The complete fitness guide on how to perform Tabata

Last Updated December 20th, 2021

Uncovering Tabata Protocol

We have come across numerous types of workouts that help you to keep the body in shape.  If you are reading this article, you may be one who is already following a specific workout routine.  No doubt your workouts are helping you in accomplishing desired fitness goals, let me introduce you to a new workout regimen that is on par and in fact even better in certain ways.

This fitness routine is called Tabata workouts, which is named after Dr. Izumi Tabata who developed “Tabata Protocol.”  Tabata workouts fall under the HIIT group where rigorous exercise routine is followed for a short period of time such as four minutes.

Dr. Izumi Tabata was working with the Japanese Olympic team participating in the speed skating event.  Since speed skating requires tremendous fitness in order to attain speed, Dr. Tabata came up with a protocol where the fitness regimen not only burns fat and improve strength but also improves the cardiovascular system.

This protocol consists of a four minutes regimen consisting of 20 seconds HIIT workout followed by 10 seconds of rest involving eight rounds.  It was determined that following this protocol can improve aerobic capacity as well as the anaerobic capacity by 28%.  Similarly, 8fit Tabata protocol was formulated for bodyweight exercises.

What is Tabata Protocol?

This is a specific type of workout program formulated to increase your aerobic as well as anaerobic capacity.  This is a high-intensity interval training protocol lasting about four minutes.  The protocol should be followed with the following instructions, aggressive workout for 20 seconds, followed by rest for 10 seconds.  Follow this cycle for eight rounds which accounts for four minutes in total.  The aggressive training may include any of the following such as push-ups, squats, as well as the burpees.  You can even try Kettlebell exercises which works on the whole body.  A complete Tabata workout would include Squats for four minutes, four minutes of push-ups, mountain climbers for four minutes, and four minutes of burpees.


You can start the workout program with push-ups for a period of 20 seconds, followed by 10 seconds of rest.  Repeat the same cycle for eight times, which would complete the first four minutes of exercise.  After completion of the first four minutes, you can take a rest of one minute to recuperate.

Your second four-minute cycle would start immediately after the rest of one minute.  Now, start with squats and follow the same 20 seconds rigorous exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest and complete the set after eight cycles.  Now, the second step would be complete.  Follow this with one-minute rest.

Repeat the same procedure for burpees and the Mountain Climbers as well.  Following Tabata protocol is time-saving as you would complete all the four types of HIIT exercises in a period of 20 minutes.  This type of workout regimen seems to gel well with the fast-paced lifestyle we follow in the modern era.

Classification of Tabata exercises

Tabata exercises can be classified into two main types namely Beginners and Advanced.  Since it is a HIIT type of exercise regimen, it is not easy to complete the exercise regimen right from the first day.  Beginners would find it difficult to cope with advanced training and hence it is recommended to start with beginners first and then go to the advanced exercise.  The beginners exercise and advanced exercise regimen are discussed below.

Beginners workout plan

Squats – This is considered to be one of the simple but yet effective ways of exercising.  This is a strengthening exercise and when done appropriately can provide wonderful benefits.  Do this exercise by following the instructions such as first standing straight upright.  Next, put your hands forward and try to sit down on your ankles.  To do this, dive the hip back and then go down by bending the knee.  It is highly important to keep your spine in a straight line.

Try to go down as much as possible.  Now with the help of your heels stand back to the original position.  To make the maneuver easier, keep your legs apart so as to not lose balance.  When going downward, the hip and the knee would flex whereas the ankles would dorsiflex.  When you go upwards, the knee and the hip extend making your ankle to plantarflex.  Keeping your hands in the front help with balance and also maintain and straight spine while going downward.


This exercise mainly concentrates on strengthening the abdominal muscles.   In fact, this is one of the most common exercises performed worldwide.  This exercise is mainly followed to work on the rectus abdominis muscle.  It is important to perform this exercise with caution so as to not cause damage to the back.

First, lie down flat on the floor.  Next, bend your knees and keep the feet on the floor.  Next place your hands just above the ears.  Make sure to not interlock your fingers behind the head.  Now, lift the shoulders above the ground for about four inches at which point you would feel pressure in the abdominal area.  Next, slowly lower the body back on the floor.  Repeat the same maneuver as discussed earlier in the Tabata protocol.

Jog in place

This exercise is considered to be highly effective in warming up the body and regulating the cardiovascular system.  To perform this exercise, you need to stand on a flat floor with feet apart.  Now start jogging by bringing the knee up to waist height and simultaneously moving the hands in the sides.  Make sure to land on the ball of the feet so as to avoid straining of the legs.

Front Lunges

Front lunges work on several muscles at the same time such as hamstrings, quadriceps, hips, glutes, as well as the inner thigh muscles.  To perform this exercise, first, stand on a flat surface and keep your feet apart at a comfortable distance.  Next, keep both hands on your hip.  Now, bring one leg forward and bend both knees with the hip dropping simultaneously.  Make sure that your front leg is bent at a 90 degree angle and the knee and toes of your back leg are touching the floor.  Once you have reached your desired position, now return back to the original position by putting pressure on the heel of your front leg.  Make sure to not bend the front knee more than 90 degrees.  The flexibility of your body would gradually increase with time and the exercise would become much easier.

Advanced workout plan

Now that we have an understanding as to what can be done in a beginners workout plan, let us have a look at the advanced plan where more rigorous exercises would be involved.  Make sure to follow the instructions appropriately as execution is more important than the speed.  You can start these exercises once you are comfortable with the beginner’s workout plan.  The advanced workout has four types of exercises and includes:

Dynamic squats

This exercise concentrates on strength and conditioning of the body.  Performing this exercise can improve body strength as well as improve endurance.  It concentrates on numerous muscles including the back muscles, shank, hip, as well as the thigh muscles.

Perform this exercise by standing straight on a flat surface.  Now jump slightly up, dive the hips downward and keep your feet apart while landing and bending your knees.  The hands of the palm would meet at the chest level in order to maintain balance.  Do all these maneuvers simultaneously at the same time.  Continue the same procedure continuously for the desired period of time.

Push-up and burpee

This is an aerobic exercise meant to strengthen the body.  Perform this exercise by standing on a flat surface.  First, squat down and place your hands on the sides of the body.  Now put the weight of your body on your hands and jump and place the feet at the back which will bring you to a push-ups position.  Now, reverse the same action, by jumping and bringing your feet forward with the weight of the body on both the hands.  Now push back to the standing position with the help of your hands and hip muscles.  Finally, complete the exercise with a jump in standing position.  Make sure to complete the maneuvers rather than aiming for speed.  It is important to keep your spine straight at all times.  Beware that trying to speed up the exercise routine can make you off balance.

Spiderman plank

This type of exercise is highly recommended as it helps to strengthen the arms, builds flexibility, tones your abs, and flexes your hips and thighs.  First, you need to attain a plank position by placing both your elbows on the floor.  Next, extend your feet backward and balance your legs on the toes.  Make sure to keep your body in a straight position by stretching all the muscles as much as possible.  Now bring the right leg towards the right elbow and then return the right leg to the same position.  Similarly, bring the left leg to the left elbow and then back to the same position.  Continue this maneuver for the desired period of time.  Keeping your body in a straight line is highly important.  Do not try to hold the breath during the exercise and try to breathe slowly and steadily.

Bulgarian split squats and hop

This is a single leg exercise aimed to strengthen hamstrings, quadriceps, and hip flexors.  This exercise can correct muscle imbalances.  Start the exercise by keeping your feet apart at a comfortable position in front of a knee height table.  Now place one foot on the table behind and dive your hip as well as simultaneously bending the knee of the other leg.  Balance your body by moving both the hands up together.  Make sure not to bend the knee of the front leg more than 90 degrees.

How can Tabata workout help me?

As we already have several workout regimens which are quite effective, we need something that outsmarts the others.  No doubt that Tabata workout is meant for strength and endurance, but how is it different from others.  Tabata workout stands out in two important departments.  Firstly, it helps in increasing VO2max.  VO2max refers to the amount of oxygen utilized during an exercise regimen.

When there is an increase in oxygen consumption, it naturally increases the energy level which is essential during intense physical activity.  Secondly, it helps in increasing the anaerobic capacity by 28%.  Short bursts of vigorous exercise involve anaerobic exercises such as weight lifting, sprinting, etc.  Since this can be increased by 28%, it is a big boost to endurance.  All these benefits make Tabata workouts a great fitness regimen to try out.



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