The 4-Minute Workout: Is Tabata Training Effective?


Most people want their workouts to be two things: fast and effective. That where high-intensity interval training techniques, like Tabata, come in handy.

The famed training protocol alternates 20-second intervals of maximal effort with 10-second rest periods. Repeat that cycle eight times for an exhaustive four-minute workout.

How It Works

Developed by Dr. Izumi Tabata for Olympic speed skaters, Tabata is a form of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) that’s been adopted by boot camp devotees, CrossFitters, and plenty of fitness fans who just want to spend less time in the gym.1 The 20-10 pattern has been shown to tax both aerobic and anaerobic pathways more than intense exercise with longer rest periods, meaning improved overall cardiovascular fitness.2 By taking rest periods only half the length of the intense bursts (a 2:1 work-to-rest ratio), the body is forced to perform without a full recovery. Translation: At some point between rounds six and eight, you’ll hit a point of maximum oxygen intake and be really (really) out of breath.

While the 20-10 protocol is most readily applied to traditional cardio (i.e. sprint for 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds), the regimen is also suited to all manner of resistance training, bodyweight exercises, and even explosive movements. Whether performing squats, a dumbbell press, or even rowing, the trick is to find a resistance and speed that can be handled for multiple reps across multiple cycles.</…

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