What exactly is Tabata ? Is it just a form of HIIT ?

What makes Tabata effective in fat burning or providing thermogenic effects ?

  • 4
    This might be ironic, but what is Tabata? I have absolutely no idea what you're talking about :\
    – Ivo Flipse
    Commented Jun 27, 2011 at 19:40
  • I was curious about this too when i read this thread: fitness.stackexchange.com/questions/1547/… @Meade Rubenstein Mentions it. I'm curious what it really is.
    – chrisjlee
    Commented Jun 27, 2011 at 21:47

3 Answers 3


Tabata is a HIIT method and the process is very straightforward, from RossTraining.com:

Tabata intervals consist of 20 seconds of maximum intensity exercise, followed by 10 seconds of rest. This cycle is repeated 8 times (for a total of 4 minutes)... you can apply this protocol to almost any exercise. A few popular examples include hitting a heavy bag, sprinting, jumping rope, or performing bodyweight calisthenics (ex. squats and pushups).

It originated from a study performed by Dr. Izumi Tabata in which he discovered that the short bursts of high intensity were far more effective than slower paced, even rythmed exercise.

As for myself I have only implemented it with sprinting after reading more about it in this article from Mark Sisson, but I can say that it certainly does seem to be very effective and exhausting!


Here's a link to the Library of Medicine article discussing the effectiveness. Yes, it's a form of HIIT, the basic idea is 8 - 20 second intervals followed by 10 seconds of rest. Is it effective? the studies performed have shown it to be and I can tell you from first hand experience that it's the most effective program I've used to build endurance and loss weight (real weight, not just temp water weight). Like any other program, you get out of it what you put into it. You need to push the intensity of each exercise as much as you can and limit the rest periods between the exercises. You can apply the Tabata protocol to any body weight or light weight (including kettlebell) routines you have.

Here's the link to the Ross Training article again: http://www.rosstraining.com/articles/tabataintervals.html - worth reading a few times.

Here's a link to an interval timer I use: http://gymboss.com/ (you can also download iPhone timers).

Apply it to heavy bag training, running, kettlebells and you will be very happy with the results.

  • 2
    Shameless plug to draft on the link to the iPhone timer link: I have a H.I.I.T. soundtrack generator which will generate an mp3 for any sprint,rest,sprint,rest,[...] timing sequence. The generated mp3 works on android, iphone, and [any other mp3 player]. This is especially useful for android, as all the android apps that I found stopped playing the timing mp3 when the screen was locked -- which is just dumb. Commented Dec 1, 2011 at 18:44
  • Good to see the link. It's a shame that the uncertainty of the results is so substantial: 53 +/- 5 to 58 +/-3 versus an increase of 7 is far from reliable data. I've just discovered Tabata, and it would be great to see some more substantial research on this craze.
    – andrewb
    Commented Sep 9, 2013 at 12:02

This is the single most exhausting training that you could take and yet it lasts so little. Regardless of the shape you are in, it's really hard. If you are in great shape, your sprint will be faster. If in mediocre shape, your sprint will be slower. But in general, if you push yourself, both types will be barely breathing at the end. :)

I don't recommend trying it if you are not in at least a reasonably good shape. There's an excellent Guerrilla Cardio iPhone app for it as well.

The base assumption is that after punishing yourself for those 4 minutes, you body is overloaded heavily and it will take hours to get back to normal rhythm. And for those hours, your blood will run faster through your body and thus chip away the accumulated fat. Hence it's recommended to do this on the off-days, when you are not practicing other stuff (gym, running etc).

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