Tabata Versus HIIT: What's The Difference?

by Amanda Vogel, MA on Feb 10, 2014

Despite the buzz over “Tabata” training, many fitness clients—and some fitness pros—aren’t aware that they’re not doing true Tabata, meaning the protocol that was first analyzed and reported on in a 1996 edition of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise (Tabata et al. 1996).

“When professor Izumi Tabata performed his breakthrough research, the Tabata protocol was performed on high-level athletes on specialized cycle ergometers at 170% VO2max versus a control group exercising at steady state, 70% VO2max,” notes Bryce Taylor, DPT, a physical therapist at Downtown Physical Therapy in Indianapolis. In the study, the Tabata protocol was executed for 4 minutes at a time.

Of course, average fitness clients don’t really need to be doing true Tabata. In fact, it’s probably a good thing they aren’t: “If group instructors pushed their clients to this super-elevated heart rate for 4 minutes, class retention would be very low,” says Taylor.

Regardless of what you call it, the goal is to get people active and enjoying it. However, since Tabata has received a lot of media attention as a time-saving workout with astonishing results, it’s a good idea to instruct clients on what they can and can’t expect.

  TABATA HIIT
This table summarizes the differences between Tabata and other HIIT methods.
Why we call it that named after Japanese researcher Izumi Tabata stands for high-intensity interval training
Interval ratio 2:1 varies (e.g., 1:1, 2:1, 3:1, 1:2, etc.)
Length of intervals 20 seconds of work/10 seconds of recovery varies (e.g., work/recovery intervals—in seconds—are 30/30, 45/15, 60/30, etc.)
Number of cycles eight total (4 minutes) varies (e.g., 2.5 minutes, 3 minutes, 6 minutes, etc.)
Intensity anaerobic anaerobic or aerobic
To read the full article published in the February 2014 issue of the IDEA Fitness Journal click here.

References

Tabata, I., et al. 1996. Effects of moderate-intensity endurance and high-intensity intermittent training on anaerobic capacity and VO2max. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 28 (10), 1327–30.

© 2015 by IDEA Health & Fitness Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.

About the Author

Amanda Vogel, MA

Amanda Vogel, MA IDEA Author/Presenter

Amanda Vogel, MA, is a presenter, group exercise instructor and the owner of Active Voice, a writing, editing and consulting service for the fitness industry. She writes for leading magazines, includi...

3 Comments

  • Log In to Comment
  • Amanda Vogel

    Thanks for your feedback Mark! I am assuming you are addressing the question I asked in my Facebook post! Thanks for reading - I agree with what you wrote. - Amanda
    Commented Apr 09, 2014
  • Mark Nutting

    I believe most people don't care. I care when someone calls something a Tabata when it's a different work to rest ratio or more rounds. That just tells me they haven't read the research. However, I don't care if when doing the Tabata protocol, that my client doesn't reach 170% or VO2 max (some professionals get all up in arms about this). To me, when doing HIIT (including Tabatas), I want my clients to start to learn to push beyond their "normal" intensities and get into something harder. Tabatas are also very do-able for people because of the overall short duration. They can wrap their minds around 20 seconds at a time and only 4 minutes total. Gradually they can learn (and be prepared for) higher and higher intensities. IMHO
    Commented Apr 09, 2014

Trending Articles

Eight Fascinating Facts About Fascia

Fascia has been enjoying the limelight in the fitness industry as one of the hottest topics in recent conference programming, workshops and ...

Nutrition Strategies for Stress and Pain Management

Stress and pain diminish quality of life for millionsofAmericansandcostbillionsin healthcare expenses and lost wages.

Concurrent Training Can Jeopardize Strength Gains

A lot of people do concurrent training— cardio and strength training within the same session—because it seems to achieve multiple goals at the same time. It’s also a proven fat-burne...

Wake Up Your Glutes!

It’s a sad fact of modern life that the gluteus maximus, the largest muscle in the body, often becomes inhibited and “turns off.” Ironically, this inhibition can be the culprit behin...

Sample Class: Farmhand Fitness

Several years ago, I attended an IDEA World Fitness Convention™ session led by Michol Dalcourt, director of the Institute of Motion. D...

Cardio and Creative Core

Group fitness participants can’t seem to get enough of creative core and cardiovascular exercises. If you need innovative ideas to cha...

Playing Hurt

When Gray Cook was a high-school athlete, his coaches would comment, “That Gray Cook sure can play hurt.” He had over 20 fractures before he was 18, what with his love of football and moto...

A Back-Pain Solution

Starting with the basics. Personal trainer Jamal Younis first met 38-year-old Jessica in August 2014. Jessica, a former competitive collegia...

Excessive Thoracic Kyphosis: More Than Just Bad Posture

Excessive thoracic kyphosis (ETK) is a disproportionate forward rounding or curvature of the middle and upper back, also known as the thorac...

Coronary Artery Disease: What Every Fitness Professional Needs to Know

Developing a thorough understanding of coronary artery disease (CAD) can help fitness professionals fight one of the world’s deadliest...

Next