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Tabata Workouts

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What Is Tabata?
The Benefits Of Tabata
The Disadvantages Of Tabata
Top 10 Tabata Exercises For Beginners
4 Minute Tabata Workout
Tabata Workouts for Beginners: 10 Workouts for Fast Weight Loss
Tabata Tips for Beginners

What Is Tabata?

Tabata training is a simple style of high intensity interval training (HIIT) which was devised as the result of a 1996 study by Professor Izumi Tabata. It involves extremely short 4 minute workouts which use 20 second periods of high intensity exercise followed by 10 second periods of low intensity exercise or rest. Throughout the workouts you are required to maintain maximum effort and focus in order to attain the optimum results. In this article we’ll be looking at Tabata training in greater details and outlining its pros and cons.

Tabata Overview

The origins of Tabata date back to 1996 where the Japanese Olympic Speed Skating Team Head Coach Irisawa Koichi fashioned an 8 round HIIT workout which was made up of 20 seconds of intense cycling followed by 10 seconds of rest. This 4 minute workout was created for his skaters but he asked his training coach Professor Izumi Tabata to study the effectiveness of this workout.

During the same year, Professor Tabata and his research team undertook a study at the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Japan. The basis of this study was to evaluate how effective the 4 minute workout was. He used 2 groups of men in the study, with one performing regular cardiovascular exercises and the other performing high intensity exercises. The results showed that there were marked improvements in the cardiovascular health of those who underwent the 4 minute HIIT workout compared with the group who performed stead state cardio workouts. The popular findings of this study led to the term ‘Tabata Protocol’ being coined, even though Professor Tabata was not the original creator of this style of fitness training.

Today the Tabata protocol is extremely popular in the health and fitness world, particularly in the CrossFit community. People continue to report that they have achieved exceptional results by incorporating Tabata training into their routine.

The Benefits Of Tabata

Tabata training has countless health benefits and can help you achieve a wide range of fitness goals. The section below outlines some of the main benefits of Tabata training:

1. Dynamic Workouts: Tabata training is exceptionally versatile. The only equipment that’s required is your own body which means you can perform your workouts wherever and whenever you desire.

2. Enhanced Cardiovascular Fitness: Tabata workouts have been proven to increase your cardiovascular fitness by improving your aerobic capacities and strengthening your heart.

3. Fun Workouts: Tabata workouts can be performed with almost any exercise, so you can constantly incorporate diverse and fresh exercises into your training regime. This keeps your workouts enticing, motivating and most importantly – fun.

4. High Calorie Burn: Tabata workouts blast through an extremely large amount of calories. The short but intense sessions burn 67 calories in just 4 minutes and also increase the rate at which your body uses calories for hours after you finish the workouts.

5. Increased HGH Levels: High intensity workouts like Tabata haven been shown to increase the amount of human growth hormone (HGH) in your body. This hormone is known to boost your energy levels, enhance your sleep quality, increase the rate at which your body burns fat and support muscle growth.

6. Short Workouts: Tabata workouts last just 4 minutes so are perfect for individuals with busy schedules. This means you can always fit a workout in, no matter how little time you have to spare.

The Disadvantages Of Tabata

While the aerobic, fat burning and cardiovascular fitness benefits of Tabata training are clear, there are also a number of drawbacks which need to be taken into consideration before participating in this style of fitness training. That is why below we will be looking at 4 disadvantages of Tabata training.

1. High Injury Risk: Tabata training is performed at an extremely high intensity and this places lots of pressure on your muscles and joints. This means that it has a relatively high injury risk, especially if you fail to warm up or perform the exercises incorrectly.

The high powered nature of Tabata also means that individuals suffering from or predisposed to heart disease, high blood pressure, strokes, obesity, pulmonary conditions, metabolic conditions and other critical health problems should avoid this style of training unless they are given the go ahead by their physician.

While Tabata training does have a higher than average injury risk, there are a few things you can do to minimize your injury risk. These include properly warming up and cooling down, focusing on proper form and dialing down the intensity if you feel close to your limits.

2. Limited Muscle Growth: While Tabata workouts can build up your muscles to some degree, they’re not nearly as effective as longer strength training workouts.

HIIT workouts such as Tabata has been proven to stimulate the production of human growth hormone (HGH) which has been known to optimize health, increase strength, augment energy, improve sensitivity to insulin, boost fat burning and increase muscle growth.

However, if you are looking to drastically increase your muscle mass, Tabata will not benefit you greatly. This is because longer strength training sessions of between 30 minutes and 1 hour are required to significantly enhance your muscle size and strength. So if building up your muscles is 1 of your main fitness goals, use Tabata training in conjunction with focused strength training workouts.

3. Longer Recovery Periods: A 4 minute workout may not seem like something that requires much recovery. However, the intense reps that are required for each exercise, as well as the 100% commitment and focus needed throughout the workout make it 1 of the most grueling styles of fitness training you can encounter.

The truth is you will probably be unable to move after a 4 minute Tabata workout, due to the fact that your muscles will be completely fatigued. This state of exhaustion takes a long time to recover from, especially if you are not used to undertaking Tabata workouts.

4. Not For Beginners: Tabata was designed with Olympic-level athletes in mind. Not only is it an intense workout that demands extreme commitment and dedication but it also pushes your body to its physical limits. Unfortunately, this means that beginners and unfit individuals are unlikely to be able to complete Tabata workouts effectively and only advanced exercisers will be comfortable taking part in and completing this extreme workout.

While Tabata isn’t perfect and does have its fair share of disadvantages, the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks. Provided that you allow time to build up your fitness levels, warm up and cool down properly and let your body fully recovery, Tabata training can be a highly beneficial addition to your training regime.


I hope this article has helped you learn all you wanted to know about Tabata training. If you’re interested in HIIT or simply want to enhance your existing fitness regimen, Tabata training is a fantastic tool that can give you amazing results. So give it a try and see if Tabata training is suitable for you.

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