When it comes to a quick workout, it doesn't get much better than a Tabata workout. Its fast, hard, and you can get the whole thing done in literally 5 minutes, and that's with a quick warm-up too. when you don't have the time to exercise Tabata comes into a league of its own.

This kind of workout is the perfect thing to fill in the gaps when you don't have time to hit your full routine or even something you can do when you have a tiny gap in your day. Whatever your reasons are, it's a good tool to have.

Let's take a look

What is Tabata Training

The best place to start is by looking at what Tabata training actually is. The concept revolves around any real exercise of your choice, within reason, and uses the basis of performing your exercise for 4 minutes.

That's broken down into performing the exercise at full steam for 20 seconds, and then a 10-second break. Once you've done this 8 times, you’re all set to move onto the next exercise in your workout!

For example:

Exercise Time
Rowing Machine 20 seconds on, 10 seconds rest, x 8
Treadmill 20 seconds on, 10 seconds rest, x 8
Cross Trainer 20 seconds on, 10 seconds rest, x 8
Indoor Cycling 20 seconds on, 10 seconds rest, x 8

Why it Works

This sounds a lot easier than it actually is; 4 minutes can be a long time when you're going flat out. The minimal amount of rest time means that not only are you really overloading your muscles and burning as much energy as you possibly can, but you’re also saving time for other exercises or workouts you need to be doing later.

It can be great for keeping active effectively whilst you are on the go or if you have a family to be running around after and can't fit it into other workouts too.

Potentially the biggest driving force behind the whole thing to make all of this possible comes from its HIIT roots. That means because you're working so hard non stop, you can actually get the same kind of workout than you would working say half as hard for twice as long. It's not always going to be the best workout you could do, but for the time it takes it can be a serious winner. (It's even great for doing while you're travelling!)

woman working hard on cross trainer

What are the Benefits of Tabata?

Alongside the amazingly effective workout in such a small time, the concept of the workout does have a few other benefits too.


One huge benefit of doing this though is that your stamina will skyrocket in no time, due to the available rest meaning that you are using both aerobic exercise and anaerobic exercise to push yourself to your physical limit!

Without the rep restraint that many workouts offer too, you’re pretty much limitless and can perform your routine how it suits you, and just work on beating your personal bests. It's all about time and effort!

Exercise Time
Squats 20 seconds on, 10 seconds rest, x 8
Push-ups 20 seconds on, 10 seconds rest, x 8
Tricep Dips 20 seconds on, 10 seconds rest, x 8
Crunches 20 seconds on, 10 seconds rest, x 8


Strength training is not out of the picture for this kind of training either. It’s likely going to be better for your workouts if you continue your strength training as you normally would to make sure that your contractions and your technique are safe and effective, but Tabata can be a fantastic way to finish up at the end.

Again, the high-intensity nature means that you're going to overload your muscles as much as you possibly can do, which should result in the best possible results from your workouts! It's almost like doing a superset just to finish things off!

Man bicep curling with rope



Remember This

No matter what it is you are training for, it’s likely going to be better for you to perform the most compound exercises that you can, using as many different muscle groups in unison as you can to make the Tabata workout even more efficient (which doesn’t even sound possible, we know). Exercises like squats, push-ups, pull-ups, even with just bodyweight levels can be the biggest hitters, but you can use any exercise you like, depending on what it is you are training for.

Regardless of what you decide to do, just make sure that you are doing it safely and correctly to make sure you aren't putting yourself at risk. Performing these exercises as fast as you can often lead to just pushing through without thought for your technique, which is always the most important part of any training.

Always make sure you're doing things right and try to get whatever exercise you can!


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Before beginning any exercise or nutrition program, consult your physician, doctor or other professional. This is especially important for individuals over the age of 35 or persons with pre-existing health problems. Exercise.co.uk assumes no responsibility for personal injury or property damage sustained using our advice.

If you experience dizziness, nausea, chest pain, or any other abnormal symptoms, stop the workout at once and consult a physician or doctor immediately.