What Is Tabata Training? and Why You Should Give It a Go

Nobody said it would be easy – but girl are the 4-minutes of hard work worth it

Two fit women performing mountain climbers as part of Tabata workout

Girl, you know for sure if you’ve ever taken on a Tabata workout. Your pounding lungs take the elastic in your sports bra to its absolute limit and you never knew this level of lactic acid burn existed. But you love it, and at this point, you’re all in.

You check the clock – 10 seconds left to go girl. Everything in your powerful womanly physique goes into that last blast of burpees before the timer chimes the sound of success.

You fall into a sweaty puddle having crushed another of your favorite all-or-nothing workouts. 20-minutes has passed since you hit ‘go’ and you’re finished before most girls have even started.

Sweet, who needs endless hours chained to the cardio machines? Not you, girl. Less than half the time spent pushing through a high-interval Tabata will do. In fact, it’s even better.

 

Article Preview:

  • A brief history of Tabata training
  • Benefits of Tabata training
  • Common mistakes
  • SpotMeGirl’s Top 3 Tabata Workouts

 

woman exercising with battle ropes as part of Tabata circuitA brief history of Tabata training

Ladies let’s put our hands together for Dr. Izumi Tabata. Why you ask? Well, without his research into HIIT training we’d still be stuck out there with the rest of the treadmill zombies. No. Thank. You.

Because of Professor Tabata’s groundbreaking study, we now know that high-intensity training trumps steady state cardio for bettering anaerobic fitness. Not only that, but it’s also been shown to improve aerobic fitness too – result! [1]

To prove this, Tabata took two teams of elite level cyclists separated into groups A and B. Group A were assigned five steady-state workouts for six weeks straight.

Group B, on the other hand, hit the high-intensity stuff four times over the same six-week period.

LISS vs. HIIT

Group A spent each workout plugging away on a static exercise bike for 60 minutes at moderate intensity. Think somewhere in the mid-range of exertion where you can still chat, but you’re still a little out of breath.

However, group B performed four minutes of high-intensity bouts instead. These featured 20 seconds of all-out work immediately followed by 10 seconds rest. There’s no way these guys would have been able to talk unless they were slacking.

During the HIIT workouts, every single athlete had to maintain an intensity above 85RPM. If they didn’t it was grounds for a disqualification, meaning they had to leave the test.

Upon completing the study Dr. Tabata confirmed that both groups had improved their V02 max, which is a measure of how efficiently the body can use oxygen. But what impressed the professor most was how group B had improved their anaerobic fitness too – with a massive 28% increase on average.

Thus, the Tabata training system was born – saying ‘see ya’ to steady-state snoozefests forever.

 

Fit and healthy female showing benefits of Tabata trainingBenefits of Tabata training

Tabata is all about crushing the clock, so here are the benefits at a glance:

  • Time – it’s a short, sharp, shock of fitness for girls on the go
  • Intensity – an all-in approach is required for Tabata to be effective
  • Fun – pushing your body to its limits over 20 seconds is crazy fun
  • Fat burning – Tabata training is awesome for taking out stubborn fat cells
  • Muscle building – as a HIIT method, Tabata has the potential for building muscle too
  • EPOC – studies have shown high-intensity workouts like Tabata can leave you burning extra calories post-exercise through Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption
  • Effective – Professor Tabata proved his method via a scientific study
  • Perfect for women – not only will you become the fittest female in the gym, you’ll look leaner and get stronger too

Time

Okay, we’ve got to admit we’re pretty crazy about HIT training at SpotMeGirl. We’re ladies who lift with limited time on our hands, so we like a workout that packs a punch without wiping out our day.

That’s why we love Tabata training so much. You can hit a workout almost anywhere in as little as four minutes, providing you’ve got the guts to push your limits.

All you need is a timer, a few set exercises, and a little grit to get the job done girl.

Muscle building and fat burning for females

Plus, there’s the added fat burning and muscle preserving positives of HIIT training. Whereas LISS cardio can actually negatively impact muscle mass, high-intensity workouts can even build it.

Also, because you’re only resting for 10 seconds between bursts, your body doesn’t have time to return to a normal resting state (homeostasis). This means that your heartrate stays elevated throughout the entire workout, leading to faster fatigue and the breakdown of fat cells for energy.

Yup – Tabata is definitely the way forward for us girls. If you’re wanting to get leaner, toned, and achieve a strong feminine look whilst getting fit, you’ve found your match.

EPOC

Finally, let’s not forget about the Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption Known as EPOC for short. This is a process where our bodies carry on burning extra energy even after we finish working out.

Studies have shown that high-intensity training such as Tabata is awesome for triggering this process [2]. All you have to do is make sure you’re trying your darn hardest and you can continue to reap the rewards well after.

Are you sold yet, girl? Of course, you are. Who wouldn’t want to get fitter, burn fat, and tone up fast?

But before you go and crush 20 seconds of crunches let’s look at the common Tabata mistakes.

 

Woman performing push up as part of Tabata workoutCommon mistakes

Because we know you’re ready to go we’ll not keep you long. All SpotMeGirl asks is that you kick these common mistakes in the can well before they become a habit.

For an effective Tabata workout stay away from:

  • Plodding along at a ‘comfortable’ pace (we’re here to work, sister)
  • Not pushing yourself for the entire 20 seconds
  • Resting for longer than 10 seconds
  • Going too hard if you’re a beginner
  • Sacrificing form for speed – yup, we’re looking at you Ms. Competitive
  • Not warming up properly or cooling down

 

Beginner’s beware

Hopefully all the above should be pretty common knowledge to you. If not, and you’re a total beginner, our advice is to try Tabata but not to push yourself too hard.

Learn the basic movements before you start and concentrate on building a solid foundation of fitness. Doing this will give you all the tools you need to start achieving that dream bod.

Seasoned Sheila’s shouldn’t hold back

On the other hand, if you’re a seasoned Sheila on the gym floor get your Tabata game on lock-down. Set the timer and stick to it no matter what – you’ve got it in you, girl!

High-intensity training requires your heartrate to stay elevated. So, don’t overstay your rest periods. Doing so will only make the workout less effective and take away many of the HIIT benefits we love. It’s just not worth it for such a short space of time.

If you know you’re a culprit for chilling a little longer than necessary, invite a friend to join you. They’ll know if you’re taking an extra-long water break, and if they’re SpotMeGirl material, they’ll call you out on it too.

Related article: Fat Torching, Muscle Growing HIIT Leg Workouts

Stay safe sister

Finally, before you go, keep in mind that safety should be your middle name. Maybe not on all your Social Media profiles, but definitely during training.

After all, no workout is worth getting hurt over. Getting injured sucks and the only PRs crushed on the couch are cookies eaten per Netflix episode. Not exactly a great fitness goal, girl.

Warm up with a pulse-raiser and plenty of dynamic stretches to get your muscles primed for action. Then, don’t forget to stretch off and cool down once you’re done girl to help dampen those DOMS.

Foam rolling post-workout is also a great way to give your body some well-deserved love [3]. So, try to combine it alongside your regular routine to keep you injury free and back killing it day after day.

Let’s do this, girls!

 

SpotMeGirl’s Top 3 Tabata Workouts

woman performing air squat as part of Tabata workout

Workout 1 – The Finisher

1 round – 4 mins

  1. Pushups – 20 seconds
  2. Rest – 10 seconds
  3. Mountain climbers – 20 seconds
  4. Rest – 10 seconds
  5. Burpees – 20 seconds
  6. Rest – 10 seconds
  7. Bicycle crunches – 20 seconds
  8. Rest – End of workout

(Perform workout 2 x to complete 1 round)

Workout 2 – The Anywhere, Anytime Tabata

3 rounds – 12 mins

  1. Mountain climbers – 20 seconds
  2. Rest – 10 seconds
  3. Squat thrusts – 20 seconds
  4. Rest – 10 seconds
  5. Air squats – 20 seconds
  6. Rest – 10 seconds
  7. V situps – 20 seconds
  8. Rest – 10 seconds

(Perform workout 2 x to complete 1 round)

Workout 3 – The Cardio Queen

Complete this workout using five rounds of paired exercises. So, hit exercise A first before resting and moving onto B. Once you’ve rested after B, you’re back to A again to repeat the process – which should be completed twice over. Example: A, B, A, B = 1 round.

5 rounds – 20 mins

Round 1

  1. A – Air squats – 20 seconds
  2. Rest – 10 seconds
  3. B – Lateral bounds – 20 seconds
  4. Rest – 10 seconds

Round 2

  1. A – Pushups – 20 seconds
  2. Rest – 10 seconds
  3. B – Box jumps – 20 seconds
  4. Rest 10 seconds

Round 3

  1. A – Mountain climbers – 20 seconds
  2. Rest – 10 seconds
  3. B – Kettlebell swings – 20 seconds
  4. Rest – 10 seconds

Round 4

  1. A – Burpees – 20 seconds
  2. Rest – 10 seconds
  3. B – Dead bugs – 20 seconds
  4. Rest – 10 seconds

Round 5

  1. On the spot sprints – 20 seconds
  2. Rest – 10 seconds
  3. B – Bicycle crunches – 20 seconds
  4. Rest – 10 seconds

 

Fit and healthy woman using kettlebell in Tabata training workoutFinal word – Last round on Tabata training

Tabata training is a highly effective HIIT method that’ll make you fitter, stronger and leaner in a heartbeat. Well, four minutes divided into 20-second bursts and 10 second rest periods to be precise. These short blocks are then repeated in what we call rounds, often up to a total of 20 minutes.

Used by athletes and fitness fanatics worldwide, Tabata is training perfect for anybody who’s tight for time. Hell, it’s even better for people who just love to get the job done. There’s no hanging around for two minutes between sets, it’s all-out action from the very beginning. Get in, get out, and get fit girls – no messing.

Each workout is carried out at a super high lung-bursting intensity. And whilst it might not be easy, this is where Tabata’s magic shines through by keeping the heartrate constantly elevated. This not only improves both aerobic and anaerobic fitness but forces the body to blitz body fat cells too.

There’s even an added EPOC effect bonus. Something that allows Tabata training individuals to carry on crushing calories long after their workout finishes.

Yup – blink and you’ll miss it, sister. So, what’re you waiting for?

Grab the stop clock, clear some space on the gym floor and get to work. Not only will you be fitter than ever, but you’ll have all the time in the world to enjoy afterward too. Did somebody say social life again? We’re in!

 

References

  1. Tabata I, et al. Effects of moderate-intensity endurance and high-intensity intermittent training on anaerobic capacity and VO2max.Medicine & Science in Sports &amp Exercise. 1996.
  2. Mistretta J, et al. Effect of High Versus Low Intensity Resistance Exercise on Excess Post Exercise Oxygen Consumption.Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 2006.
  3. Pearcey GE, et al. Foam rolling for delayed-onset muscle soreness and recovery of dynamic performance measures.J Athl Train. 2015

 

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