Tabata Training: History and Safe Use

In 1996, a Japanese Olympic Speed Skating Coach, Izumi Tabata, created a high-intensity interval-training workout now known as Tabata Training. This workout was designed to be completed in 20-minutes (excluding rest between rounds) and consists of:
5 rounds
8 consecutive intervals
20 seconds of intense work followed by 10 seconds of rest

While this method was originally designed to increase the VO2 Max and Lactate Threshold (and has been proven to do so) of an Olympic Speed Skating Team, it is now used by many trainers and performance coaches for fat loss. The original program primarily utilized an upright bike for the work intervals. However, the modalities that can be used for this type of training are nearly endless.

Here’s A Sample Program I’ve recently used with an “advanced” client:

25-Minutes Total (including all rest periods)

Round 1: Two-Handed Kettlebell Swings

60-second rest

Round 2: Med Ball Slams

60-second rest

Round 3: Low-Impact Lower Body Plyometrics (think hops the height of jump roping)

90-second rest

Round 4: Body Weight Alternating Reverse Lunges

90-second rest

Round 5: Air Squats

Notice each exercise requires progressively less skill and adheres to traditional programming (i.e. power before strength). I tend to program this way to avoid poor movement quality / increased chance of injury. I only use complex exercises in each round with the most “advanced” (both work capacity and movement proficiency) first. The implementation of this format with my clients has resulted in great results (work capacity, fat loss, etc.) and I recommend it’s use for clientele with a solid fitness base.

For more information on Tabata Training and Metabolic Conditioning in general consider attending Fit E-D-U’s upcoming seminar on July 26th in Malvern, PA. FIT E-D-U is a continuing education provider for most certifying organizations. For more information visit us at

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