Tabata: The Four Minute Fat Burning Workout

By      20-Nov 2019       Reading Time: 7 Mins

Tabata: The Four Minute Fat Burning Workout

Gym could be monotonous so here’s Tabata to add some newness to your daily exercise routine. Discovered by Japanese scientist Dr. Izumi Tabata and a team of researchers from the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo, Tabata training is something which can be tried by everyone. A style developed to train Olympic speed skaters.

Tabata workout is high-intensity interval training that lasts for four minutes but it’s likely to be one of the longest four minutes you’ve ever endured.

The structure  of the exercise program is as follows:

  • Work out hard for 20 seconds: 
  • Rest for 10 seconds
  • Complete 8 rounds

Pushing yourself as hard as you can for 20 seconds and resting for 10 seconds is how it is performed. This is called one set and this comprises eight sets of each exercise. 

Many variations of exercises can be added to the sets like you could do squats, push-ups, burpees or any other exercise that works on large muscle groups.  

We generally tend to look for the most efficient way to get in a quality workout so we can get on with the rest of our day and not feel tired. The question comes, is it really possible to get an effective workout done in a short amount of time, like four minutes?

The answer might be a big yes, if doing Tabata intervals. These workouts will give you a newfound respect for interval training and show you exactly why shorter doesn’t always equate to easier.

The formula for a Tabata workout is simple: 20 seconds of quick and maximum effort workout, followed by 10 seconds of rest. Again, just because it sounds simple and short, don’t make the mistake of thinking that it’s easier. 

Purpose of this workout:

To pack as many repetitions as possible into 6 to 8 sets of 20-second work periods. When the sixth effort rolls around, muscles will be filled with lactic acid, making a simple exercise like lunges more difficult.

In Tabata workouts, a full recovery between sets is never possible. Your heart rate should be at or near the maximum and you should be out of breath by the end of a four-minute session.

Get Set to Sweat

Having no one specific workout or plan is the best. A Tabata protocol is a guideline for creating a high-intensity interval workout. It can be used almost any exercise as long as you adhere to the 20/10 work to rest ratio. This will allow you to keep your workouts fresh and interesting, as you can always change your exercises in order to try something new.

All you need to get started is a stopwatch or timer and a lot of willpower. Since exercises require efforts that are so hard, make sure to complete a dynamic warm-up before you begin.

Show All the Right Moves

Build your own Tabata workout by selecting one or two exercises as per your choice and convenience. You can complete six rounds using only one similar exercise or you can alternate between two different exercises if you choose. The best part is there’s no need for any equipment other than your timer. If you’re a beginner, using only your bodyweight for most of the exercises will get the job done. 

If you are a beginner, here are a few examples of what a Tabata workout you might like:

All workouts: 20 seconds hard, 10 seconds rest. Repeat for 8 times and then continue on to the next move.

  • Workout 1: For Beginners

Modified push ups
Jumping jacks
Upright row with weights

  • Workout 2—For Beginners

Mountain climbers
Bicep curls with weights, if new to lifting
Reverse lunge with or without weights
Hold plank

  • Workout 3—Intermediate

Shoulder press with weights
Lunge Jump (Alternate legs)
Tricep kick backs
Double jump rope

  • Workout 4—Intermediate

Russian twists with weight


Butt kicks


Other option is to combine a Tabata workout into your treadmill workout. Try out 3-4 interval cycles by setting speed to a sprint or cranking up incline. A 20-second sprint or uphill and then 10 seconds rest. Repeat for about 8-10 times before resuming your normal workout. Adding these can increase the heart rate and also make the time go much faster on the treadmill. 


Before starting a fitness or workout routine, please consult a physician and a fitness trainer for approval to begin your exercise program. Happy sweating!


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