Life is busy. Most of us don’t have a lot of time to spare, and some days it can be hard to fit in your workout. But we’ve got you covered: now you can get an awesome workout done in just 4 minutes – that’s less time than most commercial breaks. Not enough time is no longer an excuse!

What are we talking about? Tabata! If you haven’t already heard about it, the Tabata protocol(named after professor Izumi Tabata, who created it) is a type of high-intensity interval exercise. If you’ve been following our articles, you’ll already know that we love high-intensity interval training. And what’s not to love? Better results in less time – sign me up!

We’re not going to rehash all the benefits of HIIT (read this if you’re interested), but suffice it to say that the evidence seems to show that HIIT gets you better results in less time.

What is the Tabata Protocol?

The great thing about using the Tabata protocol is that it takes just 4 minutes, done 4 times a week (although professor Tabata will be publishing research showing that even just doing Tabata workouts 2 times a week provides significant health benefits) – everyone has at least 4 minutes to spare.

Now, bear in mind this like all HIIT protocols, this is an intense workout, which means as a beginner you absolutely have to work your way up to it. As always, the disclaimer applies: check with your doctor before you start any new diet or exercise program. Depending on health and levels of fitness, HIIT protocols may not be suitable for everyone.

The Tabata protocol is especially grueling because even though it’s short, it requires all-out effort: 170% of your VO2 max. In other words, to paraphrase Tabata: “If you feel OK afterwards, you probably haven’t done it properly. The first three repetitions are easy, the last two should feel impossibly hard.”

That should give you an idea of the intensity you need to build up to. A good way of thinking about it is like doing the 100m sprint, eight times, with 10 seconds rest between…

But, if you want better results in less time, it means you’re going to need to up the intensity… and the fat-burning results are certainly worth it in (our opinion)!

So without further ado, here’s Tabata Workout #1. Enjoy!

Tabata Workout #1

Tabata Workout #1

Warm Up: 3 – 5 minutes

High Knees / Jump Rope
Mountain Climbers
Jumping Lunges

Cool Down: 5 – 8 minutes


Exercise for 20 seconds at maximum intensity.
Rest for 10 seconds.
Move on to the next exercise.
Repeat twice, giving you a total workout time of 4 minutes (incl. rests, but not the warm up / cool down).

Exercise Disclaimer

In the interest of your safety, it is important to check with your physician before beginning any exercise program and to exercise according to your fitness level and capabilities. If you have any questions, please seek the guidance of a health professional.

Exercise Videos

Mountain Climbers
High Knees
Jumping Lunges
Mountain Climbers

Structure of the Tabata Protocol

What’s awesome about the Tabata protocol (and other HIIT exercises) is that you can pretty much apply it to any workout as long as you follow the following structure:

  • Warm up*
  • 4 minute workout
  • 20 seconds intense exercise
  • 10 seconds rest
  • 8 rounds
  • Cool down

*Okay, so technically it isn’t 4 minutes with the warm up and the cool down included. By the way, it’s essential that you do warm up thoroughly before you do Tabata drills, since they are so high-intensity.

To make it more challenging, you can do multiple sets of tabatas (1 minute rest inbetween each set). Although, this is usually something done by elite althletes and not really part of the original Tabata protocol. Still, that option is always there if just one tabata isn’t enough.

That’s all there is to it, 4 minutes and you’re done – we’ll be bringing you more of this Tabata goodness soon, so subscribe if you want more!

Done Tabata’s before? Tell us about it in the comment section below!

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