I love Tabata-inspired training – it’s a form of high intensity interval training; challenging, time-efficient and highly effective in improving your aerobic and anaerobic fitness. It tests your grit, mental fortitude (have you ever thought during your workout, “Forget this” and wanted to quit? Or wanted to cry in a workout?), and gives you a great post-workout endorphin rush.

Professor Dr. Izumi Tabata and his team coined the ever-popular Tabata protocol training; they created an extremely intense 4-minute workout on a cycle ergometer and tested it on Olympic athletes to improve their athletic performance. It consisted of 8 continuous cycles of 20 seconds of sprints at 170% VO2 max, followed by a 10-second break.

While most of us are not Olympic athletes and hitting 170% VO2 would be physically impossible (and dangerous), we can take the 4-minute: 20-seconds off-10-seconds off training idea and incorporate it into our workouts and reap all the aerobic and anaerobic fitness benefits.

Disclaimer: This is not easy.  It will feel like the longest 4 minutes of your life; take breaks when needed.

Tabata-Inspired 20/10 Workouts

Essentially, you can use most exercises for this protocol. Here are a few of my favourite that I use with clients and in my own workouts:

  • All-out running sprints; run as fast as your can for 20 seconds, followed by a 10-second walk
  • Stationary bike sprints
  • Push ups
  • Battle rope waves
  • Bodyweight squats
  • Mountain climbers
  • Jumping lunges
  • Burpees

These 4-minute workouts are great to add to the end of your workout as a final “burn out”, or to do (after a proper warm up) if you are short on time and need a quick workout (12 minute workout: 2 min warm up, followed by a 4-minute upper body 20 seconds on/10 seconds off exercise, followed with a 4-minute lower body one, 2 min cool down and stretch).

Have your experimented with Tabata-inspired workouts?  
Give it a shot, and let me know how it goes by leaving a comment below.