Tabata: The Ultimate Fat Killer

Tabata: The Ultimate Fat Killer

Nicholas Bourg |

"I just don't have time to work out".  Man, if I had a dollar for every time I've heard that I'd be writing this while sitting on the beach somewhere.  But I digress.  What if I told you that you could burn more calories in 15 minutes than if you spent 60 minutes on the treadmill?  Now that I've got you attention, let me elaborate.  

What is Tabata?

Tabata is a form of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) that was invented by Dr. Tabata in 1996.  Durning his study he found that participants performing Tabata 5 days a week, for 6 weeks saw a 28% increase in anaerobic fitness and a 14% increase in aerobic fitness.  This was groundbreaking. Ever since then, Tabata and other forms of HITT have found their way into fitness programs all over the globe.

How to perform Tabata

Tabata consist of exercising for 20 seconds and resting for 10 seconds.  This is to be repeated 8 times to complete one round, followed by a 1-minute rest period.  That' s 5 minutes total, 4 minutes for the round and 1 minute for the rest. That's it! Complete 3 rounds for a total of 15 minutes and you'll burn more calories than a 60-minute sesh on the endless conveyor belt (treadmill).  

The exercises should be bodyweight or extremely light weight exercises.  The 20 second work portions must be done at an "all out" effort.  You're trying to push yourself to complete as many reps as possible (AMRAP).  That's the key.  Getting your heart rate up to at least 75% of your max heart rate.  

Calculate your max heart max by using the simple formula: 

220 - Age = Heart Rate Max (HRM)

HRM x 0.75 = 75% HRM

So, for a 38-year-old that would be:

220 - 38 = 182

182 x 0.75 = 137

Benefits of Tabata

Going back to the million-dollar excuse, TIME.  There's no reason someone can't find 15 minutes in a day to exercise.  Especially since this can be done with little to no equipment and in the comfort of your own home.  

Not only does Tabata burn a good amount of calories during the training but you also get an "afterburn" effect that could last hours.  This means you'll be burning calories long after you've left the gym.  This is because Tabata creates such a huge oxygen deficit for your body resulting in a greater number of calories needed to recover.  This is known as EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) and Tabata is great at generating a greater EPOC effect than most other exercises.  

Example Tabata Workout

The exercises: 

  • Exercise 1 = Body weight squats
  • Exercise 2 = Pushups
  • Exercise 3 = Jumping Jacks
  • Exercise 4 = Moutain Climbers

The Workout: 

  • 20 seconds exercise 1, 10 seconds rest
  • 20 seconds exercise 2, 10 seconds rest
  • 20 seconds exercise 3, 10 seconds rest
  • 20 seconds exercise 4, 10 seconds rest
  • 20 seconds exercise 1, 10 seconds rest
  • 20 seconds exercise 2, 10 seconds rest
  • 20 seconds exercise 3, 10 seconds rest
  • 20 seconds exercise 4, 10 seconds rest
  • 60 seconds recovery

Repeat this 2 more times and you're done.  If you're doing it right, it'll feel like the longest 4 minutes of your life but hang in there.  Remember the goal is to get as many reps as possible (AMRAP).  If you have to slow down that's ok but do your best to not stop.

It may take some time to work up to completing 3 rounds of Tabata.  Make it your goal but if you can only do one round to start, that's ok.  If you stick with it, you'll work your way up to 3 rounds and a new leaner, stronger body!

Be sure to take at least one day off between each Tabata session.  This will allow your body ample time to recover.  This isn't some lame stroll on the treadmill so give your body the rest it needs. 

I find 2-3 times a week is perfect, and if you lift weights, you can use Tabata on your active recovery days and/or cardio days.  




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