Tabata Workouts for the Win

Pressed for time? This workout gives you a whole lot of bang for your buck!

pressed for time

One of the most common questions I get from potential clients involves workouts.

Namely, what to do. In this day and age, fast and effective is the name of the game.

Flexibility is also important (and I don’t mean stretching, though that is super important too!).

So let me tell you about TABATA workouts….

What is Tabata? 

If you stick with me to the end, I have a surprise for you! But first, a short history lesson….Tabata is a type of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), named after Dr. Izumi Tabata. You see, in the 1990’s, Dr. Tabata was hired to study the workout effectiveness of an elite team of athletes in Japan. 

You can read all about it HERE or HERE, but I’m going to skip right to the ending….

It was discovered that the pattern of 20 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest yielded the greatest results when it comes to aerobic and anaerobic fitness.

A typical “block” of work includes 8 rounds of the 20/10 split, for a total of 4 minutes.

During your work interval (20 seconds), the goal is to push yourself as hard as you can. Then, recover for 10 seconds before starting again.

Pretty cool, right??

I taught Tabata-based workout classes for a few years when I owned my fitness studio, and they were my favorite!! No two classes were ever the same, and things were easy to modify because you’re only in competition with yourself! Lower impact? Less intensity? MORE intensity? So simple to adjust!

And, as I always loved to tell my class participants….YOU CAN DO ANYTHING FOR 20 SECONDS!!!!

tabata 20 seconds

My students also appreciated the timers because sometimes we could get a little chatty….which meant that I was talking and not counting reps. Haha! Intervals allowed us to be as chatty as we wanted, while ensuring we wouldn’t do something like jumping jacks or bicep curls for 3 minutes straight. 

The best part? If all you have is 5 minutes….you can still work up a sweat!!

I taught a Tabata based class for years and discovered the ideal length is between 30-35 minutes. That’s enough time for 7-8 blocks, depending on how long you rest in between.

How to time your workout

I know what you’re thinking….how do I set my timer for these intervals??? Well, there’s an app for that! Actually, there are a lot of apps for that. I personally have Tabata Pro. It’s simple to use and I’ve never had an issue with it. I can easily listen to my own playlist when exercising and the “work/rest” voice just talks over the music.

If you aren’t particular about your music but are more into the timer aspect of it, search iTunes for “Tabata Music.” I’ve downloaded quite a few songs with the timer built into the beat, and it’s a nice change from time to time.

Tabata Pro App

Before I get to your surprise (and I promise it’s worth the way!), can I share another favorite thing I do with my interval timer??? Walking or jogging! It’s great for helping me increase my pace. I speed up during the “work” portions, and resume a comfortable pace during the “rest” portions. And if you’re mind is spinning with possibilities, YES, I even use it on my bike – both indoor and outdoor!! If you’re not a huge fan of the stationary bike, I highly recommend trying this as it makes the ride go so much more quickly!!


Now, if you’re just starting out, you’ll definitely want to stick with the 20/10 format, taking a 1-2 minute recovery break between blocks.

But…if you currently enjoy interval workouts and need a little variation, here are some options I have used and love!

  • Rather than rotating through exercises in your block, try doing the same exercise for the entire 4 minutes (with your rest breaks, of course), then change to a new exercise in the next block.
  • Increase the work time to 30 seconds (note, this changes the total block time too!)
  • Increase the number of rounds to 10 or 12
  • Decrease the number of rounds to 6
  • Make the intervals 60 seconds with 30 seconds of rest (this is the one I often use when walking/jogging/biking)
  • Decrease the break time in between rounds

Please keep in mind, some of these variations are intended for advanced exercisers!

Bonus Time! 

So, what do you think? Are you ready to try some Tabata exercises for yourself? I have created 4 workouts I want to share with you for FREE! Just click HERE

Tabata workout sampler

Happy Exercising! 

2 thoughts on “Tabata Workouts for the Win”

  1. Elesa M Labanz says:

    Found the Tabata workouts on iTunes – I love how customizable it is to what I can do.

    1. Andrea says:

      Awesome! You’ll have to keep me posted on how this format works for you!!

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