Ummm...What's a Tabata???

I have rambled talked a lot about Tabata over the last few days and the question keeps coming up:

What IS Tabata???

Answer (as found via a Google search)

“The World's Greatest Fat Burning Workout” source

Sounds perfect right? Possibly. Also sounds a little too good to be true so let's look at it in a little more detail:
Created by Izumi Tabata from Japan, the Tabata Protocol is a supra-aerobic cardio workout created to substantially increase V02max and burn fat. The premise is that a series of short bursts of intense intervals followed by even shorter periods of rest your body pushes past your Target Heart Rate (THR) thereby pushing you into an anaerobic or supra-aerobic zone that torches calories and fat.
The original workout was created as follows:

•5 minutes of warm-up

•8 intervals of 20 seconds all-out intensity exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest

•2 minutes cool-down

The recommendation is to slowly work up to this level of intensity by building endurance over time.

Monitoring heart rate is considered vitally important as this workout can push your heart rate well over 200BPM which is unsafe.

Calculating your Maximum Heart Rate in beats per minute:

220-age= MHR

Calculating your Target Heart Rate (bpm)

Your THR is between 60%-80% of your MHR

MHR x .60= 60% THR

MHRx .80= 80% THR

For example: My MHR is 192 which means I should aim for a THR between 115 and 154.

Equipment Required:


Tabata can be performed with exercises that solely rely on body weight resistance, potentially making it a good choice for an at home workout.

Other methods use kettlebells, hand weights, Elliptical trainers, stationary bikes or other cardio equipment.

If you want to conduct this workout on your own you will require a stopwatch or other timing device to keep track of your intervals.

As I mentioned I take (and taught) Tabata at the gym at my office. We use the aforementioned method and typically use handweights and resistance bands for the exercises. Each exercise is meant to engage two major muscle groups (eg. core and legs or arms and legs) for maximum intensity.

 Example of a Tabata workout (this is the one I conducted):

Warmup (5 min):

Jogging, high knees, static squats


Squats and should press
Stationary lunge and bicep curl
Clock pushups
Wide squat and oblique rotation
Plank with moguls or jacks (or stationary plank)
Row/tricep kickback
Mountain climbers

Cool down and stretch

The key that I feel I need to emphasize here is that the participants have a lot of choice for how intense this workout is. Each individual goes at her own pace for 20 seconds, she chooses her own weights (or can opt to go weight free) and  is given alternates to increase or decrease the difficulty level. The intructor will contantly monitor for proper form (ie: no using momentum to swing the weights and risk injury) and ensure that the participants are using their breath to power through the exercises.

Reality check:

Tabata is not for everyone. But at the same time Tabata can be a fierce exercise for someone looking to introduce strength training to his/her routine or really shake up his/her existing one.

I'm going to disclaimer this a little more and say this: Please speak to your doctor before starting this (or any) exercise routine, especially if you suffer from a heart condition, are or could be pregnant or have back or knee issues.

I personally endorse this form of exercise but keep in mind that I am not a doctor or a licensed professional of any kind. I'm a woman who likes to work up a good sweat and get her butt kicked every now and again. But I am also in good health, exercise regularily, eat well and get lots of rest which are all vital.

So in conclusion (omigoodness I am back to essay writing 101) check out Tabata if its right for you.Do I think it's the world's greatest exercise? I think to each their own and whatever exercise you will stick to is the greatest for you. I love this one and I hope you will too!

Haven't heard enough about Tabata yet?? Read this (mine) and this (source)

And just in case you thought I was done with this topic for one night, guess who was asked to be a volunteer intructor at her gym and to take over the Thursday Tabata class in the next month??

This girl, that's who!!

Happy Friday everyone!

So tell me, what do you think about Tabata? Have you tried it? If you haven't would you?



  1. That's so exciting! I wish I could take your class! I have done a Tabata workout on my own but never in a class format. Thanks for sharing all of your knowledge.

  2. Dude. I want to look like that lady with the weights. Can Tabata make me look like that? (so awesome that you teaching!!)

  3. I've never tried Tabata but I totally would!!!

  4. So many things I want to comment on :)

    First, THANK YOU for explaining Maximum HR to me. I've Googled and Googled and couldn't find what I was looking for. What you wrote makes sense. During some of my hard runs, I get in the 200's and I know it's not safe, but now I know I need to BACK OFF.

    Secondly, I love love love Tabata. I like how the workouts are quick, (though not easy by any means) and you can do them at home with very little equipment. I love workouts where you HR is up and you are working on strength at the same time.

    Great informative post!

  5. I only found out about Tabata through your blog, but it definitely sounds intense and fun!

  6. Sounds like a killer workout! I think it may be similar to what is offered at my work gym as described by some girls in my department however they are not calling it Tabata. I would be interested in giving it a shot...at least once...if I survived. ;)

  7. I've never tried it...sounds interesting! Yay for you taking the class for a month! Exciting!