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  • Cari Verde, MS, CNS

Having difficulty finding time to get a workout in? Tabata may be your answer.

Updated: Nov 5, 2023

With today's fast-paced lifestyle, it's not a surprise that many find difficulty fitting in a daily workout.

What if we could maximize workouts in minimal time?

How does 4-minutes sound?

Picture is free for use under Creative Commons License Law.

What is Tabata?

Tabata (pronounced ta-ba-ta) is a hard-core spin on the popular High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) training method. It combines both cardiovascular exercise and resistance training into one quick session, incorporating a shorter rest period between sets. This style of exercise can be done with body weight at home or with weights in the gym.

Tabata was developed by Dr. Izumi Tabata, a researcher at Japan's National Institute of Fitness and Sports. He compared the effects of high-intensity intermittent exercise with that of longer duration lower-intensity exercise. Tabata 4-minute HITT training, at full effort with short 10-second rest breaks, was found to be more effective than working out for a longer period of time at a lower intensity.1 Dr. Tabata accredited the success of this method to shorter rest breaks, rather than the intensity of the workout.1

How to get started:

  • Begin with 20 seconds of any high-intensity exercise (at maximal effort), followed by only a 10 second rest period, completing a total of 8 rounds. This only lasts for 4 minutes!

  • After increasing stamina, consider building up to five 4-minute Tabata sessions, totaling one 20-minute HIIT session.

  • Include bodyweight exercise to achieve the benefits of resistance training in addition to the cardiovascular benefits.

A sample 4-minute Tabata session looks like this:

* see the links below for example of the exercises

This plan meets the recommended government physical activity guidelines for adults under 65 for vigorously intense cardio 20-60 minutes a day, 3 days a week AND 8-10 strength training exercise with 8-12 repetitions of each exercise 2 times/week.2

It is best to vary exercises with each workout to ensure you are working all muscle groups. Just a quick word of advice, the Tabata training method requires 100% effort to reap the benefits of this short workout. For more information on Tabata:

About the Author: Cari Verde, CNS earned her Master’s degree in Applied Clinical Nutrition from New York Chiropractic College in August 2018. She is passionate about optimizing nutrition and wellness, as well as helping to identify and correct nutritionally related root causes of dysfunction within the body. She is an Army veteran as well as a military wife.

Links to Videos


1. Tabata I, Nishimura K, Kouzaki M, Hirai Y, Ogita F, Miyachi M, Yamamoto K. Effects of moderate-intensity endurance and high-intensity intermittent training on anaerobic capacity and VO2max. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1996 Oct;28(10):1327-30. MID: 8897392

2. ACSM Issue New Recommendations on Quantity and Quality of Exercise. American College of Sports Medicine Website. Accessed February 16, 2019

3. The Home of Interval Training. Tabata Training Website. Accessed February 16, 2019


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