Tabata training

What is Tabata Training?

Tabata training is a form of high intensity interval training first investigated by the Japanese scientist Professor Izumi Tabata. The first few studies were primarily aimed at enhancing sport performance in athletes using short interval training sessions on a stationary bicycle. Every training consisted of eight 20 second sprints on a stationary bicycle at very high intensity alternated with resting periods of 10 seconds. After the training period endurance (maximal oxygen uptake) increased to a larger extend in the Tabata interval training group, despite the workouts being much shorter, compared with a group that performed regular modrate intensity endurance training for 60 minutes each training.1 Ever since that study, the Tabata interval training protocol has become very popular and is increasingly used to help (professional) athletes get fitter and help people lose weight.

Why is it effective?

Tabata training is an interval training at a very high intensity. This exhausts muscles quickly and gives off a strong signal to adapt quickly to the high training intensity. The body improves fat metabolism which helps it burn more fat more easily during everyday living. In addition, more carbohydrates will be stored inside the muscles to supply them with fast energy when it’s needed instead of storing those carbohydrates in fat stores.2,3 All these adaptations make losing weight and burning fat easier.

How do I do Tabata training?

A Tabata interval training consists of eight 20 second high intensity intervals each followed by a 10 second rest period. In total a Tabata interval training takes four minutes. When one Tabata interval training is no longer challenging enough you can do multiple rounds of Tabata training. The original Tabata training protocol was performed on a stationary bicycle, however many other forms of exercise are suitable. The most important criterion is that the 20 second high intensity intervals are very tiring to exhausting. Underneath are several examples of what an effective Tabata workout can look like.











8x 20 seconds of all out sprinting

8x 10 seconds walking

Bodyweight Exercises:Tabata burpee
8x 20 seconds of Burpees

8x 10 seconds of rest

Kettlebell exercises:

Tabata Kettlebell swing







8x 20 seconds of Kettlebell Swings

8x 10 seconds of rest


  1. Tabata, I., Nishimura, K., Kouzaki, M., Hirai, Y., Ogita, F., Miyachi, M., Yamamoto, K. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 1996 ,28,10, 1327-30.
  2. Boutcher, S.H. High Intensity Intermittent Exercise and Fat Loss. Journal of Obesity, 2011 1-10.
  3. Tabata, I., Irisawa, K., Kouzaki, M., Nishimura, K., Ogita, F., Miyachi, M. Metabolic Profile of High Intensity Intermittent Exercises. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 1997, 29, 3, 390-395.