The Relationship between TABATA and HIIT – The Value of high-intensity interval training


HIIT(High-intensity interval training) has been documented as early as the 1970s. Hiit is an exercise mode for professional athletes training based on the High intensity exercise (HIT) proposed at the same time. HIIT gained popularity in the mass fitness community in the 2010s. It is in a short time through the combination of different movements, so that the heart rate reaches 120/min or more, in an efficient way to consume fat to achieve the purpose of weight loss.

💓HIIT training mode

The total training time is about 10 to 30 minutes. The number of sets is self-determined, and the movements are also self-determined. Each movement is 30 seconds to 1 minute, and the rest between each movement is 10 seconds to 1 minute. All Settings are based on your physical condition.

Exercise intensity should be more than 80% of your maximum heart rate (HRmax) or maximum oxygen uptake (VO2max)


TABATA is a type of HIIT that features:

  • Shorter exercise times (8 sets of 20 seconds in 4 minutes with 10 seconds of rest)
  • More intense exercise (sometimes dumbbells, single bars and jump boxes)
  • Anaerobic exercise has a larger component, which activates lactic acid metabolism in muscles (vigorous exercise requires more muscle groups to engage)

💓The history of TABATA

In the 1990s, Koichi Irisawa, the head coach of Japan’s national speed skating team, developed a special high-intensity interval training program for his team to improve the performance of Japan’s Olympic speed skating team. The training program consists of the following parts: 8 sets of intense bicycle training cycles of 20 seconds each with intervals of 10 seconds each. The total training time is: 30 seconds *8=240 seconds, or 4 minutes. Koichi asked his deputy, lzumi Tabata, to analyze whether the short but intense training sessions were effective. The results of lzumi Tabata’s study were striking. During the 6-week study, subjects increased their anaerobic fitness by an average of 28 percent, while increasing their VO2 Max by 14 percent. This made 1996 a landmark year in the history of high-intensity interval exercise research, and TABATA high-intensity interval exercise was born. Japan has also proven to be a powerhouse on the international speedskating circuit.

lzumi Tabata, now a professor and researcher at Ritsumeikan University in Japan, recalls: “At the beginning, I thought this particular training was only for professional people, like speed skaters, because it was really painful and tiring. But what I’ve seen is that more and more people in the general population, in order to build muscle strength, are trying to do high-intensity interval training, and when people do high-intensity interval training for a period of time, they find that not only does it build muscle strength, but it also helps with aerobic fitness.”

TABATA’s rise to popularity in the global fitness world dates back to 2013, when it was registered as a trademark by a US commercial company, which set up an official website and launched a series of indoor and improved Tabata online classes. The website has been discontinued since 2015. The efficacy of modified Tabata is not well supported in the literature. There are two reasons:

  • The intensity of most indoor movements was simply not the extreme intensity of laboratory studies at the time.
  • The average person’s cardiovascular function and muscles and joints are not capable of carrying out the original TABATA movement for a long time, so they cannot be sampled.

💓Benefits of High-intensity Interval Exercise (HIIT&TABATA)

1. After-Burn effect. Also known as EPOC (Extra Oxygen consumption after Exercise). In addition to burning calories during exercise, the body needs extra energy to repair after exercise. When the exercise intensity is higher, the EPOC is also more obvious. Some studies suggest that the EPOC effect of HIIT can increase the amount of calories burned by exercise by an additional 6-15%.

2. Improve hormone secretion and physique. Each person’s health and fat distribution are determined by the numerous hormones in the body. Studies have pointed out that HIIT can regulate the secretion of hormones in the body more efficiently than moderate and low intensity exercise, so that the body can use the energy intake more efficiently and delay the formation of stubborn fat.

3. Reduce your appetite after exercise. During exercise, blood is pumped to the muscles involved in the exercise and the digestive system rests, which indirectly affects the secretion of hormones in the brain that control appetite. Studies have shown that some people experience a loss of appetite after very strenuous exercise (compared to moderate intensity continuous exercise), which leads to a decrease in total food intake and calorie intake throughout the day.

4. Bring about positive psychological feelings. The change of pace of HIIT can bring a sense of excitement, and the various combinations of different movements can increase the interest of the exercisers, making it easier to develop a fitness habit.

💓TABATA training notes

TABATA exercise intensity is greater, not suitable for the ordinary people without exercise basis: due to physical limitations, most people do not standard movements in the later period of exercise, resulting in the heart rate cannot reach the prescribed times, at this time, it is easy to make TABATA ordinary aerobic exercise. To achieve the desired results, I have the following tips:

  • Those without a foundation in exercise should start with low-intensity HIIT and work your way up to TABATA.
  • Patients with cardiovascular diseases should make an appointment for physical examination, and carry out moderate aerobic exercise under the doctor’s instruction. After the cardiopulmonary function is improved, the exercise intensity will be gradually upgraded.
  • After high-intensity intermittent exercise, sufficient time should be left for muscle repair, fatigue training is easy to cause joint sprain.
  • Usually more neuromuscular training, warm-up before exercise to be adequate.
  • Every training session, in the limited time to do the best, do exhaustion.

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