04/16/2014 08:17 am ET | Updated Jun 16, 2014

4 Minutes to Fit: Tabata Interval Training

As a fitness professional and weight lifting enthusiast, I often like to shake things up with a new and different form of exercise. For a change of pace, I have been experimenting with Tabata training. Tabata is a variant of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training). Tabata training consists of four minutes of 20 second intervals with 10 seconds rest (20/10). Of all the high intensity interval training options out there, Tabata meets my needs the best because I feel like I can do anything for 20 seconds!

Tabata training was popularized in Japan by Olympic athletes. Dr. Izumi Tabata completed a study to determine the efficacy of this type of training. His study compared two groups of individuals, where one group performed one hour of moderate exercise five times a week for six weeks and the other group performed four-minute intervals of 20 seconds of high intensity work and 10 seconds of rest (Tabata intervals) four times per week and one day of steady state cardio. Results of this study indicated that the group performing the four minute intervals improved in both aerobic and anaerobic fitness levels, while the moderate exercise group only improved in aerobic fitness levels. Pretty awesome!


Research shows that Tabata can burn up to 13.5 calories/minute, and can potentially double your metabolic rate following exercise (even after just four minutes). I'm not trying to say that you all need to burn billions of calories, because that's not what fitness is all about, but that is a pretty sweet little tidbit. So if your goals include fat loss and cardio capacity, Tabata might be just what you're looking for! Just a little disclaimer: Tabata style training is designed to push you to your max. It is not recommended for beginning exercisers.

The following is my most recent Tabata workout. This workout consists of four 20/10 intervals with five minutes of static cardio as a recovery between. As a somewhat newbie to this type of training, I needed a little more rest time between intervals.

Each Tabata consists of two exercises. Complete 20 seconds of the first exercise, rest for 10 seconds, then complete 20 seconds of the second exercise, rest 10 seconds. Complete intervals eight times total (four minutes). Push yourself as hard as you can for the 20 seconds and stop completely for 10 seconds. Use whatever cardio machine you'd like for the static cardio intervals, just make sure to keep difficulty to a moderate level and recover completely.

  • Five minutes: incline walk

  • Four minutes: mountain climbers, single-leg mountain climbers
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  • Five minutes: elliptical

  • Four minutes: medicine ball squat and press, tuck jump
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  • Five minutes: stair mill

  • Four minutes: walking plank, plank with alternating leg lift
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  • Five minutes: stationary bike

  • Four minutes: burpees, high knees
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  • Four minutes: incline walk
  • Photo credit: Flex and Shout Fitness