I've had good results following the standard Tabata Protocol (20s "max" and 10s rest).

I do this protocol 5 days a week and mt bike pretty hard the 6th day. In the "work" cycle on the Tabata protocol I can reach "max" in about 15s.

But I got to the point where it takes me 15s or so to reach max This is on an exercise bike "out of the saddle". I could probably go a little harder by "running" rather than "jumping" onto each pedal but I find that tough to coordinate on a bike.

(I am not meaning to humblebrag here: I'm the slowest person on my weekly group Mt. Bike rides. I cardio is my limitation).

I'm currently on 25s /12s rest x 12 Reps. But.... I'm not completely wiped at the end (super tired for sure). And on each work rep I don't reach the "poop my pants" point . And I think I should be. On my mt. bike rides I find that I can now go "all out" for longer (maybe 1-2 minutes before reaching that "poop point", up from about 30 s or so). But the guys I'm riding with can just keep at that speed for 10 minutes. (I just want to keep up so I'm not slowing everyone down :)

What is the best way to increase it?

  • Increase the work length?
  • Decrease the rest?
  • Increase the # of Reps?

And let me know whether you've measured positive results for yourself or if there is some citation of someone else who has measured it.

The Gibala Regimen and others I've seen which are designed to be less intensive increase the Work and rest cycle and reps to: 60 w/ 75 r x 8-12 Reps. So maybe that's my answer.

  • 1
    How often do you Tabata? Doing it daily helped me a lot.
    – VPeric
    Jan 18, 2014 at 22:38

1 Answer 1


If you can go harder by "running" rather than "jumping" then you should do that.

Anything that you can do for 1 to 2 minutes isn't "all out". You need to find a way to go all-out, 100%, in that 25 seconds. Messing with the edges of the protocol--5 seconds less rest or more work effort--isn't going to solve this central issue. Increase or decrease the stationary bike resistance until you find the sweet spot where you can go all-out.

If you absolutely can't go all-out on a bike, then try some other exercise where you are certain that you can't go any faster or get any more reps in. Maybe that's running, maybe it's air squats, maybe it's punching a heavy bag.

Or, switch to a different protocol that understands that you won't be going at 100%. The Gibala Regimen sounds fine. But also consider non-biking modes of exercise: sport-specific abilities can actually interfere with improving your cardio. If it's metabolic conditioning you want (even it it's conditioning for biking), and you can't sufficiently challenge yourself with biking, then bodyweight or dumbbell high-intensity intervals could better help you hit maximum cardio intensity.

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