Tabata: Fit In Just 4 Minutes With Tabata Training

Only 4 minutes of workout are enough with Tabata training to push your fitness optimally. Why high-intensity interval training is so effective, how it works, and what exercises are available?

Not everyone wants to sweat in the gym for 60 minutes or more several times a week. For those who are short on time but still want a toned body, Tabata training is the way to go.

Your time investment with Tabata: four minutes in which you go full throttle. With a nice side effect that you burn fat and build muscle at the same time.

What is Tabata?

Tabata is a high-intensity interval training and thus a variant of HIIT training (High-Intensity Interval Training).

Here’s how the training method works: short periods of extreme exertion alternate with even shorter rests. A Tabata lasts only 4 minutes in total and consists of 8 intervals.

Each interval consists of:

  • 20 seconds of peak power
  • 10 seconds of recovery

This rapid alternation boosts fat burning extremely – but only if you really push yourself to the limit physically.

4 reasons to try Tabata

  • Tabata burns fat
  • Tabata helps build muscle
  • Tabata saves time
  • Tabata is versatile

Tabata melts fat

In contrast to classic endurance training, Tabatas are the ultimate fat-melter, because they provide a significant after-burn effect because the basal metabolic rate (i.e. the calorie consumption during the day) increases and is maintained for 12 to 24 hours.

Put simply, the stress on the body during the 4 minutes is so high that a lot of energy continues to be burned afterward – ideal for losing weight.

The intensive short units train the entire cardiovascular system and improve the performance of endurance, strength, and team athletes.

Why is Tabata’s training so effective?

Japanese sports scientist Izumi Tabata (hence the name) conducted a study in 1996 that examined the effects of moderate endurance training and high-intensity interval training.

The result of the study proved the enormous benefits of Tabata for performance enhancement in top athletes.

This is also confirmed by Patrick Grewe, fitness and nutrition coach from Hamburg: “Four minutes of intense Tabata workout are just as effective as an hour of sweating on the cross trainer.”

Tabata Training Improves Your Endurance

Scientific studies showed no significant differences in improving oxygen uptake and endurance performance when comparing Tabata training and 60 minutes of moderate endurance training.

On the contrary, Tabata training significantly improves maximum oxygen uptake, or VO2 max, per minute. This means your body takes in more oxygen during exercise and transports it via the blood to muscle cells, which can now utilize a greater percentage.

Tabata increases both aerobic and anaerobic endurance performance.

Tabata workout: instructions

When doing a Tabata workout at home, you can make it a pure bodyweight workout without any equipment. Alternatively, you can use additional equipment such as dumbbells, TRX sling trainers, or kettlebells.

During a Tabata workout, you can combine different exercises or repeat the same exercise over all eight intervals.

When and how often should I do Tabata?

Since a Tabata session is very short, it can be a good way to end an endurance workout.

If you’re only going to do Tabata, don’t forget to warm up and warm down.

For example, your workout can look like this: Warm Up (5 to 10 minutes), eight times of maximum load (20 seconds) alternating with recovery (10 seconds rest), and Cool Down (5 minutes).

The optimal for a positive training effect is 3 to 4 Tabata units per week.

What are the Tabata exercises?

With Tabata, pretty much everything is allowed: fitness exercises with equipment or with your own body weight, to build strength or cardio workouts. Which exercises you choose depends on your training goal.

Do you want to improve your endurance?

Sprint intervals are great for increasing stamina – for example, sprinting in place, jumping rope, high knees, knee ups, mountain climbers, and burpees.

Want to burn fat?

These exercises for the gym or at home serve as fat burners and strengthen your cardiovascular system: jumping rope, burpees, froggers, split jumps, jumping jacks, and squat jumps.

Do you want to build muscles?

These Tabata exercises will make your muscles grow: Lunges and Squats with weights, Crunch, Plank, Push-ups, and Trizep Dips.

Tip: For the greatest training effect, do eleven to 15 repetitions in the 20 seconds before the next rest.

“Tabatas can be done with all common exercises, the only important thing is that they work as large muscle groups as possible, such as the leg muscles – otherwise the afterburn effect is lower and the result less effective,” says Patrick Grewe, fitness and nutrition coach.

Where can I find Tabata music?

Music is pure motivation and helps you to really step on the gas during your workout. Studies at Brunel University in England proved that music arouses positive emotions and makes you perform better.

A study at the Lerner Research Institute in Cleveland even confirms an increase in performance of a whopping 20 percent!

Tabata Playlists and Apps

You can find numerous Tabata playlists on YouTube. In the App Store and on Google Play, there are various Tabata apps that support you with fast beats and timers during your workout, so you don’t have to constantly look at the clock.

Because the time factor is crucial, the music here is specifically tailored to the intervals and rest periods.

So, headphones on and beats on. Advantage of the apps: A trainer counts down to one, starts the exercise with “Go!”, announces the breaks, and tells you which round you’re currently in – that helps with perseverance.

What should I pay attention to during Tabata’s training?

  • Don’t overdo it!

If you have a good level of fitness, give Tabata a try. You are a beginner? Then start with a less intense workout. 2.

  • increase the tempo slowly

Limit yourself to one Tabata workout at the beginning. This way you don’t overload your body and get used to the new principle of High-Intensity Interval Training.

  • time yourself

Use a watch with a second display to keep interval times or ask someone to stop for you so you can fully concentrate on your interval training. It’s easier with a Tabata app.

  • Start the day with Tabata

If you exercise before breakfast, your body will burn a higher percentage of fat and you’ll rev up your metabolism first thing in the morning. The effect? You burn more calories throughout the day. If you can’t tolerate exercise on an empty stomach, treat yourself to a small energy booster beforehand, such as a banana.

  • finish your workout with Tabata

Tip four does not apply if you have another workout planned for the day. In that case, the intense workout belongs at the very end. Otherwise, you will have no strength left for further efforts.

  • don’t get bored

Keep trying new fitness exercises – that’s how you bring variety into your workout.

Conclusion: Tabata for fast fitness

Short, crisp, kilo-eaters: Tabata will get you in top shape fast. You don’t have to become a jock right away. But if you do a Tabata workout three to four times a week, you’ll quickly feel fat turning into muscle.

And you’ll do it without any equipment, just using your body.

Tip: Try to go to your personal performance limit. If you only manage a few repetitions of an exercise at the beginning, that’s okay for a beginner, but increases from time to time.

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Written by Bella Adams

I'm a professionally-trained, executive chef with over ten years in Restaurant Culinary and hospitality management. Experienced in specialized diets, including Vegetarian, Vegan, Raw foods, whole food, plant-based, allergy-friendly, farm-to-table, and more. Outside of the kitchen, I write about lifestyle factors that impact well-being.

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