Fat loss comes down to maintaining a calorie deficit and regular strength training routine. If you do these 2 things consistently you will lose weight over time.
However, sometimes you want to give things a little boost and lose fat at the quickest rate you can without sacrificing your health or your results.
This is where HIIT training, and more specifically Tabata training, comes into play. As you’ll see in this article, Tabata is an incredibly effective way of not only burning fat but also rapidly improving fitness.
Better yet Tabata can be done anywhere, anytime with no equipment needed. All of this combines to make it the perfect choice for anyone looking to burn fat and get fit fast.
To understand this, we must go back to 1996 and to two men, Dr Izumi Tabata, a professor at the Faculty of Sport and Health Science at Ritsumeikan University in Japan and the head coach of the Japanese speed skating team.
These two men were interested in whether short bursts of high-intensity exercise, followed by short rests and then repeated (what is now referred to as high-intensity interval training or HIIT) would improve skater’s performance when compared to steady-state cardio.
To test this idea Dr Izumi Tabata took 2 groups of athletes and trained them 5 days a week for a total of 6 weeks;
At the end of the 6 weeks Dr Tabata discovered (1);
Aerobic capacity is the duration you can sustain exercise i.e. how long you can cycle continuously for and anaerobic capacity is how long you can sustain maximum effort exercise i.e. how long you can sprint for.
To put this into context, this means the group that did Tabata training could work harder for longer compared to those who did ‘regular’ cardio training.
More than this, group 1 trained for a total of 300 minutes a week, whereas group 2 only trained for 88 minutes per week (not including a 10-minute warm-up). So, not only did group 2 get better results, but they got these results in a fraction of the time.
Pretty great right.
Tabata is performed in rounds. For 4 minutes you perform 8 rounds of 20 seconds of max-effort work followed by 10 seconds of rest.
It doesn’t sound like much but when done properly it’s highly effective. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean you can do 4 minutes of exercise and be done with it. There are 2 reasons you may want to do more than 4 minutes when Tabata training
This doesn’t mean you need to perform like an Olympic athlete in order to see progress. In fact, studies (2) have replicated Dr Tabata’s results with individuals described as “recreationally active” using exercises like burpees and squat thrusts.
This means getting results using Tabata training is not about training like an Olympian, but training to your max effort and improving from there.
The reason it is so common to find Tabata sessions lasting between 30 – 60 minutes is because most people train hard but not at their maximum which leaves you with energy to do multiple rounds using different exercises.
As you know by now a Tabata workout is broken into 4 minutes rounds with every 4 minutes following the same format of max-effort work for 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds of complete rest repeated 8 times.
Traditionally Tabata would be done for a total of 4 minutes. However, more exercises can be added to create a longer workout. The only adjust you need to make to the format is to add a minute of rest between exercises. For example;
Each Tabata workout should begin with a 10-minute warm-up that gets your blood pumping, your heart beating and your body warm and mobile. This is very important for preparing yourself for exercise and avoiding injury.
At the end of each workout, you want to cool down by gently walking or cycling to lower your heart rate before doing a full-body stretch, foam rolling or yoga.
Just like they did it in 1996 this is an intense 4-minute sprint workout that can be done on in several different ways;
Whatever you pick, go all-out for 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds and repeat 8 times over for a fat burning, fitness improving workout.
The bodyweight Tabata is perfect for when you want to do a home workout with no equipment or cannot get into a gym when travelling.
The format is the same and you can add or remove exercises to suit your needs and preferences.
If you’re looking to build full-body strength and endurance, then the weightlifting Tabata may very well be what you’re after.
When doing a weightlifting Tabata the intensity stays high but the speed at which you complete your reps slows down to allow you to focus on good form, particularly as you begin to tire. You should also aim to use a weight lighter than you would normally use. Don’t ego lift here.
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If you’re looking to push your cardio limits and get fit fast, then the cardio-based Tabata is for you. Each exercise has been chosen for its ability to work your heart and lungs.
Again, the format is the same and you can adjust the type or number of exercises depending on what you need.
Including slams, twists, throws and jumps, the functional Tabata is a hybrid of training methods to improve your fitness, strength and endurance.
Like with the weightlifting Tabata you want to pay attention to your form, particularly as you get tired. Aim to use a weight lighter than you would normally use.
Designed specifically with boxers in mind, this Tabata will train the energy systems and muscles you need to up your footwork, work rate and performance in the ring.
There are many, many exercises you could use here. The aim is to try and pick things that train the same muscles or movement patterns you’d use in the ring or training as well as improve overall fitness and endurance.
A full upper body workout designed to improve strength and endurance using a mix of weighted and bodyweight movements.
This type of Tabata will also be tough as you move from one upper body exercise to the next. However, by mixing the muscle groups and doing the smaller muscles last you should find it easier to maintain momentum through the workout.
A complete and gruelling lower body workout designed to improve strength and endurance using a mix of weighted and bodyweight exercises;
This type of Tabata will also be tough as you move from one lower body exercise to the next. Like the above, you can try and alternate between more strength-focused and more endurance-focused exercises to keep the momentum.
Tabata is a highly effective form of HIIT training developed by Dr Izumi Tabata and the head of the Japanese Olympic skating team.
Each workout is split into 4-minute rounds with each round consisting of 20 seconds of max-effort work followed by 10 seconds rest repeated 8 times.
Although traditionally Tabata was a single 4-minute round, it has since become the catchall name for any workout that uses the 4-minute round setup regardless of total workout length.
If you’re looking for a way to burn fat and get fit fast, then you can’t do much better than an intense Tabata workout.