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Tabata Training

Want to blast fat fast? Get ready for four minutes of hell

Tabata training was developed by Izumi Tabata, Ph.D., at the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo. It's a timed interval method that breaks up your sets and reps, and can help you burn lots more fat than during a standard workout. It requires only one exercise and four minutes.


  • 1.) Decide if you're going to lift (choose a compound exercise like the bench press, deadlift, or squat) or do cardio.
  • 2.) Do a five- to 10-minute warm-up on the stationary bike to get your blood flowing and muscles loose.
  • 3.) Do the first "set" of your exercise for 20 seconds. Don't worry about counting—just knock out as many reps as you can.
  • 4.) Rest for 10 seconds. Make sure to use good form, whether running or hitting the weights.
  • 5.) Repeat steps 3 and 4 for four minutes. That's it, you're done. Trust us, you won't be able to handle any more.

— "You can transform virtually any cardio activity into a Tabata-style workout," says Rich Butkevic, a trainer and author of Four Minutes of Pain: The Ultimate Guide to Tabata Training.

— If you're lifting, pick a lighter weight than you're used to, since you'll fatigue quickly.

— As you advance, add more time but maintain the two-to-one work-to-rest ratio. Do more in each set than you did last time. But don't use Tabata training too often. Twice a week, tops.

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