The Simple Approach to Get the Most Out of Your Tabata Workout

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Tabata workouts are an excellent example of high intensity interval training. These HIIT workouts can be an great way to increase your physical endurance and burn fat. We wanted to share with you our simple approach to this excellent workout so you can get the most out of it and add it to your repertoire.

Tabata workouts were developed by Dr. Izumi Tabata when he was working with the Japanese speed skating team back in the 90’s. He wanted to test if short bursts of hard, intense exercise was more effective than working out for an hour doing moderate training. His protocol showed increases in endurance, something normally attributed to longer aerobic exercise, while maintaining muscle strength.

The entire  4 minute session, called a Tabata, is broken up into 20 second sprint intervals, your high intensity interval, and 10 second rest intervals. That’s a total of 8 reps of intense exercise per Tabata.

Not only will Tabata style workouts help you shed fat, it also raises your VO2 Max. Which, if you didn’t know, is a measure of the rate of maximum oxygen consumption the body can take in and is directly correlated to your aerobic fitness.

A higher VO2 max raises your endurance. And being able to perform better, go harder, and last longer is a bonus in every department of life.

By now you’re probably wondering what’s the best way to do that. Well here’s what you need to do to get the most out of your Tabata workout.

Where we like to mix cardio and resistance exercises into our HIIT workouts, Tabata workouts should be all about the cardio. Simply approach the workout and do a single cardio exercise for the entire thing.

You can find a cardio exercise in the HIITDex. Choose one that you know you can perform well and like the most. If you’re a purist, you should perform the exercise on a stationary bike. We really found out how great of a workout Tabatas can be rom our experiences using the bike. It’s a great way to get the heart pumping!

Next, mentally prepare yourself. This is a meant to be hard, so having the right attitude and mindset is key. Make the most of the 4 minutes by maintaining focus and pushing through your barriers.

While you perform the exercise, go as hard as you can. Whether you’re pedaling, jumping, sprinting, running in place, etc., really take it to the limit. Getting out of your comfort zone is  the only way to get the most out of each 20 second burst interval.

These workouts are simple, not necessarily easy. If you don’t  get through an entire 4 minute Tabata workout at first,  that’s ok.  Just remember:

“Fall seven times, stand up eight.” ~ Japanese Proverb.

So try it again and see if you can do one more interval than last time.

If you’re a real go getter, try to do more than one Tabata per workout. You can use this method to really push yourself. One of our favorite combinations is a bike Tabata followed by a Tabata using a heavy bag. It’s a great workout that lasts less than 10 minutes.

Use this focused, single exercise approach the next time you try a Tabata. You will see how simple getting in shape can be.

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About Us

We're Alex & Tim Ruben. Former Division 1 college football athletes turned NASM Certified Personal Trainers specializing in HIIT and fat loss. We’re here to teach you everything you need to know about getting and staying fit in less than 20 minutes a day!