Tabata Training: The 4-Minute Workout Busy Girls Need to Try

Posted June 19, 2014 by Dana Vogel in Life After Five
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Looking for a workout that will give you maximum benefits with minimum time? Who isn’t? Look no further than Tabata training!

What is Tabata?

Tabata is a high-intensity workout that only takes four (yes, just 4!) minutes. The tabata protocol consists of 20 seconds of hard work — think 110 percent of your maximum effort — followed by 10 seconds to rest. This is repeated eight times for a total of four minutes. The workout protocol is named after  Japanese physician and researcher Dr. Izumi Tabata. Dr. Tabata conducted a six-week study that compared two groups of exercisers. The control group exercised at a moderate rate for one hour, five times a week. The second group did the Tabata protocol five times a week. At the end of the six-week study, Dr. Tabata found that the high-intensity group improved their aerobic and anaerobic fitness levels versus little to no improvement in the control group.


Tabata works by increasing the body’s metabolism to about 15 times the body’s basal metabolic rate (BMR). Over time, regular Tabata training will actually increase your body’s BMR so that you burn more calories even when you’re resting. Tabata also helps your body to hold on to it’s lean muscle mass even when you’re losing weight since it stresses the muscles, telling your body that muscle is needed. Additionally, per Dr. Tabata’s research Tabata training caused a 14-percent increase in the participants’ aerobic capacity and a 28-percent increase in their anaerobic capacity.

The biggest benefit of all might be the amount of time you can save by performing Tabata training.

How can you add Tabata to your fitness routine?

It’s important to remember that Tabata training isn’t for beginners. If you workout regularly, Tabata can easily be added to your regular routine. If you enjoying running or cycling, trying doing 20-second sprints followed by 10-second rests for four minutes. You can even do this before or after a longer, slower workout to pump up the intensity.

Tabata also works well with body-weight workout moves like burpees, squats, mountain climbers, and push-ups. Pick four moves and mix the four minutes up for a total-body workout.

And to take the stress our of counting try downloading a Tabata song from iTunes. These songs will tell you when to rest and when to work.

Have you tried Tabata? Are you a fan?

About the Author

Dana Vogel

Dana is a marketing associate in Manhattan, where she's lived since 2012. She specializes in custom content and content marketing. Before that, she had worked as an associate editor at since May 2012. Dana has interned at Redbook magazine and a handful of newspapers. She is an alumna of the University of Pennsylvania and volunteers as a alumni interviewer helping to chose the next classes of Penn students. In her free time, she loves bargain hunting for designer clothes, working out, investing, and advancing her career.