Tabata Workout: What Is It and How Does It Work?

Tabata Workout: What Is It and How Does It Work?

Authored by Marshall on January 24, 2023

Got 20 minutes? That’s all the time you need to try this ultra intensive and effective workout favored by Olympians. Fair warning: When we say that the Tabata workout is intense, we mean intense. Tabata exercises are intended only for very experienced, physically fit athletes to try. If that’s you, great! You will find Tabata challenging for sure, but you’ll absolutely see results and grow as an athlete. 

Not sure if you’re experienced enough to try Tabata training? Have a chat with your fitness coach. They’ll be able to point you in the right direction. If Tabata is too advanced right now, you will be able to work your way up to that level by engaging in other high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts. 

What Is Tabata Training?

Before we get into specifics, let’s focus on Tabata’s meaning. 

The name “Tabata” comes from its creator, Dr. Izumi Joseph Tabata. Dr. Tabata developed this technique in the ‘90s after working extensively with the Olympic speed skating team in Japan. In fact, while Dr. Tabata popularized the fitness method, he actually credits its discovery to the team’s coach at the time, Koichi Irisawa. 

Whomever the credit goes to for this invention, the protocol is the same. Each four-minute rep consists of eight short but incredibly powerful reps of highly intensive exercise. This is repeated four times, lasting twenty minutes overall. 

How Does Tabata Training Work?

Tabata training is so effective because of how your body reacts as it recovers from the intensity of your workout. Much of this revolves around excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). After an intensive workout, your body will recover by producing more oxygen and consuming extra calories for a short spell. This means that for a while, even though you are no longer exercising, your body will still be in calorie-burning workout mode. The intensive and fast nature of Tabata exercises means that your EPOC levels will be higher after less time, making it a super efficient way to see results. 

Working Out With Tabata: Benefits and Downsides

There are lots of Tabata benefits that athletes love! However, as we mentioned previously, this form of workout might be too intense for some. Here are some of the most important benefits of Tabata exercises, plus a few downsides to consider before jumping in.


  • It’s Quick

Do you lead a super busy life? Don’t worry. You can still smash an Olympic-level workout and stick to your packed schedule. Since Tabata training only requires 20 minutes of your day, you can easily fit it in between engagements. Just make sure you’ve carved out some time for a post-sesh shower too.

  • It’s Efficient

Tabata is so fast, it even makes HIIT seem like a lengthy workout. For folks who would like to fit the most exercise into the shortest time frame, a Tabata workout might be your key to happiness. 

  • It’s Portable

Like many HIIT workouts, Tabata doesn’t require you to use special equipment to perform—though you certainly can. This makes it an ideal on-the-go workout. You can do it anywhere: the beach, a hotel room, or even your break room!

  • It’s Flexible

You can design your own Tabata workout based on what types of exercise and equipment you prefer to work with. Tabata can be easily customized, making it appealing to lots of athletes and coaches alike. 

  • It Delivers Huge Results

Having been developed by an Olympic coach, Tabata exercises unsurprisingly offer massive results. Despite the challenge of mastering such an intense workout, athletes are grateful for its ability to deliver!

  • It’s Satisfying

Finishing a workout as intense as Tabata is highly rewarding, even for the most practiced athlete. Nothing feels better than success!


  • It’s Very Intense

Not everybody enjoys or is physically able to perform exercises at the level of Tabata. That is completely understandable. There’s a reason this workout was developed for Olympians and not casual athletes. Even practiced athletes might find that the grueling nature of a Tabata workout is too much for them. No worries—there are lots of other great ways to see significant results!

  • It’s Not Very Beginner-Friendly

Tabata is not for newbies. If you are not used to intensive exercise, we recommend starting with HIIT before trying a Tabata workout. It’s also ideal to begin this new routine with professional help. Your fitness coach will make sure that you are nailing it. 

  • It Comes With Risks

Inexperienced athletes or folks with certain medical conditions may put themselves at risk when performing a Tabata workout, especially without the help of a coach. If you have any cardiac-related issues or are recovering from a condition or injury, it’s best to consult your doctor before engaging in such intense exercise. They will help determine if Tabata is right for you, and if so, the best ways to proceed. 

Tabata workout

How To Do Tabata Training

So, how can you try Tabata training yourself? 

Athletes perform an incredibly intense workout for twenty seconds. This is performed with maximum effort and exertion. Then, they rest for exactly ten seconds and repeat the same workout again eight times. This four-minute set is a rep. Four of these complete a Tabata circuit. Overall, you’ll be working out for twenty minutes. It may sound simple, but trust us when we say you will be exhausted when those twenty minutes are up!  

One more thing. We know that this workout is especially appealing to busy athletes who want an effective workout in a short window of time. However, we highly recommend taking a little extra time to engage in proper cool down stretches after you practice Tabata exercises or any type of high-intensity interval training.

Try a Tabata Workout at Jack City Fitness

At Jack City Fitness, our team has extensive experience with all types of HIIT exercises, including Tabata training. Our coaches are happy to work one-on-one with enthusiastic athletes who’d like to prepare for a Tabata workout. We also offer our Partners 24/7 use of our equipment, a selection of heart-pumping classes, and the most results-oriented atmosphere in Boise. We’re here to help you reach all your goals and continuously grow as an athlete. 

Call (208) 999-1111 today to speak to our team and schedule a FREE fitness consultation and tour of our facility. We can’t wait to meet you and help you smash your goals! 



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