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blog Tabata Training: Fast Functional Fitness That Works - Part 2

Tabata Training: Fast Functional Fitness That Works - Part 2

Let's continue our talk about how to elevate your Functional Fitness with Tabata Training.

Part 2 - Why Tabata Training? - It's The Most Bang For Your Buck

Hey Gang!

I’m back with the second part of my Tabata Training: Fast Functional Fitness That Works series…

And trust me - you won’t want to miss this because if you ever wondered how Tabata Training ACTUALLY works - you’ll want to keep reading.

Tabata Training may be the most effective workout strategy for people on the go…

But even if you’re not - it still ranks near the top when it comes to effective training.

A Top Benefit is that Tabata Training is versatile… 

You can use various exercise styles for your Tabata Training - HIIT workout, and it all leads to the same fat-busting, muscle-building results - as Tabatas engage your body’s aerobic and anaerobic systems to do the job.

Tabata Training: A Functional Fitness Power House - Aerobic & Anaerobic

For those of you who don’t know the difference between aerobic and anaerobic, here is a brief explanation of the two:

Aerobic – This is the type of exercise you’re most familiar with for a cardio workout. These exercises use your cardiorespiratory system, i.e., heart, lungs, and blood vessels. Remember - Aerobic translates to “with oxygen” and uses the oxygen for fat and carb-burning to produce energy. In an aerobic exercise, you typically use your arms and legs in repetitive movements.

Anaerobic – These exercises target the muscles in your body. Training anaerobically means training without oxygen. Anaerobic exercise is defined as high-intensity exercises which are very short in duration - seconds to 2 minutes. Examples of anaerobic exercises are ones that use fast twitch muscle fibers such as jumping and sprinting. By using and developing those fibers you build muscle, increase your power, and strengthen your endurance level.

Studies have found that when you combine the aerobic and anaerobic - you’re joining forces with two powerful agents that can whip your body back into shape in less time - all while losing unwanted fat.
When using the Tabata method, you’re working out intensely for short bursts and then recovering for a short amount of time…

The concept is simple – you’ll be increasing your aerobic capacity by working intensely for short bursts and increasing your anaerobic capacity by performing the exercises in intervals.

A great tool in Functional Fitness and perfect for Tabata Training is the Kettlebell. On the left, you have a Kettlebell Goblet Squat and on the right the traditional Kettlebell swing.

Intensity Levels of Tabata Training

You should have a good idea about your level of fitness before you engage in Tabata. Even though the workouts are short in duration - they’ll tax you to your limits… 

So you should already have a decent level of cardiovascular fitness before you try it.

Four minutes doesn’t sound like a long amount of time - but if you’re not in shape - Tabata probably isn’t for you. 

But If you’ve been exercising for a while and want to change things up or maybe even kick it up a notch - start out with Tabata in the beginning level and work up to intermediate and then to the athletic level.

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How Tabata Training Works At All Three Levels

  • Beginner – Choose any exercise you’re comfortable with. Many people choose a treadmill. You’ll want a timer so that you don’t always have to look at the clock. Perform the Tabata workout on a ratio of 1:3 (for example 20 seconds of intense sprinting to 60 seconds of walking.)
  • Intermediate – If you’ve been going to the gym and are in good shape, you can move into the intermediate level of Tabata training which means that you may be able to maintain a 2:3 or 2:2 ratio. Don’t be surprised if it’s too difficult and you have to decrease the intensity to a beginner level. Tabata is tough at first, but you can work your way up to intermediate by keeping at it.
  • Advanced (Athlete) – Professional athletes or those who are in top shape may be able to begin Tabata at its original level developed for Olympian speed skaters. This level of interval training is extremely difficult to perform, and you may have to decrease the intensity if you find that it’s just too much.

Typical Tabata Training & Functional Fitness Protocols

A typical Tabata protocol for a beginner would look like the following timetable if you were working out on a treadmill:

  • Warm up to prevent injury by walking briskly for 2 minutes.
  • Sprint as hard as you can for 10 seconds.
  • Walk to recover for 30 seconds.
  • Sprint with intensity for another 20 seconds.
  • Recover for 60 seconds.
  • Repeat 8 times.
  • Cool down.

A typical Tabata protocol for an advanced athlete would look more like the following:

  • Full body warm-up and mobility work for 5 to 8 minutes.
  • Exercising at Max Intensity under a 20/10-4x w/1-minute rest.
    • Example Exercises:
    • Kettlebell Swings
    • Push Ups
    • Row Sit Ups
    • Split Jump Lunges

Physiological and Psychological Benefits of Tabata Training

Physiological Benefits

The physiological benefits of Tabata are perfectly clear when you realize that professional athletes and Olympians use this method in their intense training programs to build muscle and endurance.

Hollywood stars and other celebrities are also choosing Tabata to get their bodies back in star-quality shape after having a baby or putting on weight for a film.

Here are some obvious – and not-so-obvious – physiological benefits of adding Tabata to your exercise regimen:

  • Fat Loss – If you’re trying to lose unwanted pounds or simply tone your body, you should know that Tabata Training increases your metabolic rate by about 15 times that of the basic metabolic rate. The short, but intense workout challenges your body to consume energy and burn fat. The great thing about Tabata is that by using both aerobic and anaerobic methods in unison, you’ll keep burning fat even after the exercise is over.
  • Build and Retain Muscle – When you diet to lose weight, you often lose valuable muscle tissue. When you engage in the Tabata interval training method, you’re increasing the ratio of lean body mass to fat.
  • Grow Muscles, Lose Fat - Tabata puts demands on the muscles, meaning that more muscle tissue is needed to perform, so your body mass to fat increases, and you end up both building muscle mass and retaining what you already have.
  • Increased Cardio Health – By pushing yourself into the anaerobic zone as in the Tabata workout, you’re producing extreme effects. Studies have shown that after only 8 weeks of practicing Tabata, those who cycle could perform twice as much as before.
  • Turbo-Charged Metabolism – Your metabolism will be in high energy and fat-burning mode after a Tabata workout routine. This is great news for our aging bodies because it keeps you looking and feeling young both inside and out.

Psychological Benefits of Tabata Training

One of the biggest psychological benefits of Tabata training is that you see results fast…

The results will be well worth the intense workout routine.

Your body will be changing for the better – and you’ll feel better mentally.

Some of the psychological benefits of Tabata include:

  • Less Stress – If you’ve had a bad day, you’ll begin to look forward to the Tabata workout to rid the layers of stress like peeling an onion. During the intense workout, your brain will produce more norepinephrine, which is the chemical that your body uses to reduce the effects of stress.
  • Never Boring – Choose your favorite way to exercise with Tabata and you won’t be bored into dropping out of fitness. Tabata cures boredom and eliminates the gripe that exercise takes too much time out of the day.
  • Self-Confidence Surges – It’s a given that you’re going to look your very best after a few weeks of working out with the Tabata method. Scientifically, it’s been proven that exercising can improve your self-image no matter what your weight, age, or gender.
  • Calm Anxiety – Those calming endorphins and other chemicals released during exercise are multiplied tenfold in Tabata training. If you have an anxiety disorder, moderate or high-intensity exercises will help to calm you down and handle those anxious situations better.
  • Helps You Relax – Sleep has never felt so good after you exercise using the Tabata method. The chemicals released from your brain during a high-intensity (with intervals) Tabata workout help the body drop its temperature with you’re ready for bed and give the body a signal that it’s time to relax. (Never work out just before bedtime.)
  • Prevents Memory Loss – Tabata training boosts your ability to remember and learn new things. When you sweat (and you will), your body increases the production of hippocampus cells which are responsible for your memory.
  • Inspire Others – Who doesn’t like to be praised? People will begin to notice you’re at your physical and psychological best and you can be an inspiration to others by encouraging them to work hard as you did for the results

Tabata training can have far-reaching effects beyond the workout. You’ll gain self-confidence, get relief from depression and think more clearly – besides having the lean, hard body you always wanted.

Until Next Time... Stay Strong, Stay Unstoppable!

Lee Probst, Team Nutrex

Lee Probst is a CPT, Co-Owner of Temple Martial Arts and Fitness, and a Sport Supplement Industry Veteran

References -

Tabata, I., Nishimura, K., Hirai, Y., Ogita, F., M, M., & Yamamoto, K. (1996). Effects of moderate-intensity endurance and high-intensity intermittent training on anaerobic capacity and VO2 max. Medicine in Science in Sports and Exercise, 1327-1330.

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