Tabata, a style of high-intensity interval training (HIIT), is a fantastic workout to burn fat and get fitter. A Tabata workout typically consists of eight rounds of 20-second maximum effort followed by a 10-second rest period for an intense, 4-minute workout — helping you get the most out of your workout in the shortest amount of time.
That said, it might be short, but it’s not easy. For beginners new to exercise, working out at maximum intensity might sound intimidating. To ease your first-time jitters, we explain why and how Tabata is a great workout style for all levels from beginners to pro athletes.
Tabata for beginners
Tabata and HIIT-style workouts are a fantastic way to bring your body into fat-burning mode, improve cardiovascular capacity, and increase total-body strength. In addition to these very appealing benefits, Tabata also gives your metabolism a boost for up to 24 hours after your workout. To get the most out of your Tabata workout — whatever your starting level — here are some essential tips:
Choose the right exercises
Choosing exercises that are appropriate for your fitness level is key — mainly because you perform these exercises at maximum effort. For example, a squat jump might seem like a doable exercise for the first 20 seconds, but this type of exercise completed at your maximum intensity for eight rounds will, 1. Be entirely exhausting, and 2. Not great for exercise newbies who haven’t perfected form yet. Exercises that are too difficult for your current skill level will cause you to fatigue early in the Tabata and increase the likelihood of your form slipping, leading to injuries.
Here are effective Tabata exercises for beginners:
Focus on your breathing
During a high-intensity workout, it’s important to think about your breath, especially during those 10-second recovery periods. Take deep breaths in through your nose and exhale out through your mouth to pump oxygen into your muscles, aiding both fat burn and muscle recovery. Deep breathing also helps you stay focused on the workout.
Cool down properly
After any workout, it’s important to wind your body down. A proper cooldown provides a smooth transition back into everyday life by bringing your breathing and heart rate back to normal. A cooldown also aids muscle recovery and improves flexibility if stretching is incorporated. We recommend holding static stretches for at least 15 seconds after each workout. Follow the cues in the total-body stretching routine below.
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Get started with Tabata exercises
Now that you understand how to rock those Tabata workouts, give these routines a go for at least one week with one rest day in between.
Tabata workout #1: Complete eight rounds of 20 seconds of bodyweight squats followed by 10 seconds of rest
Tabata workout #2: Complete eight rounds of 20 seconds of push-ups (modifications here) followed by 10 seconds of rest
Tabata workout #3: Complete eight rounds of 20 seconds of mountain climbers followed by 10 seconds of rest
Ready for the next steps? Sign up for 8fit to get HIIT-inspired workouts, yoga classes and more. For best results, choose the right difficulty level for you and aim to work out at least four times a week.