors recommend Tabatas
Doctors recommend Tabatas | Source

Dr. Oz Tries Tabatas

There was a recent demonstration of Tabatas on an episode of Dr. Oz. Even Dr. Oz found it hard to believe you could get such a great workout in four minutes and so he gave it a try. He then proceeded to do an entire Tabata workout on the show.

I have to admit I was impressed that Dr. Oz kept up with the trainer. Tabatas are very intense and you would think because of the short time interval that you won't be challenged, however, this is definitely not the case. I challenge you to give it a try and you will see the secret is in the short recovery periods. Remember you have to keep them limited to ten second rests no cheating!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2012 Sharon Bellissimo


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