Press up in a Tabata workout

Tabata is quite a simple concept used to increase the intensity of your workout.  One round of Tabata lasts for just 4 minutes.  Each round is made up of eight 20 second high intensity bursts with 10 seconds recovery between each.  Dr Izumi Tabata (hence the name) performed a study of short intense bursts of exercise.  His team found that short periods of high intensity exercise had similar benefits to much longer periods of sustained exercise, such as jogging, cycling and yoga.  Great news for anyone who wants to get seriously fit in a short space of time.  HIIT classes now commonly incorporate several rounds of Tabata, with 2 minutes rest between rounds, building up to a 45 minute class.  Make sure you warm up and cool down properly.

The good news is you don’t need to go to a formal timetabled class to benefit from Tabata.  In its simplest form it might only involve one exercise, like a press up or a bodyweight squat.  Do as many reps as you can in 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds, and repeat eight times to complete the four minute workout.  However, it can be so much more depending on space, equipment and skill level.  Cleans, thrusters, throwing, jumping and sprinting variations can all be used to increase the challenge and the variety.


  1. Great results in a short space of time.
  2. Seriously challenging – if you are the sort of person that wants to test yourself to the max in a workout, then this is for you. The aim is to work at 90% of your max heart rate.
  3. It can be performed just about anywhere – if you are in a quiet gym, why not put 8 different weight training moves into your workout. On holiday and want a workout?  Go with bodyweight exercises.  Either way the idea is to push yourself hard and get results.
  4. It can be used to develop both aerobic and anaerobic capacity.
  5. A session can be designed to target the whole body with a range of 4 minute circuits, moving the focus for each round to hit a different body part.
  6. It brings variety to your training to keep you interested and motivated. A motivated person will drive their own performance.
  7. The short period of work means you can really push yourself knowing the end is just around the corner. Push your limits and generate the change that most people are searching for.
  8. It builds muscle, burns fat, and can help generate EPOC to keep blasting the calories for hours after the workout has finished.

Check out this clip from the Fittest Man on Earth 2016, Matt Fraser, on Tabata and Crossfit.

We would also recommend downloading the Runtastic Timer App so you can set up your Tabata sessions without the need to constantly keep one eye on the clock.

Featured image from