What is Tabata?

Tabata is a type of interval training that lasts 4 minutes, it is broken down into 20s of all out effort and 10s of rest.

Tabata originated from the mind of Izumi Tabata, the original test was performed on elite athletes on stationary bikes in 1996 at the University Ritsumeikan in Japan. The athletes were split into two groups, one group was to perform the known Tabata formula we know today, the other group was set at a steady 70% of their V02 max.

Both groups exercised for 5 days with the intense group performing 4 days of the 20/10 split for 4 minutes and 1 day of steady state cardio, the other group performed an hour a day for 5 days. After 6 weeks the intense group made significant improvements in cardiorespiratory fitness and endurance fitness. They also made improvements to their anaerobic fitness all in just 76 minutes a week of exercise over 5 hours a week from the moderate group.

What are the effects of Tabata on fat loss?

Well that’s what really matters, is it not!

This study from 2020 shows by doing Tabata it may increase base metabolism by boosting irisin concentrations in the blood. Irisin is a hormone the body produces to regulate your bodies energy usage. So more irisin in your body means better physical performance and quicker fat loss.

A long time a go now when Tabata was becoming popular in gyms and gym members training programmes I remember reading that if performed to max effort Tabata can burn calories upto 48 hours later. Unfortunately, I can’t find what I read to back this up but I did a Tabata battle rope workout and the next day I was ravenous I couldn’t satisfy my hunger and couldn’t understand why until I remembered the Tabata workout I did.

Whether it truly burns calories up to 48 hours later or not if you work as hard as you can in that 4 minutes you are going to achieve significant calorie burning results to aid your weight lose goals.

How to add Tabata into your training

Start with just one Tabata workout a week on top of your weight training and see what the results are. This is extremely intense so it isn’t for everyone, just understand that how hard you go in rounds one and two will not be the same as in the later rounds. All you need to do is work as hard as you can, even if it seems like you’re barely moving at all, that’s fine as long as that is your 100% effort at that time.

The plan is not to burn yourself out for the whole week and affect other forms of exercise so if your feeling tired and lethargic it’s too much just stick to normal HIIT variations. Elite cyclists are only allowed to do 4/5 a week so I would recommend no more then 2 a week unless you are super fit and don’t have a physically demanding job.


Foster C, et al. (2015). The effects of high intensity interval training vs steady state training on aerobic and anaerobic capacity.

Gibala MJ, et al. (2012). Physiological adaptations to low-volume, high-intensity interval training in health and disease.

Murawska-Cialowicz E, et al. (2020). Effect of HIIT with Tabata protocol on serum irisin, physical performance, and body composition in men.

Tabata I, et al. (1996). Effects of moderate-intensity endurance and high-intensity intermittent training on anaerobic capacity and VO2max.

Tsiji K, et al. (2017). Effects of short‐lasting supramaximal‐intensity exercise on diet‐induced increase in oxygen uptake.