Fitness & Training, Cardiovascular fitness

HIIT: Boost Your Cardio with the Tabata Method

The Tabata method is one of the most intense split training techniques. With a series of physical exercises performed 8 times in 4 minutes, it offers many advantages and suits any schedule. Who is it for and how do you organise a session?

About the Tabata Method

Created by Japanese scientist Professor Izumi Tabata, the Tabata method was originally designed for professional athletes. It was engineered to improve their performance by having them perform short, repetitive exercises over brief stretches with very little recovery time.

Push your limits with this extreme version of HIIT

The Tabata method is one of the most intense versions of HIIT, or High Intensity Interval Training. It works cardio at a certain level of intensity for the body. If you are ready to test and push your limits but have little time to devote to sports in your schedule, this variant of split training has everything you need.

The format of this intense cardio workout

The basic protocol for a Tabata workout is: 20 seconds of intensive exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeated 8 times for a complete cycle of 4 minutes in total. This simple to remember principle can be adapted to a wide variety of sports activities.

How does the Tabata Method allow you to boost your cardio?

Because the Tabata protocol affects the body very strongly, it is aimed at people with a good physical condition and regular sports practice. To succeed in maintaining a high rhythm, it is best to start by testing HIIT gradually, with more flexible periods of activity and rest.

Modular training for all goals

This split training method could be aimed at numerous different types of fitness regimes depending on how your own training is targeted.

You could seek out various activities in your training such as:

  • Improvement in respiratory and cardiac capacity.
  • Strengthening muscles.
  • Reduction of fat mass, replaced by more muscle mass for a healthy figure.
  • Calorie consumption through power work forcing the body to draw on its reserves.

What’s more, this training can be practiced anywhere, even without equipment, and its very short duration makes it a great asset for athletes in a hurry: it really has everything you need!

How to build a Tabata session

Tabata cardio sessions can be planned up to 3 or 4 times a week with a little training, providing rest periods between each session and alternating with other types of exercises. Warming up is essential before starting a cycle of Tabata exercises to avoid the risk of injury and to increase your heart rate gradually. To prepare for the session, choose 1 exercise to be repeated 8 times, 2 exercises to be repeated 4 times each, or 8 different exercises depending on your desires and goals.

Exercise ideas to vary your sessions

Tabata exercises are based on the great classics of body weight training. The possibilities are really unlimited:

  • Push Ups
  • Burpees
  • Jumping Jacks
  • Sprints
  • Jumping Rope
  • Mountain Climbers
  • Dips
  • Step Ups
  • Squats
  • Crunches
  • Etc.

To compose your Tabata series, don’t hesitate to vary the muscle groups used to tone the whole body and take advantage of all its benefits. Between each series of 20 seconds of activity, recuperate for 10 seconds, even actively if you wish (jogging with small strides, walking, stretching, etc.).

A few tips to optimise your Tabata workouts

To fully appreciate the benefits of the Tabata method, all you have to do is to take the necessary precautions to maintain the benefits of your sessions:

  • Hydrate well before, during and after each session.
  • Eat before training, ideally more than an hour beforehand, to provide the body with the energy necessary for this intense effort.
  • Adapt goals to your abilities and listen to your body.
  • Always take at least one day off after a session.

After a few sessions of HIIT to get used to split training, you’ll be ready to test your limits with the Tabata method. All you need is a timer to calculate your intervals: some smartphone apps are specially designed for this 4-minute protocol.

Check out our Fitness & Training page for more advice.