What Is Tabata Training, and How Effective Is It?

If you’re into doing any sort of endurance sports, you’ve heard of and then wondered, “What is Tabata?” The Tabata Protocol is a unique way of training that I’ve personally found great success with.

So, what is Tabata? At it’s core it’s basically just a HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workout, and probably one of the most effective ones ever created at that. If you don’t know what HIIT is, it’s training for cardio endurance by doing high intensity but short bursts. Essentially, if you want to run 5 miles, practice running really hard in intervals, first.

And yeah, the Tabata Protocol really works.

Let me tell a story from my college days. I used to drive my car and go run around a beautiful park, which was about 10 miles away. One Saturday morning, I lost my key about two miles into my run. My cell phone was also locked in that car. I had no wallet, no way of contacting anyone, and was completely stuck.

I’d been training with the Tabata Protocol, but I wasn’t practicing for super long runs. My maximum run I’d done recently was 6 miles.

But, I really had no choice whatsoever but to run all the way home. Without having ever done a true endurance run, and mostly used HIIT as a way of training for basketball—I ran all the way home. The non-direct nature of the run, plus the two miles I’d already done, added up to nearly a 15-mile run when it was all said and done.

Thankfully, I got into my dorm room, got my spare key, and hitched a ride back to my car.

I credit the Tabata Protocol with getting me “ready” to make this run.

What Is Tabata? Well, It’s REALLY Simple, to Start…

People like to over complicate things. You’ll notice that the tagline of this site is ‘Stronger, Smarter, SIMPLIFIED’. Fitness does not have to be complicated. People like to throw acronyms like HIIT around and then use it as an excuse not to do anything—because it’s too complicated.

So what is Tabata? At it’s core, it’s just running really fast and then resting.

How’s that for simplified? 🙂

From the Tabata website:

The entire beginner workout starts out at 6 minutes long. It breaks down to 2 minutes of warmup, 2 intervals of 30 seconds each. (1 minute of exercise) followed by a 2 minute cool-down.

1) Use a Recumbent or Stationary Bike, Versaclimber, Rowing Machine, Elliptical Trainer or other piece of cardio equipment that allows for gradually increasing resistance, speed, etc. and utilizes the large muscles of your legs.

Treadmills are a possibility, but because you have to rest for 10 seconds between bouts of exercise, the only option when on a treadmill is to step onto the sides and stop entirely, because the machine won’t respond quick enough to the required rapid changes in velocity during a Tabata Protocol interval.

Take this advice to heart. The treadmill is dangerous, and you shouldn’t do it until you’ve mastered the Tabata workout. Definitely don’t go hop on a treadmill for the first time…

Moving on—make sure you stretch and warm up. Typically it calls for a two minute warm-up, but it’s probably worthwhile to do some stretching and maybe even prolong the warm-up period.

The Intervals

Tabata comes down to this: go 20 seconds as FAST AS YOU POSSIBLY CAN, then rest for 10 seconds. You then repeat this process one more time. I’ve always done far more than just a minute, but you can do whatever you’d like ultimately. The Protocol itself though calls for just one minute total (followed by a two minute cool down).

Do this a few times a week and I can assure you that your general cardio endurance and well-being will skyrocket. I’m living and breathing proof of it.

15 miles having never run more than 6 before. Just keep that in mind.

-Til next time,


PS: The Tabata Protocol plus a low-carb plan like the steak and eggs diet will get you incredible results. Sign up to the Biology Boost newsletter for fresh tips like this article.

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