The Tabata interval protocol is the first High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workout routine I ever learned. HIIT Tabata workouts can help you to lose weight, build muscle, and improve your cardiovascular conditioning, unlike any other training method!
You can do Tabata workouts at home or the gym, and you will still receive amazing benefits.
Is it possible to become fit in just 4 minutes of exercise? Give the Tabata Interval Protocol a try for just one day, and you will see that it is!
Interested in learning about how you can change your body in just 4 minutes of exercise per day?
Check out these benefits of Tabata Interval training!
What is the HIIT Tabata Protocol?
Doctor Izumi Tabata discovered the “Tabata Interval Protocol” all the way back in 1996 when he and a group of researchers were studying the effects of moderate-intensity training versus high-intensity interval training anaerobic training capacity.
Although known throughout the world as the Tabata interval protocol, Kouichi Irisawa originally introduced this training method. Irisawa was the head coach of the Japanese National Speed Skating Team and had been using this training method for several years with the Japanese Speed Skating Team before testings its efficiency.
The Tabata interval method was originally tested using a stationary bike, although many different exercises can adapt to it.
To test the anaerobic conditioning benefits of the Tabata protocol, Dr. Tabata and other researchers conducted two experiments with different exercise intensities.
The first group of test subjects utilized moderate-intensity endurance training (~70% of maximal oxygen uptake-VO2Max) for six weeks and then tested their anaerobic work capacity.
This group did not improve their anaerobic work capacity significantly, which is not surprising. Moderate and low-intensity exercises rarely improve anaerobic conditioning.
Following this initial testing phase, they ran another test on subjects by having them perform “Tabata intervals” for six weeks, which resulted in far superior benefits!
The Tabata intervals consisted of seven or eight sets of 20-second max efforts-where the athletes pushed themselves at about 170% of their VO2Max. In between each 20-second interval, the athletes were allowed only 10 seconds of rest, creating a 2:1 work to rest ratio.
Most workout programs that involve 2:1 work to rest ratios consist of very low-intensity exercises, which is why the Tabata intervals improve your body quicker than other methods!
After the initial training period, the Tabata intervals proved to increase the average VO2Max of each athlete by 7ml/kg per minute- an astounding increase. Along with this, anaerobic capacity was also increased by 28%!
It is incredible that the Tabata intervals created such a staggeringly larger difference in anaerobic work capacity, but what is even more impressive is that the first group exercised a total of 1,800 minutes; while the second group exercised a total of 120 minutes!
Not only do Tabata intervals work your body more intensely, but they also save you time as well!
As stated in the initial study on HIIT Tabata training,
“moderate-intensity aerobic training that improves maximal aerobic power does not change anaerobic capacity.. Adequate high-intensity intermittent training may improve both anaerobic and aerobic energy systems significantly.”
Now that you understand the Tabata method let’s learn more about the best Tabata workouts!
Benefits of Tabata Workouts
Tabata Interval Training elicits numerous benefits for athletes of all levels. I began using this style of interval training about seven or eight years ago when I first learned about it, and it has been crucial for my in-season and off-season conditioning ever since.
As a professional basketball player, Tabata workouts are perfect for keeping me in shape to play basketball without the stress of running on a hard surface.
As the initial research studied though, the main benefit of Tabata protocol training is an increase in anaerobic and aerobic endurance. However, there are many other benefits as well.
Check out these other benefits of Tabata intervals!
Tabata Protocol Training and Type-2 Diabetes
In 2014, The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness produced a study which proved that HIIT is a suitable option for individuals with Type-2 diabetes to reduce and overcome their health issue.
High-intensity interval training produces metabolic adaptions in the human body which can help cure the “insulin addiction” of Type-2 diabetes. Traditional steady-state aerobic training has been well-known as a treatment option for Type-2 diabetes, which is why it is not surprising that HIIT would work as well.
The only negative narrative directed by the study is that the individual must be examined first and not worked over their physical limitations.
Since the Tabata protocol is the most efficient HIIT training method, it is clearly an option for those with Type-2 diabetes.
However, as the study indicated, don’t push past your boundaries unnecessarily and without proper guidance!
Full Body Tabata Workouts for Weight Loss and Fat Burning
If you want to lose weight and legitimately burn fat, there is nearly nothing more efficient than full body Tabata workouts. The intensity of Tabata training increases your metabolic rate to nearly fifteen times your usual basal metabolic rate (BMR)!
These workouts vastly improve your ability to burn calories and fat.
Since the full body Tabata workouts force you to exert short-term but extreme stress on your body, you will increase your BMR for up to 48 hours or more!
Your body will continue to burn fat even when you are resting after HIIT Tabata training. Although fat loss methods such as DIY coolsculpting offer results with little effort, the effort you put into Tabata workouts produces even better and more impressive results!
This HIIT routine is a perfect solution for weight loss.
Tabata Workout Routines Will Help Build Muscle
If you choose the right exercises, it is very easy to build muscle with this training method. I will write more about my favorite Tabata exercises below, but there are many different options to build muscle with the Tabata workout routine.
In fact, this is a perfect workout routine for hypertrophy!
Even the traditional stationary bike Tabata workout can add size to your quads, thighs, and hamstrings! If you incorporate other compound movements, there is potential to build a lot of muscle!
Increase Your Physical Fitness Without Stressing Your Joints
High-Intensity Interval Training, and specifically the Tabata protocol, are a form of cardiovascular exercise which does not promote inflammation throughout your body. The short duration of HIIT workouts takes stress off of your joints and tendons, which is why it is my favorite option for additional cardio while I am in-season.
I am always shocked to see people who are visibly out of shape jogging or running on the road. For most people, the mechanics of jogging are not natural. If you are trying to run or jog to lose weight, there is a strong chance you will injure yourself before you ever achieve the aesthetic body of your dreams.
Practicing HIIT will help your knees, hips, and ankles survive longer.
HIIT Workouts Save You Time
High-intensity interval training workouts save you an incredible amount of time overall. The 4 minutes of training during a Tabata workout can easily burn as many calories as 15 minutes of steady-state cardio, and within a few hours, the “after-burn” effect will have burnt hundreds more!
Instead of spending 30-minutes to an hour on low-intensity steady state cardio, you will have much more free time for the rest of your life!
HIIT does the work you need to do in less time!
Best Exercises for a Full Body Tabata Workout
Although you can use the Tabata interval training method with nearly any exercise, it is more effective with some than others. As the initial study proved, the stationary bike is clearly one of the best options (for more information on why, check out my article on the benefits of the stationary bicycle).
However, other compound exercises work as well!
Generally, compound exercises that you can perform easily and aren’t overly technical work best for this interval protocol. You will produce the most benefits for your body if you choose a movement which you can perform quickly and not strain your muscles or joints chosen.
Along with the stationary bicycle, a few of my favorite exercises for this interval method include:
- Body Squats
- Overhead Push Press
- ERG Rowing Machine
- Treadmill Sled Push
- Kettlebell Swings
Full Body Tabata Workouts at Home
Although there are many exercises which require weight, you can use the Tabata interval protocol with bodyweight exercises to get a great full body workout at home.
I often use this strategy to train in my home during holidays, when I can’t get to a gym easily.
If you want to do a full body Tabata workout, I suggest choosing only four exercises.
Start your workout with a proper dynamic warm-up, and end your workout with ten or 15 minutes of stretching. Combined, you can do an effective full body workout at home to build muscle and lose weight!
If you are attempting to create your own HIIT workout at home, try to avoid choosing exercises which are similar to each other.
For example, for exercises which compliment each other well (based on my list above) are:
- Kettlebell Swings
- ERG Rowing Machine
These four exercises hit nearly every muscle in your body, and they do not overlap too much.
When you are trying to plan your home workout, do your best to find exercises that work well with each other. Regardless of whether you use the Tabata intervals or not, using poor exercises will provide you with no benefits.
Concluding Thoughts on the Tabata Workout Protocol
Tabata HIIT has been one of my favorite training programs for years, and I suggest it to everyone to try. This style of training keeps me in shape out of season and improves my physical conditioning while I am in season.
The Tabata method is very demanding, so don’t try to use it more than one or two days per week until you are an advanced athlete. I honestly don’t do more than one or two of these workouts per week.
Consulting your doctor to ensure that this intense-type of training is viable for you is highly advised, especially if you have never done max-heart rate conditioning (or not in a long time).
Regardless of your level of fitness, you need to be conscious of the fact that working at such a high-intensity can result in the body-fatiguing significantly and resulting in an injury.
However, if you choose the correct exercises, the Tabata interval protocol is incredibly safe and extremely effective for shredding your body of excess fat and building muscle in the process!
Not a bad result of your daily cardio, right?!
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