Trying new workouts can be intimidating. You have no clue if you’re doing the moves right and following the workout rules, and you wonder whether the plan will actually help you reach your fitness goal.
If there’s one type of workout that can help you get fit, it’s Tabata training. Don’t let the word scare you. It’s actually fun to say—and the workouts are fun, too.
What Is Tabata Training?
Here’s the cliff-note version: Tabata is high intensity interval training (HIIT) that lasts four minutes.
A Japanese scientist, Dr. Izumi Tabata, and his team of researchers from the National Institute of Fitness and Sports discovered the form of exercise in Tokyo.
They had two groups of athletes train at different intensities: Group 1 worked out at a moderate level while Group 2 trained at high intensity. Group 1 worked out for one hour five days a week for six weeks. Group 2 trained for four minutes four days a week for six weeks. The result: Group 1 increased their cardiovascular endurance, but showed no muscle gain. Group 2 showed an increase in muscular and cardio strength by 28 percent.
The research concluded that shorter workouts with more intensity impact both cardio and muscular strength more than steady-state workouts.
So, how do you get started with Tabata? Simple. Make sure you have about 25 minutes to work out, and try the following circuit. You can do this workout at home, at the gym or outside. You can use equipment or your own bodyweight.
- Each workout consists of eight rounds.
- You’ll do the move for 20 seconds—but make sure you give it your absolute all for those 20 seconds. Even though you’ll work hard, it’s really important to complete each move with good form (see instructions below) to avoid injury and get the most benefits.
- After each 20-second bout of high-intensity exercise, rest for 10 seconds.
- Repeat the entire circuit eight times. Take a minute break between circuits, and then start the circuit again (eight rounds of 20 seconds work, 10 seconds rest between exercises).
To get you started, here’s a 22-minute workout with four bodyweight moves.
- Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart.
- Lower down as if you’re going to sit on a chair.
- Once your knees are at a 90-degree angle, stand up.
- Repeat this movement as fast as you can for 20 seconds. Rest for 10 seconds before the next exercise.
Take it up a notch: If you need something a little more, do jump squats. The only difference: Instead of standing back up to the start, you’ll jump up. Land softly on your two feet, and then repeat the pattern.
- Stand tall with your feet together.
- Jump your feet out and bring your arms up over your head.
- Continue this jumping motion for 20 seconds. Rest for 10 seconds before the next exercise.
BOSU Ball Sit-ups
- Grab a BOSU ball. If you don’t have a BOSU, you can use a foam roller.
- Lie down on the ball or foam roller with your butt just below the center.
- Bring your arms past your head so your palms touch the floor.
- Engage your core, tuck your chin in, and sit up. Bring your arms up over your head and have them touch the floor as you sit up.
- Lie back down and repeat the movement for 20 seconds. Rest for 10 seconds before the next exercise.
- Begin in a plank position: hands a little wider than your shoulders, core engaged, and feet extended back.
- Lower down, but keep your body straight. Once your arms bend to 90 degrees, push back up.
- Repeat for 20 seconds.
Push-up Modification: If traditional push-ups cause any pain or your arms begin to tire out, get on your knees and continue the same movement.
Rest for 60 seconds before starting the circuit again. Repeat circuit for a total of eight times (or as many circuits you can perform without sacrificing good form).