Man Wiping Sweat From Forehead With Towel



In April I wrote a blog post- High Intensity Interval Training- The Shortcut To Losing Fat.

In that post I mentioned the “Tabata Method” developed by Dr. Izumi Tabata in 1996. His training protocol was based on studies of the Japanese Olympic speed skating team.

The Tabata protocol calls for an all-out, more than 100% intense effort for 20 seconds, followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeated eight times for a total of eight cycles or four minutes not including warming up and cooling down.




While I mentioned both HIIT (high intensity interval training) as well as the Tabata Method in my post, sort of lumping them together, there is a difference between the two.

That difference is intensity.

As intense as a HIIT workout might be, the Tabata form of HIIT is that much more intense.

As Dr. Tabata put it in the March 24, 2013 issue of The Guardian:

“Allout effort at 170% of your VO2 max is the criterion of the protocol. If you feel okay afterwards, you’ve not done it properly. The first 3 repetitions will feel easy, but the last two will feel impossibly hard. In the original plan the aim was to get to eight, but some only lasted six or seven.”

According to the article, one commenter said, “When done correctly you should meet God.”

Okay, I don’t think that’s going to happen but his point and Dr. Tabata’s point is that you should feel completely wiped out. Obviously if you’re just starting out, you’ll need to start slowly and increase the intensity over time.

By the way, I have no idea why the guy behind our sweating hero is smiling. He must not have done a Tabata workout. 😎


My Tabata Routine


I perform my Tabata routine at the end of my regular resistance training workout. I do it on the treadmill because I find it the easiest to switch up between the intense effort and the rest portions.  I crank up the speed on the treadmill, leave it running, and during the rest portion I just jump off and rest my feet on either side of the speeding track. When it’s time to run again, I grab the handles to steady myself while I regain my footing.

After I came across Dr. Tabata’s definition last week I adjusted my Tabata workout accordingly. I used to turn up the speed on the treadmill to 8.0 (my gym uses the Matrix line of treadmills) which left me breathing very, very hard, but able to complete all 8 cycles. This morning I increased the speed to 10.0 and was only able to finish 4 cycles. Next time I’m going to 9.5 and then work up to 10.0 again.  If my heart doesn’t explode, you’ll be reading another post from me next week. 😉

For those of you who like to cycle, in Dr. Tabata’s original study, it was required that cyclists be able to maintain a pace of 85 RPM (repetitions per minute) for the full twenty seconds or they were disqualified. So that’ll give you a goal to shoot for.


A Big Caveat


Four minutes may sound easy, and you do want to push yourself, but begin very slowly and work your way up.  An accepted formula to calculate your maximum heart rate is 220 minus your age.  If you’re 60, that means your maximum heart rate is 160 (220-60).  If you do a Tabata workout correctly, you will be exceeding your maximum heart rate. That’s why I say begin slowly but probably more important, check with your doctor first for any conditions that might make it unwise or unhealthy for you to follow this protocol.

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