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Tabata: 20-Minute Fat-Blasting Workouts


By now it’s likely you’ve heard about the marvels of high-intensity interval training, (or HIIT), and you may have even incorporated some of these exercises into your current fitness routine. But while HIIT workouts – which challenge you to “give it your all” during short bursts of activity building endurance and speed – are becoming increasingly popular, something called Tabata is less known.

In this article, we’re going to introduce you to some Tabata exercises, since this specific type of HIIT workout has been shown to be incredibly beneficial for helping you reach your fitness and weight loss goals. Not to mention, it’s ideal if you have a tight schedule and feel like you don’t have the time to work out…

So, what is Tabata?

As mentioned, Tabata is a form of high-intensity interval training that challenges the body in ways that longer sessions of moderate intensity doesn’t. The practice, which is great for building both strength and endurance, was developed by a scientist/researcher named Izumi Tabata in the 1990’s; And his goal when creating it was to effectively train Olympic speed skaters. 

How can you distinguish Tabata from other HIIT workouts? It consists of a series of four-minute sets during which cycles of 20 seconds of effort are followed by 10 seconds of rest. Think four minutes isn’t enough time to help you shape your body or improve your health? Well, research shows that it is!

In a study done by the founder, it was discovered that athletes showed improved performance following Tabata workouts completed five days a week for six weeks, compared to those who did longer workouts at a less intense pace. In particular, while both groups increased their capacity for aerobic (or cardiovascular) activity, only the Tabata group had improved their capacity for anaerobic (or muscular) activity.

What is anaerobic capacity? It’s the amount of energy you can produce during super-quick, super-intense bursts of effort. And what does this mean for you? If you don’t have a lot of time on your hands, Tabata could be an effective form of physical activity for helping you move towards your goals. You just have to be willing to work extremely hard for that short period of time, (to the point where you will probably be extremely unhappy for those four minutes)!

Once you grow more comfortable with four-minute Tabata, you can engage in longer sessions. However, they will always consist of bursts of four-minutes per exercise. The idea is to work so hard during those efforts that both the aerobic system (cardiovascular) and anaerobic system (muscular) are completely exhausted. Not only will this scorch calories, but the engagement of the anaerobic system can lend the benefit of burning calories long after your workout!

An example of a 20-minute Tabata workout, (which includes four different Tabata sets plus time for warm-up and cool-down) at home or the gym includes:

1) Burpees (4 min)

2) Jump Squats(4 min)3) Dumbbell Front Squats(4 min)

4) Push-Ups(4 min)

The beauty of Tabata is in its versatility! You can pick from hundreds of exercises and variations… ensuring you don’t get bored but also that you work all parts of your body. This means you can change exercises frequently while also focusing on particular areas where you desire more muscle development. Tabata is also fabulous for helping you plow through weight loss plateaus, and for improving overall athletic conditioning. In short, the energy exerted in this series of exercises will jolt your body into fat-burning mode!

If you’re bored with your current workouts, low on time, not seeing weight loss results, or just trying to up the ante, you should try Tabata! However, keep in mind, (especially if you’re new to physical fitness), that Tabata is incredibly intense. When engaging in Tabata workouts for beginners, you should always do a warm-up beforehand and cool-down after, plus complete the exercises at the most challenging pace you can handle – while respecting your personal limits and boundaries, to avoid injury.

Are you ready to try Tabata? Tell us about your experience, below!

Written by:

Dana Gates

310 Nutrition Senior Writer

Dana Gates is a seasoned writer and researcher with over a decade of experience writing about all things health and wellness. Through her articles, she aims to inspire others to live their best, healthiest, and most active lives–by making wise lifestyle and dietary choices daily. Her ultimate goal at 310 [...]

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