Tabata Training Proves Effective

by Ryan Halvorson on Aug 22, 2013

Making News

Tabata training—a protocol in which 20 seconds of high-intensity activity are followed by 10 seconds of rest, with that cycle repeating for 4 minutes—could be considered one of the earlier versions of high-intensity interval training. Researchers from Auburn University in Montgomery, Alabama, recently looked at Tabata training to determine its effectiveness.

Led by Michele Olson, PhD, FACSM, professor of exercise science at the university, the small study involved 15 individuals (12 women, 3 men) whose caloric expenditure was measured before, during and 30 minutes after a Tabata workout. Results showed that participants burned 13.5 calories per minute. Olson also discovered that at the 30-minute mark, each individual’s metabolic rate was double what it had been before the workout.

“This particular particular style of interval training has profound effects even on short-term, postexercise metabolism,” Olson explained. “It would take five times the amount of typical cardio exercise, like a 20-minute brisk walk, to shed the same number of calories that [are burned in] a 4-minute Tabata.”

Want to introduce Tabata to your clients?

Here are Olson’s tips for a safe and successful training session:

  • Be sure everyone is sufficiently warmed up.
  • Use exercises or equipment that rely on large muscle groups; examples include jump squats or a stationary bicycle.
  • Use modifications like body weight squats or treadmill walking at a brisk pace for less fit individuals.
  • For new participants, start with four or six rounds, working up to the full eight.

The research was presented at the 60th annual conference of the American College of Sports Medicine and the fourth annual World Conference on Exercise. An abstract was published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise (2013; 45 [5], S421).

IDEA Fitness Journal , Volume 10, Issue 9

© 2013 by IDEA Health & Fitness Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.

About the Author

Ryan Halvorson

Ryan Halvorson IDEA Author/Presenter

Ryan Halvorson is the chief content officer for Fit Scribe Media (; contributing editor for IDEA Health & Fitness Association; director of group training at Bird Rock Fit in La ...


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  • Liz Leedle

    I use a very similar method for my kettlebell workouts. It is an amazing, effective workout. At the end of my workout, you have just mastered either 30 or 20 minutes of full kettlebell work. I dare you to try this! Great for all levels.
    Commented Jul 18, 2014
  • Lisa Lorraine Taylor

    I signed up for the Tabata Bootcamp Certification at IDEA World 2013 with Mindy Mylrea...this 9 hour certification was AWESOME!! After taking this workshop, I would really recommend that any and all Fit Pros that are interested in teaching Tabata Workouts/Bootcamps become certified in this area as there's so much to learn getting the correct information can help you become a better instructor!
    Commented Sep 14, 2013