The Four-Minute Workout: Quick Facts about Tabata Training

Is it possible to get a real workout in only 4 minutes? What’s all the Tabata craze about? Here’s a quick rundown on the facts about Tabata training to help you decide whether or not it’s a good fit for you.

Tabata, a high intensity training technique founded by physiologist Dr. Izumi Tabata in Tokyo, is designed to give the body maximum benefits in a short period of time. The basic structure of the Tabata training method incorporates a complete workout into an intense 4 minutes! Here’s how it looks:

20 seconds of intense training (go full force for every single second)

10 seconds of rest (stop exercising, catch your breath and get ready to go again)

Repeat, rest, repeat for a total of 8 sessions or rounds

Tabata training can be done with weights, body weight exercises, or a combination of them. Examples of exercise often used are squats, dead-lifts, pushups, chin ups, jumping jacks, situps, rowing, stationary bicycle, and sprints. The key is to use exercises and weights that are challenging enough to give a true workout but light enough to allow you to complete the full 4-minute session. Four minutes seems like a short time period but will not when you are working full force.


What Are the Pros of Tabata Training?

You will burn fat! The intense workout will raise your metabolism and increase your aerobic and anaerobic capacity. Adding as few as two Tabata workouts per week to your routine can help you shed body fat.

It is very fast! Even the busiest people can squeeze 4 minutes into the day. You get the benefits of long workout session in a shorter time.

The workout is flexible! Tabata can be done with a variety of exercise routines. You have the option of changing it up as much as you want (add heavy weightlifting, more aerobics, etc.). Plus, it’s so quick you never get the chance to get bored with it!

It works! The Tabata technique has been researched extensively. The reason it’s becoming so popular is because people are seeing the results.


Are There Cons to Tabata Training?

It is intense! Tabata requires you to operate at a high intensity so it may be dangerous for individuals who are prone to strokes and heart attacks. If you have a history of strokes and heart attacks or have high blood pressure, consult with a physician to determine if Tabata training is a wise choice for you.

Injuries happen! Of course, injuries can always happen when you’re working out but the fast pace may make it easier to hurt yourself if you’re not cautious. A weight may slip from your hands or your technique may suffer when you’re performing exercises quickly, so pay close attention to maintaining proper form even when working at this fast pace.


Here are a few tips to keep in mind before trying your hand at Tabata:

1. Be prepared for your Tabata workout by deciding in advance what exercises you want to include, arranging the order of them, and making sure you have the proper equipment set out for them.

2. Alternate exercises in each session to get a workout that hits a variety of muscle areas. For example, one session may be squats, another pushups, another deadifts, another jumping jacks, etc.

3. Tabata can be hard on your body due to the high intensity of the training. You will be sore the next day, so give your body time to rest and recover in between workouts. Also, remember to give your body proper nutrition and stretching before and after your Tabata routines.

4. Use a timer to keep track of your sessions instead of trying to count in your head. This workout technique will keep your mind and body busy enough without having to keep track of the seconds as you go. Try this free online Tabata timer if you don’t own a stopwatch or timer.


So, what do you say? Do you have 4 minutes to spare to build a stronger, healthier body? With Tabata training, the old “I don’t have enough time to workout” excuse just isn’t going to cut it anymore.

Here are a few great Tabata video workouts from Fitness by to get you started:



JO BRIELYN is an author and contributing writer for Get Fit Now and has currently completed 16 nonfiction books about health and wellness. Jo is the founder, writer, and editor of Creative Kids Ideas, a resource website that supplies parents, teachers, and family members with the tips and fun ideas to help build stronger, happier, and more creative kids. She is also the writer behind Jo is a veteran of the United States Air Force and a former youth leader. Jo is the co-author of Combat Fat for Kids.