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The Tabata Protocol Offers the Shortest and Most Intense Workout

I am a big fan of mixing it up when I exercise. I am easily bored, almost certainly A.D.D., and need to have a different routine in order to keep myself engaged and present. I try to work out three mornings a week with a Crossfit instructor. Recently, my instructor introduced me to the concept of Tabata.

The Tabata Protocol has been said to be simply the best supra-aerobic cardio workout ever created. Izumi Tabata researched the concept of a quicker more intense workout vs. a traditional 60 minute aerobic workout. The 4 minute exercise group had to bike at 90 RPMs at 170% of VO2max. That’s a very high speed and level of intensity.  At the end of the 6 week study, the 4 minute exercise group had improved both their aerobic and anaerobic markers of fitness. The 60 minute group improved their aerobic fitness (not as much as the 4 minute group) and saw no change in their anaerobic fitness.

Tabata is definitely intense. Defined as a timed workout that is only 4 minutes long, it consists of 20 seconds of hard (intense) exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest. Then you repeat this 8 times. Some Tabata protocols call for active rest, where you hold the position or weights used. You might think, “How difficult can just 4 minutes of work be?” I’m here to tell you, it’s like nothing you’ve ever experienced. The trick is to determine the exercises that you can do that will maximize your effort and also allow you to do a maximum amount of repetitions.

Here is the Tabata Routine that I did last week with my trainer:

Set 1: Squats. 20 seconds on, 10 seconds held in squat position. Repeat for 4 min.

Set 2: Push ups. 20 seconds, hold 10 seconds in plank. Repeat for 4 min.

Set 3: Medicine ball slams. 20 seconds, hold ball overhead for 10 seconds. Repeat for 4 min

Set 4: Crunches. Crunch for 20 seconds, hold in curled up crunch 10 seconds. Repeat for 4 min.

Set 5: Kettlebell swings. 20 seconds. Hold in an upright row for 10 seconds. Repeat for 4 min.

Set 6: lay on the floor and die.

Other Tabata routines include thrusters, alternating lunges, pull ups,  burpees and jump or box squats.

I highly recommend adding Tabatas to your workout routine. It’s an amazingly quick workout that will help you maximize the post workout calorie burn in a short amount of time and it will keep you moving.

Have you ever done a Tabata workout?

September 29th, 2010

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(Page 1 of 1, 3 total comments)


Funny, saw this a little while ago Carmen and tried it but had to stick with 2 minute intervals (not real fit like YOU) and then just did this same workout again this morning, 2 minute intervals. Uh huh, definately rocks!

posted Jan 20th, 2011 12:35 pm


It's fun. It is incredibly awful while you are doing it, but when you are done, it feels like you've accomplished something that many people wouldn't finish.

posted Sep 29th, 2010 1:56 pm

Brian C

This sounds crazy Carmen, I definitely want to try it!

posted Sep 29th, 2010 12:36 pm


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