Quick HIIT Tabata Workout to Burn Major Calories

If you’re looking to spice up your fitness routine, why not up the intensity a bit and give the “Tabata workout” a try.

Tabata training is a High-Interval Training Workout also known as H.I.I.T lasting only 4 minutes.

The history of Tabata Training Protocol

Tabata training protocol was first developed by Dr. Izumi Tabata, a Japanese scientist and a team of researchers from the National Institute of Fitness and sports in Tokyo. 

Tabata and his team discovered a high level of effectiveness in high-intensity training while conducting research on two groups of athletes.

The first group trained at a moderate intensity level while the second group trained at a high-intensity level.

While the moderate intensity group’s workout was one hour long and performed 5 days a week, the other high-intensity group’s workout lasted 4 minutes and was performed 4 days a week. Both groups trained for six weeks. 

There was also a major difference in how two groups performed their workout.

Moderate intensity workout was non-stop, continuous work for the entire duration, whereas the high intensity workout was done in intervals of 20 seconds of exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest.

The results

Group 1 (Moderate-Intensity): This group increased their aerobic system (cardiovascular health), but showed little or no change for their anaerobic system (muscle).

Group 2 (High-Intensity): Participants in this group showed much more increase in their aerobic system than group 1, and increased in their anaerobic system by 28 percent.

The study showed High-Intensity Interval Training has more impact on both the aerobic and anaerobic systems.

Tabata workout Effectiveness

Professor Tabata states that only 4 minutes of his workout is the equivalent of one hour of jogging, one hour of cycling, two hours of walking, two hours of yoga, and an hour of Zumba.

4 minutes of “Tabata workout” is the equivalent of:

  • 1 hour of jogging
  • 1 hour of cycling
  • 2 hours of walking 
  • 2 hours of yoga
  • 1 hour of Zumba

As a result of its intensity, one “Tabata workout” can increase your anaerobic capacity, aerobic capacity, resting metabolic rate, VO2 max and can burn more calories than a 60-minute cardio session.

There is also no need for any chunky gym equipment or weights. Your bodyweight alone is all you need.

Isn’t this Just a Cardio Workout?

Tabata is different from standard cardio workouts in that it increases both anaerobic and aerobic capacity at the same time.

Regular cardio exercises only increase aerobic capacity.

Unlike typical cardio such as running or jogging, Tabata workouts can incorporate anaerobic exercises that have body strengthening and conditioning benefits including mountain climbers, air squats, jumps and burpees.

Some are even considered by many experts as resistance training exercises.

By incorporating these strengthening exercises, Tabata workouts’s benefits can far exceed the ones you’d get from just cardio or aerobics. 

Perform 5 minutes of warm-up exercises, such as marching in place, gentle squats and arm circles, to prepare your body for the intense exercises that are to follow.

Exercise Instructions:

Perform each exercise for 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds of rest between each move, before moving to the next exercise.

Mountain Climbers

  • Get down into a plank position so your hands are directly under your chest at shoulder width apart with straight arms.
  • Your body should form a straight line from your shoulders to your ankles.
  • Lift your right foot off the floor and slowly raise your knee as close to your chest as you can.
  • Then quickly return to the starting position and repeat with your left leg.
  • Continue alternating for 20 seconds.

Jump Squats

  • Stand straight with your feet shoulder width apart.
  • Lower your body as if you are going to sit in a chair. As soon as your thighs are parallel to the floor, jump upward with an explosive motion, raising your arms above your head.
  • As soon as you land, squat again and repeat. Continue for 20 seconds.


  • Stand up straight with your feet hip width apart. Squat down and place your hands on the floor in front of you, just outside of your feet.
  • Jump both feet back so that you are now in a plank position.
  • Jump the feet back in toward the hands.
  • Explosively jump into the air, reaching your arms straight overhead.

Ski Moguls

Start off in a squat position, and without standing back up straight, start jumping from side to side with your feet together.

Can Anyone Benefit from Tabata?

Anyone can benefit from Tabata, but everyone shouldn’t try it. Tabata was designed for individuals who are already in decent physical condition.

Because it raises the heart rate so rapidly and puts such a strain in the body, those who are not in good physical condition can suffer detrimental effects. 

As a whole, Tabata is a great way to burn an insane amount of calories and build muscle strength in a very short period of time.

Keep in mind, even if you can’t perform the moves at 100% effort, as long as you give it your all, you will still reap some benefits and start seeing a change in your body in no time.

Djohny Alexandre

NASM, ACSM - Co-Founder

Djohny Alexandre holds a B.S. in Exercise Science, as well as numerous certifications in nutrition and exercise including NASM, ACSM, and C.H.E.K.

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