Tabata – Expressway to Fitness

Honestly, I had not heard of Tabata until the week-before-last, at my body-balance class. When my instructor announced that we would be doing something call the Tabata, I was expecting some sort of a Mexican or maybe Latin-American-inspired dance-cardio session—Tabata, Tango and Tequila all seem to have a similar ring to it! Well it was nothing close to them but an intense, high-calorie-burning and a concise circuit-kind-of workout.

Tabata was founded in Japan by Dr. Izumi Tabata in 1996. Dr. Tabata believed that high-intensity training, done within a short span of time, would yield better results than exercising at a low intensity for a long period.

A 4-minute, Tabata-style of workout can be equivalent to 45-minute workout if done properly. The basic Tabata concept is to do an exercise for 20 seconds, then take 10 seconds of rest, and then repeat the same process for a total of 8 times.

The class I did was built on this concept incorporating a circuit comprising 2 strength and 2 cardio exercises. This was to be completed in 20 minutes. By the end of 20 minutes I had my heart rate elevated—and was sweating as much—as I do in 60-minute, intense spin class.

Benefits of Tabata

  • Burns off pounds and excess body weight
  • Improves both aerobic and anaerobic endurance
  • Improves your muscular endurance
  • Makes you fit and strong
  • Requires extremely little time for an effective output.

Type of Exercises

Tabata exercises can be done with sprints or even on bikes however it is also adaptable to other interval training exercises like squats, push-ups, jumping-jacks, lunges etc. Kettle bells, weights, and stability balls also work very well with it.

The point is to use large muscle groups to get maximum benefits. I would suggest you ask your instructor to guide you before beginning such exercises.

If you are pressed for time, a simple 4-minute Tabata routine done 3 times a week can also do a fair deal for you. However, if you can spare 20 minutes you can expect to see phenomenal results! Just ensure you do the exercise correctly and not just somehow go through the 20-second intervals. Also work at getting maximum reps in that 20 seconds and each time try and beat your previous round.

Keep a clock in front of you to monitor the time and have some peppy music playing in the background. Tabata clocks and MP3s are available online.

Lastly and most importantly, even if you are only doing a 4-minute Tabata routine, ensure you spend at least 3-4 minutes warming up and also spend 2-3 minutes to cool down at the end of it. Remember, it is an extremely intense workout . . . thus, warm-ups and cool-downs are an integral part.


About the Author

Shalini is a fitness enthusiast and has been practising Pilates, doing spinning, yoga and various kinds of aerobics. She researches and reads extensively about health, nutrition and wellness. Shalini loves playing tennis,swimming and trying all sorts of sports.

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