HIIT For Fat Loss: The Tabata Protocol

The Tabata Protocol is one of the most brutal – and most effective – High Intensity Interval Training methods around. I’m going to explain exactly what the Tabata Protocol is, why it works so well, and how you can incorporate it into your existing workout routine for fat loss and improved conditioning.


The protocol was originally developed by a coach of the Japanese speed skating team. Based on positive reports this coach was getting with his methods, Izumi Tabata, a Japanese scientest, and his research group took the protocol and attempted to quantify its effects in a clinical setting.

Tabata’s original study split its subjects into two groups. The subjects were put on a six week routine, employing either a moderate intensity cardio program (60 minutes, five times per week), or a very high intensity, four-minute long program – 20 seconds of all-out effort followed by 10 seconds of rest, done eight times. The high intensity workout was also performed five times per week.

The findings of the study, in a nutshell, were as follows: High Intensity Interval Training – and particularly the Tabata Protocol – appears to give us the best of both worlds – aerobic and anerobic fitness. The subjects doing the short, intense workout improved in both of these measures. The traditional, ‘long-slow-distance’ workout the control group did, as expected, improved the subjects aerobic fitness, but it didn’t improve anaerobic fitness, power output, or anything else like the Tabata group experienced. The bottom line is that the Tabata protocol is a great tool to help you burn fat and get in great shape in a fast and very time-efficient way.

So now you know exactly what it is, let’s talk about how Tabatas can be incorporated into your training. You could simply pick a cardio activity – such as cycling, as was done in the original study – and do a five minute warm-up, four minutes of the Tabata protocol, and a five minute cool-down. Alternately, you could use body weight movements like squats, push ups, or sit ups and perform eight intervals of twenty seconds of maximum repetitions with ten seconds of rest in between. The Tabata Protocol can even be done with actual external resistance – Kettlebell Swings and Thrusters are two movements that work great.

The Tabata protocol is one of the hardest and most effective interval protocols around. It works great for both fat loss and improved conditioning. There are a variety of ways you can incorporate the Tabata method into your existing workout routine. For a fast, effective, and brutally hard high-intensity conditioning workout, Tabatas can’t be beat.

P.S. The Tabata Protocol is just one of many different high-intensity techniques that are used in the No Gym? No Excuse! workout system. To try a week’s worth of free workouts from N0 Gym? No Excuse! and sign up for our free newsletter, drop your name and email into the box in the upper right hand corner of the page!

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