This training technique was developed by Izumi Tabata, Ph.D., at the Tokyo National Sports and Fitness Institute, hence the name of this workout. This method is based on a reduced but very intense work period, which seeks to maximize the results in relation to the effort.

We could say that this training methodology is still a hiit training (high intensity interval training).


Definition of the Tabata method

The Tabata program is a form of interval training that follows the following pattern:

20 seconds of work


10 seconds rest

Total = 8 rounds (4 minutes of training)

As the working time is very short, it is essential to leave everything ready for the exercise to be worked on, otherwise the training would not be effective.

By definition, the Tabata method establishes a work scheme but does not determine the exercises to be performed. It can be with a single exercise, in combination with one or more, or with as many exercises as work series.

Tabata workout benefits

It’s fast

These periods of work + rest should be repeated, completing 8 series in total. If you do the calculations you are only going to use a total of 4 minutes but do not underestimate this type of training for what you can believe at first glance.

No more excuses for those people who always use the theme of time. Plan 4 Tabatas that you can even make at home , and you will have managed to give yourself a quick kick of energy to your body.

Is efficient

It is not very time consuming, so it becomes a very efficient method. Unlike other types of training, in a very short time you can get great results because you train at high intensity.

Simultaneously improves the aerobic system as well as the anaerobic system. That is, we will not only help improve cardiovascular endurance  but also achieve an improvement in muscular endurance and anaerobic capacity. Training at high intensity will release more testosterone and growth hormones that help us gain muscle tone, which in turn is positive for sports performance.

It is versatile

Since it only determines the form of work but not the exercises in question, there can be infinite combinations of Tabata.

Type of exercises that are usually done: squats, push-ups, lunges, chin-ups, triceps dips, abdominals … You can do Tabatas of any exercise that comes to mind.

It’s intense

A Tabata workout can be as demanding as you want it to be. If you really take the 20 seconds of work seriously thinking that you will have 10 seconds after each set to recover, and you give yourself to the maximum, you will have a good workout.

By training at high intensities we achieve a  higher caloric expenditure , we will not only burn many calories while we train, but also afterwards while at rest. This is so because it takes a while for the body to regain its normal metabolic rate, which has been very high during training.

It achieves very good results in a very short time since it is a very demanding job. Helps reduce body fat index. The fact of reducing the fat that we have in excess in the body helps us to be more efficient in our workouts, increases our performance.

“It is proven that high intensity exercise like Tabata is one of the best options to deal with the accumulation of body fat, ” says Juan Ruiz López , director of the training center that bears his name. He is not the only one who affirms that this form of HIIT (high intensity interval training) is a good option to burn calories. The athlete Sara Sigmundsdóttir already confirmed this to us a long time ago when we asked her about a high intensity training that could be carried out at home. And the fact is that one of the great benefits of this method is that it is easy to practice, it does not require equipment – well, good shoes – and it manages to accelerate the metabolism so that the body continues to burn calories at rest . Perhaps because of all this, right now it is one of the most sought after fitness trends on Pinterest.

The 20-10 formula 

The key to this training is its structure and timing . It is about doing 8 series of different exercises with 20 seconds of activity in each series and 10 seconds of rest between series and series. All this translates into a fairly intense work but with a fairly short total training time: about 4 minutes (to which we should add a prior warm-up of about 5-10 minutes). Some experts, for advanced levels , do not rule out the idea of ​​repeating this circuit – with a minute rest between circuits – until reaching 20 minutes of training. But the essence of Tabata is that: 4 minutes of exercise at maximum intensity. Because we are not talking about the number of repetitions but about time, since what is involved is trying to do as many repetitions as possible of each exercise (always well executed) in each established time interval. “We must always keep in mind the importance of striving to achieve maximum intensity and respect the times, thus achieving greater benefits,” says Natalia Masaedo , head of fitness technology at O2 Centro Wellness . In fact, there are different apps that help to control the time of each interval. An example? Tabata Timer . 

Best exercises to do Tabata

Among the best exercises to carry out in a Tabata workout there are great classics , easy to execute and recognizable by everyone. These would be some of the exercises that can be included in a Tabata routine:

  1. Money
  2. Strides
  3. ABS
  4. Burpees
  5. Skipping
  6. Mountain climbers or climbers
  7. Alternate strides
  8. Jump squats
  9. Dead weight
  10. Jumping Jacks


There are countless Tabata training boards that can be carried out. For example, the most common is to configure tables with four exercises that will have to be repeated twice to get to do those 8 series. Normally, lower body exercises are alternated with upper body and abdominal exercises, although there are multiple variations. Here is the example proposed by the 02 Centro Wellness team: 

  • Burpee (20 seconds)
  • Rest (10 seconds)
  • Skipping (20 seconds)
  • Rest (10 seconds)
  • Climber (20 seconds)
  • Rest (10 seconds)
  • Alternate lunge with jump (20 seconds)
  • Rest (10 seconds)
  • Burpee (20 seconds)
  • Rest (10 seconds)
  • Skipping (20 seconds)
  • Rest (10 seconds)
  • Climber (20 seconds)
  • Rest (10 seconds)
  • Alternate lunge with jump (20 seconds)
  • Rest (10 seconds)

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