Tabata Here, There, Anywhere

This weekend, I was out with family for a bike ride and decided to turn a leisurely ride into a workout using the Tabata training method.

Tabata training is a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workout program invented by scientist Dr. Izumi Tabata in the 1990s. It is one of my favorite ways to get in a workout while traveling or when I'm looking for an efficient method for getting my heart rate up. Tabata training is simple:

  1. Pick just about any form of exercise (biking, running, push-ups, sit-ups, dumbbell curls, jump rope).
  2. Practice that movement at full capacity for 20 seconds.
  3. Take 10 seconds of rest.
  4. Repeat steps 2 & 3 for 8 rounds, a total of 4 minutes.

You can make any workout longer by stacking Tabatas with different movements. For example, a simple and tough 20-minute bodyweight workout could look like this:

  • 00:00-04:00 - Tabata #1: Push-Ups
  • 04:00-08:00 - Tabata #2: Air Squats
  • 08:00-12:00 - Tabata #3: Sit-Ups
  • 12:00 -16:00 - Tabata #4: Burpees
  • 16:00 -20:00 - Tabata #5: Jumping Jacks

Note: You can add optional rest time but only between Tabatas. Try to keep it under 30 seconds!

If you don't have 20 minutes to spare, keep scaling it down. I know we all have four. Regardless of how long you workout, don't forget to get a stretch in before you get started.

Wondering how to track the time? There's plenty of options that don't require you to count in your head or doing "math." My favorite Tabata timer so far is this one. There are apps, too, but I love the simplicity of this timer on desktop and mobile. Yes, it was loudly screaming 3-2-1 from pant pocket while biking this weekend. Tested and approved.

Happy Tabata-ing.