Tabata Versus HIIT: What's The Difference?
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.
|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|
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