I remember quite a few years ago when all anyone talked about was this so called ‘Tabata’ method of training. It’s part of my job and lifestyle to keep up with the fitness industry from the perspective of being an instructor, an active individual and more recently, being a Management and Business Innovation MSc student with an interest in fitness.
One thing I came to a stark realisation about after attending Elevate London in 2018, was that there is never really anything totally new on the scene and the same could be said about Tabata. Tabata is simply just a variation of HIIT training (High Intensity Interval Training) invented by Dr. Izumi Tabata in 1996. This type of high-intensity training is fun, blasts calories, burns fat and moves so quickly it’s hard to get bored! You can also do these tabata workouts at home… or wherever you are!
The Structure of Tabata
The basic structure of a Tabata workout is simple. To start with you pick one exercise which is performed for 20 seconds with a 10 second rest. You repeat this pattern a total of eight times, making one Tabata round four minutes. The exercise need to be performed at maximal intensity (anaerobic) though… you need to need the 10 seconds to recover, you get me?!
From here, you can “stack” the rounds focusing on different areas with one minute rest between each 4 minutes (e.g 3 x 4 minute rounds with 1 minute rest = 14 mins).
For the past 5 or 6 years I’ve been using the very same Gymboss Interval Timer for Tabata workouts and more. I swear it’s the best money I’ve spent and I’ve only needed to change the battery after about 4 years! There are probably a ton of free apps you can download now for your phone to do timings for you… let me know in the comments if there is one you recommend.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that you can exercise for 4 minutes, 3 times per week and need not do anything else! The biggest gains are seen when this is used in conjunction with your regular training. It’s the perfect ‘finisher’ for a bootcamp or class, just add 1 or 2 rounds to ensure you’ve worked your hardest!
Tabata Workouts At Home
Here are a few rounds you can try at home with no equipment needed:
Cycle 1: jumping jacks, mountain climbers
Cycle 2: burpees, ski jumps
Cycle 3: high knee runs, alternating backward lunges
Cycle 4: bicycle crunch, toe touches
Cycle 5: squat jumps, froggers
Cycle 6: lateral hops, knee tucks
Mixing up each 4 minute round with two exercises can help to eliminate boredom. Alternate through the two exercises and I’m pretty certain it makes the time go waaaay faster. For example, cycle 2 would look like this:
- ski jumps (1 minute total)
- ski jumps (2 minutes total)
- ski jumps (3 minutes total)
- ski jumps (4 minutes total)
If you have equipment available then here is another workout you can try:
- Cycle 1: wall balls
- Cycle 2: sumo deadlift high pull
- Cycle 3: box jumps (you can also use a step)
- Cycle 4: push presses
- Cycle 5: kettlebell swings
With a warm up, cool down and recovery time added this workout should take around 30 – 40 minutes.
Tabata is great for any level of fitness as it’s a time based workout. This means you work as hard as you can in the time given. As you gain fitness, you’ll be able to work harder / do more reps in the same time. The combinations of exercises are endless for building a workout. Don’t make your session too long though as you’re meant to work hard and we can’t do that for too long without compromising form.
Let me know if you give any of these workout ideas a go!
P.S Safety always comes first. If you are new to exercise ensure you seek advice from your GP. Make sure you drink plenty of fluids, wear appropriate clothing and carry out drills in a suitable space. Technique is paramount, and nothing should hurt. Should you experience pain, discomfort, nausea, dizziness, chest pain, shortness of breath etc, STOP and consult your GP.