Tabata vs. HIIT: What’s the Difference and Which is Better for Weight Loss

Written by
8fit Team @ 8fit
Written by
8fit Team @ 8fit
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We get asked this question all the time: Tabata vs. HIIT, which is the better workout? Well, the easy answer is that they’re both excellent for you. In fact, Tabata is a form of HIIT! HIIT stands for high-intensity interval training, and it’s a hit because it’s fast, effective and fun. Tabata, named after its founder, Dr. Izumi Tabata, is a form of HIIT that takes only four minutes per session.

At 8fit, we’re all about Tabata-style HIIT workouts because you can fit them into a busy schedule and they’re easy to mix up so that you never get bored. So instead of pitting Tabata vs. HIIT, why not give them both a go? In this article, we’ll show you how both are excellent high-intensity exercises that you can fit into any schedule.

What is HIIT? + workout session

First things first, let’s discuss what HIIT is all about. The acronym for high-intensity interval training, this type of exercise has been gaining ground because it provides an excellent workout in a short period. Revered for its ability to burn fat, HIIT is making waves in the fitness world thanks to its efficiency.

HIIT is an umbrella term for a variety of workouts that include short bursts of powerful movement, followed by regular short rest periods. The idea is to push yourself to your limit for a short period, rather than to spend half an hour or more practicing moderate exercises like jogging or cycling.

Although working out for only fifteen minutes or less may sound too good to be true, we can attest to its effectiveness. HIIT is one of 8fit’s favorite way to exercise. That’s because the exercises are perfect for busy people who may be juggling university, work, having a family or who are trying to maintain a social life. Since they require little time to complete, HIIT workouts are an attractive option for those who want to stay in shape but don’t have much time on their hands.

HIIT workout example

Interested in trying a quick HIIT workout? This one is for time. That means you should do the following exercises as quickly as possible with little rest in between, prioritizing form over speediness. Do three rounds of the following sequence, then record your time in your fitness journal or planner. Try to beat that number every time you do this workout (we suggest trying it once per week for eight weeks).

20 jumping jacks

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10 push-ups

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10 burpees

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20 Russian twists

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The best part? Stringing these exercise together into a HIIT is not only great for weight loss but great for cardiovascular health — plus, you can do them without the use of a single piece of workout equipment. You can practice HIIT at home, at the park, at the gym or in your hotel room — the beauty of this sort of training is that you can squeeze it into just about any lifestyle.

There’s more than one way to do a HIIT workout, and you can experiment with many different exercises until you find the style that suits you best. Tabata is one of the methods we like most due to its simplicity — it also requires very little time. But more on that in our next section.

Want to learn more about HIIT? Here's everything you need to know about HIIT Training.

What is Tabata + workout routine

Discovered in 1996 by Japanese professor, Dr. Izumi Tabata, the style of HIIT appropriately known as Tabata has become of favorite in recent years. Originally created as a way to train Olympic speed skaters, today it’s making a comeback, and not only with Olympians.

What makes Tabata a little different from other HIIT workouts is that it consists of the same exercise for four minutes whereas other HIIT routines could be for time or for reps and can include a variety of exercise movements (like our example above). With Tabata the first 20 seconds, you give around 80% or 90% of your power. Then, you rest for 10 seconds. Repeat the exercise for another 20 seconds, then rest again for 10 seconds. Complete these intervals eight times for a total of four minutes and you’ve got one Tabata.

Even just two rounds (8 minutes total) of Tabata can be an effective exercise that burns fat and gets your endorphins going, but you can continue adding more rounds as you level up in fitness. We like the simplicity, as it doesn’t take a lot of planning and can be adapted to whatever areas of your body you wish to strengthen.

Tabata workout example

The following workout contains two rounds of Tabata and features two key bodyweight exercises — the squat and the push-up.

Squat Tabata

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Start with your squat. Do 8 rounds of 20 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of rest. After the 8th round of work, rest for one minute.

Push-up Tabata

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Do push-ups for 20 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds. Do 8 intervals of that, then jump for joy because you’re done!

Tabata and HIIT: What’s the difference?

We want to make one thing clear: Tabata is a form of HIIT! Both are excellent for your health and can help you feel leaner, stronger and more confident. As we’ve stressed throughout the article, Tabata is just one form of many different styles of HIIT exercises.

In the 8fit app, we offer several HIIT varieties. You’ll have the chance to do reps, timed interval and Tabata workouts so you’ll never tire of the same routines. All the HIIT workouts we promote do a great job of getting your heart rate up, burning fat and zapping calories.

The main difference is that Tabata is completed in four-minute increments and completed with higher intensity than other HIIT exercises. Tabata’s rest period is also shorter, always lasting only 10 seconds. Other HIIT exercises can have longer recovery periods, sometimes up to two minutes. In other words, Tabata takes less time but can be more intense, whereas non-Tabata HIIT workouts are spread out a bit longer and are still very intense, but with longer recovery times.

One of our most popular HIIT exercises on the 8fit app is called the paleo run. In a paleo run, you’ll have to complete a certain number of reps as fast as you can (the exercises vary), then for one minute you’ll run, jog or dance in place before taking on the next exercise. It’s a challenge, but it’s a lot of fun — we promise!

Which is better, Tabata or HIIT?

The short answer is that both exercises are great for you, and one isn’t better than the other. However, if you do the same exercises over and over again, it’s your best bet to switch it up and perhaps alternate between Tabata and other HIIT styles so that the workouts are still effective for your body.

Tabata is, after all, a HIIT workout. So next time you want to mix it up from your usual Tabata routine, try another style of HIIT like one utilizing reps or time intervals. We love HIIT in general, so that means we love Tabata too!

HIIT, Tabata and weight loss

Both HIIT and Tabata are effective workouts that may even allow your body to keep burning calories even after you’re done working out — what we call the afterburn effect. It does so through a process known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) which can increase your calorie burn for up to 16-24 hours after working out.

Since you’re burning calories more efficiently in both workouts, they can be great for supporting weight loss if paired with a healthy diet.

Up for a challenge?

If rapid, powerful exercises that will get your heart pumping sounds like something you want to try, download 8fit Pro and start reaping the benefits. Perfect for students, business people and parents who want to stay in shape, relieve stress and feel happier, 8fit is versatile enough for anyone to use. It’s so much more than hardcore HIIT exercises — you’ll also get yoga courses and low-impact exercises that will fit people of all ages, shapes, sizes, and abilities.

One more thing: Because nutrition is 80% of the results you’ll see, it’s essential to fuel your body with recipes that take into account your particular needs. 8fit provides over 700 easy recipes that are perfect for absolute beginners and seasoned gourmands alike.

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