Tabata Training

The ultimate timesaving HIIT workout

Tabata Training - The ultimate timesaving HIIT workout
If you are like most of us, some days you are really crunched for time. Work, kids, meetings or other engagements have completely taken over your day, and your typical 45-60 minute gym session is just not happening. Does that mean you skip it all together? Maybe—unless you have a backup plan.

You should always have a few short training sessions in your back pocket for those days when you are really pressed for time. These should be sessions that you can do anywhere and in less than 30 minutes. One of the best options for this is Tabata training.

Tabata training was founded by a Japanese researcher named Izumi Tabata. He conducted tests on two groups of athletes comparing moderate intensity training with high intensity interval training. The results were that the athletes training in high intensity interval training improved their aerobic systems as well as their anaerobic system. The athletes who did the moderate intensity training only improved their aerobic system and had little to no increase in their anaerobic system.

What does this mean for you? Simply put—work harder for shorter periods of time and get serious results.


One round of Tabata lasts 4 minutes. You will perform 20 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of rest for 8 rounds. In theory, your training session could be 4 minutes long. However, most often, multiple Tabata rounds are performed (3– 6) for a longer training session (15 – 30 minutes).

Exercise selection is extremely important with a Tabata session. This is a grueling style of training, and you want to make sure that the exercises you select are ones that can be completed for the duration and are simple enough that having a 10-second recovery between sets does not slow down the movement. You need to be able to go right back into the exercise without a lot of set up.

Beginners can use a scaled-down Tabata approach. Instead of doing 20 seconds of work with 10 seconds of rest, increase the rest interval to 20 seconds and/or decrease the work interval to 10 seconds.

Confused yet? Don’t worry. It’s actually very simple and fun. Below are three of my favorite Tabata workouts. Use these when you are crunched for time, or when you need a shake up in your training routine.


Tabata Training - The ultimate timesaving HIIT workout15 minutes (including recovery)
Perform 4 rounds (20 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of rest) of exercise number 1. Then, perform 4 rounds of exercise number 2. Rest for 1 minute, move to the next station and repeat the cycle.

Station A:

1. Jump Squats
2. Push Ups

Station B:
1. Alternating Reverse Lunges
2. Valslide Body Saws (Substitute Stability/Swiss Ball Pikes if you don’t have Valslides)

Station C:
1. Battling Ropes (Substitute Mountain Climbers or Jump Rope if you don’t have Battling Ropes)
2. TRX Rows


10-15 minutes (including recovery)

This is a bare-bones workout using just one piece of equipment. Perform one round (4 minutes) of Tabata, then rest for 2 minutes. Repeat.

BIKE TABATA: Using an AirDyne Bike (Or Any Upright Bike): Perform an all out sprint on the bike for 20 seconds then recover for 10 seconds. Do this 8 times and then rest for 2 minutes. Repeat 1 – 2 more times.


20 minutes (including recovery)
In this workout, you will use one exercise for each Tabata station. Complete the 20:10 for 8 rounds then rest 1 minute. Move to the next station. You will complete this entire cycle just once.

Station #1: Push-ups
Station #2: KB or DB Goblet Squat
Station #3: TRX Rows
Station #4: Battling Ropes (Substitute Mountain Climbers or Jump Rope if you don’t have Battling Ropes)

Use the Tabata method when you need a short, intense workout. These are brutal and much harder than you initially think. Even though you are going for time and speed, focus on your technique through every exercise. I recommend a Tabata session once every few weeks to crank up the intensity or when you are in a time crunch. Give these a try and let me know how they go for you.

Callie Durbrow

Callie Durbrow is the owner of Durbrow Performance Training and the author of Strong and Sexy in 25 Minutes.

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