Tabata: what exercises are most effective

Tabata: what exercises are most effective

15. 2. 2021 9 min. reading

Interval training for men and women that you really enjoy and you'll see results almost immediately? Get along with tabata.

Are you tired of same repetitive workouts over and over again? Are you wondering how to diversify your exercise plan? Then this article is written for you.

What is Tabata?

Tabata is actually a form of HIIT (high intensity interval training) and is one of the most demanding trainings. This is not a classic continuous longer exercise, but an exercise during relatively short intervals alternating with pauses. The tabata lesson includes a total of 8 rounds. One round lasts 4 minutes and consists of 8 intervals of 20/10. You push really hard for 20 seconds, then you have a break for 10 seconds. One round is followed by a longer pause: 1 minute. What exercises are most effective? Any easy-to-do cardio movements you can do at high intensity and fast pace. Alternatively, you can also compose a strength tabata, a combination of cardio + strength exetrcises, or a tabata core (tabata focused on your core muscles), etc. There are many combinations, it only depends on you how you adjust your training according to your goal. Tabata lasts about 30 minutes without warm-up and cool-down, depending on how long pauses you take during each round. Definitely do not forget to warm up well before exercise and stretch for a few minutes after exercise.

History of Tabata

Tabata is named after its discoverer - the Japanese doctor Izumi Tabata. In his scientific study, he was looking for the type of training that is most effective in increasing aerobic and anaerobic capacity. He studied 2 training groups for six weeks. The first research group trained for 60 minutes 5 times a week on a bicycle ergometer. The second research group also trained on a bicycle ergometer, but this time in the form of high-intensity intervals: 7-8 laps of 20/10 (20 seconds at full speed, rest for 10 seconds). The second group completed training 5-6 times a week. And the result? In the first group, there was an increase in VO2max of 5 ml / kg.min, but no significant increase in anaerobic capacity was observed. In contrast, the second research group increased VO2max by 7ml / kg.min and anaerobic capacity by as much as 28%. The results show that tabata increases both aerobic and anaerobic capacity.

The Most Effective Fat Burner?

Tabata is often referred as number one in connection with fat burning and thus weight loss. There are many studies that deal with this topic. Although the results show a slightly greater reduction in fat compared to LISS cardio (low intensity steady state, or slower cardio performed over a long period of time), it is necessary to look at the whole thing more comprehensively. Tabata has a far greater effect on increasing fitness. Also keep in mind that this type of exercise is difficult to regenerate. The intervals are short, the whole exercise takes less time than classic training, but it is very demanding for your body. It is advisable to combine tabata with other types of training, such as strength training or to include LISS cardio.

Can I Handle Tabata?

Despite the physical demands of tabata, there is no need to worry, even a complete beginner can handle it. You don''t have to train all 8 rounds during the first lessons. It is advisable to start with 5 rounds, for example, and then gradually increase to the final 8 rounds. You can also choose a variant of 2 exercises per round, while one exercise will always be more challenging than the second one. It is essential to always push really hard during exercise interval, always within your physical capabilities. You can also take a break between rounds for more than a minute with a beginner's tabata - for example 2-3 minutes.

Benefits of Tabata

  • A new impulse for your muscles
  • Exercise is fun and completely different from classic training
  • Leaching of endorphins (hormones of happiness)
  • Variety of trainings
  • A great addition to an already set exercise plan to improve training results
  • You can train without or only with a minimum of exercise equipment
  • Suitable for home workout
  • Less time-consuming than classic trainings lasting an hour or longer - ideal in the absence of time
  • Rapid increase in fitness (with cardio tabata)
  • Intervals can also be used for strength training, core training, butt / abs, etc. - a wide range of uses

What You Need for Tabata

Great answer = almost nothing! Undoubtedly, a huge advantage of tabata is the possibility to exercise only with your own weight or a minimum of exercise equipment. Even so, the training will still be just as effective. You can do most of the exercises with your own weight. For making your training more varied, you can include, for example, a skipping rope, barbell or kettlebell.
But what you definitely need for tabata is a timer or tabata songs. The timer can be downloaded to both a computer and a mobile phone (for Android and iOS). Then you just set the number of intervals according to taste and need. There are also so-called tabata songs: specially adapted songs that contain a timer. During the song, it tells you when your interval begins and when it ends. For example, you can find songs on YouTube. We highly recommend trying it out, on the one hand you don't have to deal with downloading timers, and on the other hand tabata songs are super lively and motivating. And when it comes to tabata, put everything you've got into it.

So before training, just put on your favorite fitness shoes, put on some nice and comfortable clothes, turn on the music and go for it!

Tabata Training

Before the tabata itself, it is advisable to include a short 5-minute warm-up (for example, free running, hopps, rope skipping), followed by 8-10-minute dynamic stretching. Choose stretching based on your tabata exercises, so that you can thoroughly prepare your muscles for great performance. Do not miss the warm-up under any circumstances. The body has to be prepared for training. You prevent possible injuries, plus you enjoy your training more. Once you are warmed up and stretched enough, you can jump on the tabata training itself.

Choose the number of rounds according to your performance level. Beginner - 5 rounds, if you sport regularly for a long time, you can easily set all 8 rounds. Need advice on which exercises to choose? Continue with the article below.

After training, don't forget to cool-down in the form of a light jog on the spot / outdoors, free jumping on the spot / over a skipping rope, or similar light cardio activities. This is followed by thorough stretching, or foam rolling.
Don't forget to drink enough during the whole training.

Tabata Tips

Cardio tabata

  • 1. round – jumping jacks
  • 2. round – burpees
  • 3. round – jumping squats
  • 4. round – bicycles
  • 5. round – rope skipping / jumps on the spot
  • 6. round – mountain climbers
  • 7. round – jumping lunges
  • 8. round  -  sprint on the spot

Tabata - combination of two exercises in one round (suitable for beginners)

  • 1. round – high knees / heels touches
  • 2. round - burpees / dumbbell or kettlebell press
  • 3. round - sprint on the spot / glute bridges
  • 4. round - box on the spot with dumbbell / cross v-ups
  • 5. round - high jumps / push-ups
  • 6. round - box step-ups / russian twists
  • 7. round-  sumo jumping squats / toes touches
  • 8. round - jumping jacks / lunges

Strength tabata

  • 1. round - deadlift
  • 2. round - swing
  • 3. round - push press
  • 4. round - weighted sit-ups
  • 5. round - goblet squat
  • 6. round - push-ups
  • 7. round - ground to overhead
  • 8. round - sumo deadlift high pull

Core tabata

  • 1. round - burpees
  • 2. round - prkno on elbows, hips twists
  • 3. round - front rack carry walk
  • 4. round - v–ups
  • 5. round - side bends with kettlebell / dumbbell
  • 6. round - sit-ups with straight legs
  • 7. round - jumping rope
  • 8. round - hollow hold

Few tips

Tabata is an ideal addition to your previous workout plan. It is good to combine different types of exercises during the week. For example: 2-3 times a week strength training, 1-2 times a week tabata, 1-2 times a week running or other continuous cardio. Don''t forget rest days. You don't have to be completely motionless, you can include walking, hiking, swimming, etc. Of course, don't forget about a healthy lifestyle.
Now you know how to start with tabata properly, or how to adjust this fun, but still very demanding exercise within your abilities and needs. We believe that you'll enjoy the high-intensity training as much as we do. The reward can be not only a good feeling, but also improving sports performance and achieved goals.


  • BURGOMASTER, Kirsten A., Krista R. HOWARTH, Stuart M. PHILLIPS, Mark RAKOBOWCHUK, Maureen J. MACDONALD, Sean L. MCGEE a Martin J. GIBALA. Similar metabolic adaptations during exercise after low volume sprint interval and traditional endurance training in humans. The Journal of Physiology [online]. 2008, 586(1), 151-160 [cit. 2021-02-10]. ISSN 00223751. Dostupné z: doi:10.1113/jphysiol.2007.142109
  • MILANOVIĆ, Zoran, Goran SPORIŠ a Matthew WESTON. Effectiveness of High-Intensity Interval Training (HIT) and Continuous Endurance Training for VO2max Improvements: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Controlled Trials. Sports Medicine [online]. 2015, 45(10), 1469-1481 [cit. 2021-02-10]. ISSN 0112-1642. Dostupné z: doi:10.1007/s40279-015-0365-0
  • TABATA, IZUMI, KOUJI NISHIMURA, MOTOKI KOUZAKI, YUUSUKE HIRAI, FUTOSHI OGITA, MOTOHIKO MIYACHI a KAORU YAMAMOTO. Effects of moderate-intensity endurance and high-intensity intermittent training on anaerobic capacity and ??VO2max. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise [online]. 1996, 28(10), 1327-1330 [cit. 2021-02-10]. ISSN 0195-9131. Dostupné z: doi:10.1097/00005768-199610000-00018
  • TABATA, IZUMI, KOUICHI IRISAWA, MOTOKI KOUZAKI, KOUJI NISHIMURA, FUTOSHI OGITA a MOTOHIKO MIYACHI. Metabolic profile of high intensity intermittent exercises. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise [online]. 1997, 29(3), 390-395 [cit. 2021-02-10]. ISSN 0195-9131. Dostupné z: doi:10.1097/00005768-199703000-00015