What Is Tabata? • Get The Best Tabata Workout!

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“I don’t have time to train.”

“I don’t have a gym membership.”

“I don’t have access to fitness equipment.”

These are oft-uttered reasons why people cannot work out.

Here’s a solution: Tabata interval training!

Tabata workouts can be done with just body weight (meaning, there’s no need to purchase expensive equipment). And, they’re specifically engineered to require very little time. It can only take 15 minutes to complete a whole Tabata workout– or even less time! 

What is Tabata interval training?

Tabata interval training style was developed by Dr. Tabata in 1996. The individual works at maximum intensity for 20 seconds, followed by 10 seconds of rest for 8 rounds.

Dr. Tabata found that his subjects doing this style of training, 5 days a week for 6 weeks, resulted in a 28% increase in anaerobic and 14% increase in aerobic fitness. These results were quite ground breaking and, since then Tabata (and other High Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT) exercises have found a place in mainstream fitness for beginners as well as professional athletes.

What Are The Tabata Benefits?

This goes back to our opening paragraph—many people have tortured the excuse that time for training is nowhere to be found. Tabata exercises put an end to it.

A study at Auburn University found…

that it would take 20 minutes of normal cardio (i.e. a brisk walk) to burn the equivalent amount of calories in a four minute Tabata workout.

Now you’re listening?

While the benefits and results are best achieved by going “all-out” (your most strenuous and/or fastest) during the work period, Tabata training allows you to work up to that intensity based on time, not repetitions. While you may not notice results within the first few weeks, you will likely see benefits by incorporating Tabata training into your regular workout routine.

What Is “All-Out” And Are You Reaching It?

To fully execute the intensity required to reap the benefits of Tabata interval training, you must work at 75% of your maximum heart rate or above. You can instantly access this number if you have a heart rate monitor. To calculate 75% of your maximum heart rate:

220-your age = HRmax
HRmax x .75 = 75% of your HRmax

If you don’t have a heart rate monitor then you can use the “talk test.” For Tabata, you should be working at an intensity where it is impossible to carry on a conversation. If you can talk, you aren’t working hard enough.


It is difficult to maintain proper form at such a high intensity (that’s the point!). Make sure you choose exercises that you know how to do properly. Form is more important than anything else when exercising. It’s important to take the time to learn the functional aspect of a movement before jumping in (literally and figuratively).

Total Body Tabata Workout In 15 Minutes

This is how it works:

  • Exercises per Tabata set = 2
  • Duration of each exercise = 20 seconds
  • Rest (after each exercise) = 10 seconds
  • Sets = 3

Here is an example of a Tabata workout:

  • 20 seconds exercise #1
  • 10 seconds pause
  • 20 seconds exercise #2
  • 10 seconds pause
  • Repeat this set 4 times to complete a Tabata workout (4 minutes in total for one Tabata set). Rest for 1 total minute between each set.

This Tabata workout consists of three full Tabata sets (four minutes each). To make this workout 15 minutes, the rest between each Tabata set should be one minute. If you need more time to rest, recover and catch your breath – go for it! But, the total rest time should be no more than three minutes between sets.

Tabata 1

1. 4-Count-Burpees

How to do this exercise: 

To do a 4-Count Burpee, begin in a standing position. Jump into a Squat and put your hands on the ground. Now jump your feet back into a High Plank position. Keep your hands directly under your shoulders. The core is engaged. Keep your hips in line with the shoulders when in the Plank position. Avoid sinking hips when jumping back into the plank. 

2. Flat Out Burpee Tuck Jumps

Tabata 2

3. Push-up Side Planks

How to do this exercise:

Start in a plank position with your hands in line and slightly wider than your shoulders. Keep the core engaged. Do a push-up. Then, move in a Side Plank position by rolling onto your left hand and reaching the right hand to the sky. Then, repeat the movement on the opposite side. Return to start. 

4. Jumping Jacks

How to do this exercise:

For a jumping jack, start standing with palms at your sides, legs together. Bend knees slightly. Then, jump the feet to the sides. At the same time, circle the arms laterally and then overhead. Bonus: ensure that the fingers touch overhead. Jump back in to return to start, arms by your sides. 

5. Up Downs

How to do this exercise: 

Begin up downs in a high plank position. Move into a forearm plank position by lowering one elbow at a time to the ground. Keep hands and elbows directly under shoulders at all times. The core is engaged. Keep hips still and square to the ground during the movement. Complete the movement by returning to a high plank position, one hand at a time.

6. Jump Squats

How to do this exercise: 

For jump squats, keep the feet around hip-width distance (your normal squat position). Engage your core and jump up. Land with soft knees into the next loaded squat position.

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