Tabata training

HIIT, SMIT or whatever - still very hard and extreme training although ii lasts only 4 minutes! I decided to try, what Tabata feels like when you make it with burpees. It felt bad (read: very lactic acidy), but very nice experience - my warm recommendations! ;) I could set an additional goal for the spring concerning qualities needed in Tabata. By the summer I want to be better in speed endurance, muscle endurance and muscle condition!


The history of Tabata

Tabata is developed in Japan in the end of last centuary. "The father of Tabata" is scientist Izumi Tabata. He made his experiment with two athlete groups comparing moderate (70% from VO₂ max) and effective (170% from VO₂ max) interval training together. Those athletes who trained using moderate interval training had 6 weeks training period with 5 training sessions in a week - each training session lasting 60 minutes. Athletes using SMIT / HIIT had 6 weeks training period with 4 training sessions in a week - each training session lasting 4 minutes; 20 second interval 170% from VO₂ max and 10 seconds recovery.

The results showed that High-Intense Interval Training increased athletes' aerobic capacity much more than using moderate intervals as a training method. HIIT increased anaerobic capacity 28%. Moderate interval training had significant positive effect on the athletes only in the aerobic training level. You can read more about SMIT and HIIT, differences, pros and cons from the earlier blog posts.

What is Tabata?

Tabata is advanced training method, which requires good basic condition and mental toughness. Tabata lasts 4 minutes and has 8 intervals. Every interval is 20 seconds with maximum effort.

20 seconds work with maximum effort

10 seconds full rest / recovery

8 intervals

In total 4 minutes very hard training, in which those 20 work seconds are
the longest seconds of your life!

You can do the same exercise in every 20 second interval or you can change exercises depending on your likes and goals.

Tabata example:

Squat with own body weight or additional weights (intervals 1 and 3)

(intervals 2 and 5)

(intervals 4 and 7)

Sprinting in place
(intervals 6 and 8)

  • Squat (own body weight or
    additional weights)
  • Push-ups
  • Squat (own body weight or
    additional weights)
  • Chin-ups
  • Push-ups
  • Sprinting in place
  • Chin-ups
  • Sprinting in place

highly used exercises in Tabata:

squats (own bodyweight or additional weight)
shuttle sprints
jumping rope
medicine ball slams
box jumps
bench press
lunge jumps
kettlebell swings
dead lifts

Before and after Tabata

Put the equipment used in Tabata in place and ready. Do a proper Warm Up (nice sweat and stretching especially to those areas that you will use in Tabata). After Tabata do good Cool Down for example by walking or jogging to avoid blood pooling.

Blood pooling:

After a hard training, heart in pumping huge amount of blood to muscles used in the exercise. Blood transports oxygen and nutrients to muscles and after that it returns to heart to get more oxygen. When you stop moving, the force pushing blood back to the heart stops also. Without proper Cool Down lactic acid stays in the muscles, which can cause swelling and pain. In the most extreme situations blood pooling can cause unconsciousness, because there isn't enough oxygen for the brain to use, since all blood circulation (oxygen transport) is aimed at muscles and removing lactic acid (waste products).

Because Tabata is very intense interval training, it is very demanding for the body also. After Tabata your muscles will be sore on the next day. It is wise to take a rest day after this exercise so that your body will have enough recovery time. You must remember to eat before and after Tabata in order to be able to do an effective exercise and to recover well from this. You have to get energy and nutrients for the body so that recovery process starts / begins / becomes more effective. Body needs a lot of energy after this training!!

Remember to stretch and eat well before and after training. Have enough recovery time before next Tabata!

Enjoy Tabata! It takes only a short time, but it is such a lovely extreme training in which you can leave all that you have to the exercise field. Although pushing yourself to the extreme all the time is not the purpose of exercising and training, sometimes you can and it is wise to test your limits.

Oh, iPhone has at least few Apps that helps you to use Tabata (don't have to worry about taking time). Try Tabata timer and Tabata+ Lite!

Here is something to cheer your day: My Tabata with burpees as a Youtube link - a bit speeded up occasionally though! ;) My burpees during intervals were 6+5+5+4+4+3+4 = in total of 34 reps. I tried to jump as high as I could in the burpees (read: as high as I could with the huge amount of lactic acid in my thighs). I think over 50 burpee reps would be a great results for me in Tabata... How many reps can you make? Can you beat my score? ;)

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You can read more about Tabata at least from here:

Tatu Pussila

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