Romanticizer and Geek-in-Residence

tabataby Lauren

Taba-Wha? Fitness fanatics likely know what this is, but I was completely clueless when a co-worker introduced me to this workout.  Don’t click away. I know I said the ‘W’ word…but seriously, if you’re as scared as me to jump into exercise, this is an amazingly un-intimidating way to do it.

According to“Tabata training is a High Intensity Interval Training (H.I.I.T) workout that lasts four minutes.”

Yes. You heard that right. FOUR. MINUTES.

You and I both know, you can handle almost four minutes of just about anything. Even if they aren’t an EASY  four minutes.  Essentially, you will be:

  • Working out HARD for 20 seconds
  • Rest for 10 seconds
  • Complete eight rounds

You can do whatever exercise you fancy. Squats, push-ups, wall-sits…etc. You do those, HARD for 20 seconds, then rest. Then repeat.

Okay, I lied a LITTLE bit about it just being four minutes.  Because let’s be honest, you may want a BIT more of a sweat-session. So what you do is put together Tabata workouts…like this one from

An example of a 20-minute Tabata workout:

  • Pushups (20 seconds hard, rest for 10, 8 times over)
  • rest for one minute
  • Squats (20 seconds hard, rest for 10, 8 times over)
  • rest for one minute
  • Rows (same as above)
  • Sit ups (same as above)

Of course, you could do one set of pushups hard for 20, rest, then move on to squats, and so forth, so one muscle group doesn’t get tired. Whatever you want. And there are oodles of suggested Tabata workouts online.  So you’ll never be at a loss for ideas.

The beauty of Tabatas is that they’re effective. Here’s some more good info from on the proof:

Tabata training was discovered by Japanese scientist Dr. Izumi Tabata and a team of researchers from the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo.

Tabata and his team conducted research on two groups of athletes: one group trained at a moderate intensity level while the other group trained at a high intensity level. The moderate intensity group worked out five days a week for a total of six weeks; each workout lasted one hour. The high intensity group worked out four days a week for six weeks; each workout lasted four minutes and 20 seconds (with 10 seconds of rest in between each set).

The results; group one had increased their aerobic system (cardiovascular), but showed little or no results for their anaerobic system (muscle). Group two showed much more increase in their aerobic system than group one, and increased their anaerobic system by 28 percent.

In conclusion, high intensity interval training has more impact on both the aerobic and anaerobic systems.

So there you have it.  Work smart, not hard (or rather…long).

If you’re having a hard time getting back into the exercise groove, give this stuff a try. It goes by quick, feels doable, and you really have a sense of accomplishment once it’s over.

Oh–another key detail–make sure to download a Tabata timer app on your phone or your computer.  (There are tons in the Apple store, as well as handy websites like these.) It makes everything that much easier.