Ultimate Go-To Tabata Guide: Best Tabata Workouts, Apps, Info & Equipment 2018

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Dreaming of a workout that gives you more results in less time than you spend working out today?

Some may say “Keep dreaming”!

But I know of a workout that gives you proven results in just 4 minutes.

Tabata can give you great results in just 4 minutes per session. Seems like a dream come true, right?

Keep reading to find out what Tabata is, how you can do Tabata from home, learn a few of the best Tabata workouts and get all of your Tabata questions answered.

women doing tabata workout

What Is Tabata?

Tabata is, in a nutshell:

  • 4 minute workout
  • Performed at 170% Max VO2
  • As Many Reps as Possible for 8 sets
  • 20 seconds working out with 10 seconds rest
  • Done 2 or 3 times a week

Sounds too easy, right?

I am here to tell you, Tabata only looks easy on paper.

The most challenging aspect of Tabata is the small detail of getting your body up to 170% max VO2, which is what separates Tabata from other forms of Cardio exercise.

Origins of Tabata Workout

This popular workout routine comes from Japan where it was tested and developed by a scientist Dr. Izumu Tabata with the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo.

Research proves that HIIT based Tabata exercise provides better results than steady state training, IF done precisely by following the Tabata routine to a “T”.

The research by Dr. Izumu Tabata gave birth to the phenomenon of Tabata we see today in gyms, fitness circles and forums today.

The 4-minute Tabata exercises are combined to build a progressive workout technique.

The hype is real, there is solid science behind the Tabata Regimen of HIIT training.

Research has shown that Tabata workouts have a more significant impact on both, your anaerobic and aerobic energy systems.

Before Tabata training become popular, it was already proven that specific types of exercises have a greater impact on the body overall.

The research conducted at the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo included similar training programs between two groups of athletes.

The group that followed Tabata workout program showed a greater impact on athletes bodies proving that high-intensity interval training provides for better overall body workout.

couple doing set of box jumps in crossfit gym

Is Tabata training Effective? Why does Tabata training work?

Yes! Tabata is effective and backed by science.

Tabata increases your metabolic rate and burns more calories than regular cardio, some studies suggest between 15 and 18 calories per minute.

But that’s not the best part.

Tabata keeps your metabolic rate elevated for at least 30 minutes post workout.

Because Tabata is more intense than regular cardio, it improves anaerobic and aerobic capacity to a greater degree than moderate cardio exercise.

Tabata vs HIIT – Is There a Difference?

drained girl after hard crossfit training

Here’s the deal.

Tabata IS a form of HIIT workout.

Different HIIT exercises can be done in a different fashion. However, when it comes to Tabata workout, there are highly specific rules to follow.

The specific Tabata protocol is exactly what makes Tabata so effective.

We’ve noticed that a lot of people are looking online for Tabata HIIT workouts, and that is why we wanted to make this clear.

If you take on Tabata, you will be doing a high-intensity interval training. And you have to be ready to really push yourself.

4 Minute Tabata Workout

When it comes to HIIT workouts, there are many options for you to choose from, including how long you want these workouts to last.

But with Tabata, it is all about the 4 minutes at 170% VO2 MAX. With Tabata, you really have to push your limits!

A Tabata workout consists of exercises that each last for 4 minutes. But be aware, these might be pretty long 4 minutes that push you to the limits.

Keep this regimen in mind to gain great results following Tabata:

  • Intense Workout for 20 seconds (170% VO2 MAX).
  • Rest for 10 seconds.
  • Repeat 8 rounds for a total of 4 min.

It might seem easy, but keep in mind that high-intensity interval training is just that HIGH intensity.

Tabata can even be considered ULTRA high intensity, pushing yourself to 170% of VO2 max is hard work.

You have to push yourself to the absolute limit!

Otherwise, it’s just a regular workout.

woman doing tabata workout

Tabata Exercises

What does a good overall body Tabata workout look like?

You have some freedom of choice as far as different exercises go. This gives you chance to build a workout that not only fits your desires preferences and goals.

An example Tabata routine is:

  • Bodyweight squats for 1 minute
  • Push-ups for 1 minute
  • Mountain climbers for 1 minute
  • Burpees for 1 minute
  • Don’t forget, during the Tabata session, its exercise for 20 seconds, rest for 10

After you get used to performing HIIT exercises, you can add new exercises to your workout to round out your routine.

This just goes to show how quickly you can get yourself a pretty good workout that will help you in shape and burn a lot of fat.

If you are thinking about burning fat, listen up closely.

Fat Burning Tabata Workouts

Alternate between these 4 exercises, doing each for 20 seconds with 10 second rest in between:

  • Power Push Ups
  • High knee Jumps
  • Switch Lunges
  • In and Outs

One reason people start an exercise routine is to lose weight and lose FAT!

Losing weight takes a lot of mental strength, a solid eating plan, aka diet, and hard workouts.

There is no way around it!

It is nice to find an exercise routine that really burns fat and helps you lose weight.

Keep this in mind!

Losing body weight is not only about exercise.

A lot of this has to do with your diet. Therefore you MUST learn about diet if you want to achieve the best possible results.

Weight loss happens in the kitchen. 80 % of weight loss success is because of WHAT you eat. 20 % of fat loss comes from exercise.

Bicycle Sprints

You can use exercise equipment for Tabata. A nice air bike or rower can give you a kick but workout in just 4 minutes.

Working out on a bicycle gives you the chance to really push yourself during HIIT and that is why it’s so good for Tabata training.

Plus, a bike is easy to start off as a beginner.

You can do those 20-seconds sprints and 10-second rest on any bike you have. But it will be a lot easier to do it on a stationary workout bicycle or air bike.

Jumping Rope

The trusty jump rope. What a great invention!

The jump rope allows you to take your Tabata workout on the go. If you travel, you can easily get a workout in with this perfect piece of travel fitness equipment.

Tabata with a jump rope is super simple!

Push yourself as hard as you can for those 20 seconds using whichever jumping style you prefer. Then rest for 10 seconds. Rinse and repeat for 4 minutes. That’s it!

Swimming

Yes, Tabata can be done swimming.

Get yourself a free lane at the pool. The start/stop based workout won’t make other swimmers happy if you are in a crowded pool.

Swimming is great for those who a looking to do quality cardio workouts and want to train the whole body.

10 Must-Try Tabata Moves – Tabata Workouts You Can do TODAY!

There are tons of different Tabata exercise routines for you to choose from.

Here are 11 of my favorites you can try today.

4 Minute Tabata Workout

This simple two move routine is done in true Tabata style. Notice how fast the trainer is moving, keeping in line with the 170% VO2 Max rule.

This is a bodyweight Tabata workout you can do in your home gym, as a travel workout routine from your hotel room, or from anywhere. No Equipment needed Tabata workout.

Moves:

  • Burpees
  • Running Man

Alternate 20 seconds or Burpees, rest 10 seconds, and then 20 seconds of running man for a total of 4 rounds. Simple, but not easy!

Tabata Workout for Beginners

This beginner’s Tabata Workout is no joke. Just remember, the goal is to push yourself to the max, to the point you want to give up. Just don’t give up!

Moves:

  • Narrow Stance Squat
  • Plank to pushup
  • Butt Kickers
  • Bicycle Crunches

Alternate between these 4 exercises twice, exercising for 20 seconds with a 10 second rest in between.

For the narrow stance squat, make sure you go low. On the butt kickers, try and get your heel to touch your butt on each kick. Really push yourself!

This beginner’s fat burning Tabata workout is for those who like variety. It incorporates 8 moves into the 4 minute Tabata session.

I love this workout because it can be done anywhere with no equipment.

Moves:

  • Push ups
  • Jumping jacks
  • Heel touches
  • Side to Side Crunches
  • Plank to elbow lifts
  • Bodyweight Squats
  • Mountain climbers
  • Lunges
  • Standing twist abs

Perform each exercise for 20 seconds at max speed, then rest 10 seconds.

Tabata Workouts at Home – NO Equipment Needed

This super simple Cardio heavy Tabata Routine can be done from your home gym with NO equipment.

Moves:

  • Burpees
  • Squats

Alternate between 20 seconds of Burpees, 10 seconds of rest and 20 seconds of squats. Do this 4 times.

Be sure to go deep on those squats. Make sure your chests taps the ground on each burpee!

Tabata Workouts WITH Weights

The following two intense Tabata workouts use weights. Choose from an upper body workout or full body Tabata workout with weights.

Moves:

  • Hand Release Push Ups
  • Dumbbell push press

Weights needed:

  • Two 20 lb dumbbells

Do 4 rounds of 20 seconds Hand release push-ups, 10 seconds rest, and 20 seconds Dumbbell push press.

Be sure your chest touches the floor on the Hand release Push ups, but try not to let that slow the move down.

Moves:

  • Ground to overhead
  • Ab mat sit up

Weights needed:

  • 25 lb weight plate
  • Ab Mat

Do 4 rounds of 20 seconds AMRAP Ground to overheads, 10 second rest, AMRAP Ab mat sit ups.

Full Body Tabata Workout

Looking to work your entire body in just 10 minutes? Here is a workout for you.

This workout uses NO equipment and includes a warm up and cool down.

Moves:

  • Side Shuffle (Warm Up)
  • Shoulder Circle (Warm Up)
  • Trunk Twist (Warm Up)
  • Skater Plyo (Tabata)
  • Push Ups (Tabata)

Do one round of the Warm-up moves 4 rounds of Skater Plyo for 20 seconds, 10 seconds rest, and 20 seconds of Push-ups with 10 seconds rest. Then…

  • Squat Jump
  • Grasshopper

4 rounds of 20 seconds Squat jumps, 10 seconds rest, 20 seconds of Grasshoppers and 10 seconds of rest.

Then a cool down:

  • Standing Quad Stretch
  • Overhead stretch
  • Chest stretch

His workout is longer than a standard Tabata workout for those who want a little more Tabata.

Tabata Bodyweight Workout

Tabata bodyweight workouts are great because you can do them at home or when you travel with no gym equipment.

Here are two workouts, one for beginners and one for advanced athletes.

Moves:

  • Body Weight Squats
  • Mountain Climbers
  • Lunges
  • Push ups

Do two rounds of 20 seconds Body weight squats, 10 seconds rest, 20 seconds of mountain climbers, 10 seconds of rest, 20 seconds of lunges, and 10 seconds of rest, 20 seconds of Push Ups, 10 seconds of rest.

This intense advanced Tabata workout will leave you breathless. The moves are challenging so try this Tabata routine at your own risk.

Moves:

  • Jumping Lunges
  • Lizard Hops
  • Hand stand kick ups
  • High Knee Jump Squats

Perform each move above, with a ten second rest in between. Do that twice. If you push yourself to the limit, you have done one of the hardest workouts ever!

Tabata Resistance Band Workout – Travel Tabata Workout

All you need is a portable resistance with handles and an anchor bad for this Tabata routine.

This routine includes a warm up. This is a true Tabata workout and I love that it uses such a wide range of resistance band exercises to keep things interesting.

Moves:

  • Squat to overhead press (Warm Up)
  • Donkey Kick-over
  • Lunging Press
  • Driving Squat jumps
  • Rear lunge and row
  • Power Scissors
  • Resistance Push Up
  • Side to side squat jumps
  • Plié Pull down

Crank up the intensity as high as you can go. The goal is to work at 170% VO2 max.

Tabata Rowing Machine Workout

This effective rowing machine Tabata workout will kick your butt. Simply row for distance for 20 seconds and rest for 10 seconds. Repeat for 8 rounds. This workout can be done on a Concept 2 rower or any Erg machine you like.

Tabata Air Bike Workout

Tabata can be done on an air bike. This video features the Assault air bike common to CrossFit Boxes and Gyms the world over.

The workout is easy to explain but hard to accomplish. Pedal to your max for 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds. Repeat for 8 rounds.

CrossFit Tabata Workout

CrossFit and Tabata make a good match. Use this CrossFit Tabata routine the next time you want a tough cardio and strength challenge.

Moves:

  • Hip Thrusters
  • Muscle Ups using gymnastics Rings
  • Double Unders
  • Toes to Bar
  • Handstand Walk
  • Tire Flips
  • Overhead Kettlebell Swing
  • Glute Ham Developer
  • Sit Ups

You need a proper CrossFit Box for these moves. Check out our essential CrossFit Home Gym Equipment guide to build your own CrossFit Box at home.

Best Tabata Workout Apps – Tabata Timers and Tabata Exercise Routines

If you love to track or are a techie, give these Tabata apps a try.

Quick 4 Minute Workout – Tabata

This app is specifically designed for Tabata workout lovers and is Free in the App Store. A great choice for those who are new to Tabata or are overall fitness beginners.

For an additional price, you can get some Tabata workout videos that will help you take the next step.

Tabata Interval Timer for HIIT (Find on Google Play)

This app comes free for Android users and is a great choice for those who want to customize their workout with a number of exercises performed etc.

The app allows you to connect with a fitness tracker allowing you not only to follow your heart rate but set certain target heart rates you want to achieve while pushing you to the limit every time.

Tabata Stopwatch Pro

This Apple iPhone Tabata app is free with in-app purchases available. It times the Tabata workout automatically so you can set it and go.

Just click start and go.

Three beeps let you know it’s time to start or rest.

It’s just that easy!

Tabata HIIT. Interval Timer

The Tabata HIIT interval timer is an android app that is free, but has ads.

What I like about this app is the preset workouts you can choose from. Abs one day, Butt and Thighs the next. Or you can create your own workout.

The app tells you what exercise is coming up next so there is no need to look at the phone while you workout.

Fitlb Tabata Timer

If you don’t have your phone handy, or want a timer that is web-based, give the fitlb computer/web-based timer a shot.

The best thing about this timer is it displays in HUGE numbers on your computer screen and it counts down out loud. Simple, and it gets the job done.

Tabata FAQs:

Man with compression shirt exercising with jumping rope

1. How often should you do Tabata workouts?

I am going to be real with you, the answer to this question really surprised me!

In the Dr. Izumu Tabata study, the workout was performed just 4 days a week. And that study used trained athletes!

Based on the static I picked up from around the web, many athletes use Tabata once or twice a week.

It’s like I said, Tabata is INTENSE. If you can do the workout more often, you are either well trained, or not working the Tabata routine hard enough.

2. What are some Tabata workout benefits?

  • Tabata is Efficient- 4 minutes and you are done. No more “I don’t have time” excuses.
  • Fat Loss Potential- Research shows HIGH INTENSITY is capable of fat burning, especially abdominal fat.
  • Lowers insulin Resistance by as much as 23 to 33% in healthy people.
  • It is EASY and can be done just about anywhere, in a Home gym, hotel room when you travel, a park, you name it. Tabata is a true No Excuses workout.

3. What are the downsides to Tabata? Is Tabata bad for you?

One thing I hear a lot when it comes to Tabata, is that even though it is short, it is hard.

One research study tested three types of exercise, Tabata, Steady state aerobics, and Meyers Protocol Interval training, a less intense interval training than Tabata. The participants agreed, Tabata was the least enjoyable.

But is Tabata safe?

According to one study it is, even for those with coronary artery disease.

“HIIT has shown a relatively low rate of major adverse cardiovascular events for patients with coronary artery disease or heart failure”.

4. How many Tabata sets per workout?

The 4 minute workout calls for 8 sets with 10 second rests in between.

5. Tabata vs cardio, what’s the difference?

Tabata is much more intense than moderate or regular cardio.

Tabata demands that you work at 170% of your Max VO2.

Compare Tabata VO2 Demands to Moderate Cardio.

Moderate cardio is done at 70 to 85% VO2 max.

That’s quite a difference in intensity.

6. What’s the difference between HIIT and Tabata?

Tabata is a style or regimen of HIIT training, just like a Toyota corolla is a type of car.

Tabata has a shorter duration than other styles of HIIT training, but Tabata is still considered HIIT training.

Most styles of HIIT training are done with high intensity, high VO2 and shorter duration than standard cardio, but Tabata is one of the most extreme styles of HIIT.

7. What are the biggest Tabata mistakes people make?

Don’t make these common Tabata mistakes!

1. Not amping up the intensity to 170% VO2 Max – If you are not pushing hard enough, it’s NOT Tabata and you won’t get the full of Tabata.

At the end of the 4 minutes, you should feel spent. If not, you are not training hard enough for Tabata.

2. Doing Tabata too often, or not getting rest and recovery. Tabata should be hard. Hard enough to require a few rest days in between sessions.

You should not do Tabata every day, or even every other day. 1 to 3 times a week. MAX.

3. Not performing exercises where you can instantly and easily reach 170% VO2. Think about it.

It takes a treadmill a few seconds to hit a speed where it is intense enough to get you to Max VO2 of 170%. Plants and isometric exercises won’t get you there either. Only use exercises where getting to Max VO2 of 170% is possible.

8. What are some Ideal Tabata exercises?

Any move where you can quickly and easily reach 170% VO2 will work for Tabata intervals.

Try these ideal Tabata moves:

  • Mountain Climbers
  • Burpees
  • Kettlebell Swings
  • Rowing or Erging
  • Air Bike
  • Jump Squats
  • Jump rope
  • Sprinting

9. Can I combine Tabata with CrossFit?

Yes, you can combine CrossFit training with Tabata.

In Fact, many CrossFit WODS are very similar to Tabata workouts in duration and intensity.

However…

You cannot do both full time. Let’s say most CrossFitters workout 5 days a week, and Tabata is done 2 or 3 times a week. You cannot simply combine the routines and do 5 days or CrossFit and 2 days of Tabata.

You need to modify your routines if you are going to combine CrossFit with Tabata.

An example is Do CrossFit three times a week and Tabata one day a week.

Check out this list of CrossFit workouts you can do from home, including 7 CrossFit workouts you can do using no equipment.

10. Can I combine Tabata with Yoga?

Yes, you can combine Yoga with a Tabata Routine, but the same principle holds if you plan to combine Tabata with any other fitness routine.

You cannot do each routine full time. You need to modify the workout schedule of each.

man doing push ups in outdoor

This concludes the Ultimate go-to Tabata Guide and Best Tabata Workouts.

I hope you picked up some useful info and found a Tabata workout you can use.

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