Health Benefits of Tabata Interval Training (inc. workout Pdf.)

Tabata Intervals for Health & MMA-Specific Training

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No time to exercise?

Busy with work, family & the commute to the day job?

If you have 4 minutes, 3 times per week, you have enough time to exercise & improve your health (or performance) significantly.

Scroll down to see some specific Tabata Workouts that you can do in 4 minutes

tabata interval dr michael mosley

Tabata Interval Training is a series of high-intensity workout exercises, lasting 4 minutes. Each exercise session is intended to benefit different parts of the body, the whole body or a specific ‘kinetic chain‘.

It’s a convenient and effective way to workout, because most of the workouts can be completed in just four minutes. Tabatas have even been introduced in some schools as a way of promoting physical exercise & developing fitness in children – more info here.

This kind of training was first developed in Japan by Dr. Izumi Tabata. He and his team of researchers at the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo tested two groups of athletes in the 1990s. One group performed exercises at a moderate intensity level and the other performed exercises at a high intensity level.

The group that performed at moderate intensity level worked out an hour a day, five days a week over a six-week period. The group that performed at a high-intensity level worked out for only four minutes and 20 seconds at a time four days a week over the same six-week period of time.

When comparing results, the researchers noticed that the moderate intensity group had increased their cardiovascular system, but showed little to no improvement in their muscular system. The high-intensity group achieved increases in both their cardiovascular (or aerobic) system and their muscular (or anaerobic) system. As a result of this research, the Tabata Interval Training methods were introduced as ways to improve overall performance.

Tabata Interval sessions consist of intense workouts for 20 seconds, then resting for 10 seconds.

This cycle is repeated seven more times per workout.

Tabata intervals can provide a great way to get fit for beginners.

A tabata workout can be as simple as doing 8 sets of bodyweight squats – using a tabata interval timer:

There are a lot of different kinds of workout that you can do during these sessions. Burpees, pushups and squats are just some of the activities that most participants prefer. You can do the same activity during all eight intervals or mix and match activities as you see fit.

Tabata Vs HIIT

Although Tabata training and HIIT (High Impact Interval Training) are sometimes used to describe the same thing, they are actually different workouts. HIIT sessions are used by people who choose to extend either the workout period, rest period or both. They are used by people who prefer working on specific areas of the body or who just want a more strenuous workout. Experts recommend not doing both HIIT and Tabata workouts on consecutive days, as that can lead to greater stress on the body.

High energy impact training intervals don’t have specific time limits, although most workouts don’t last much longer than 30 minutes. Duration depends on a person’s endurance, fitness needs and areas of the body they are trying to improve. There are also different types of training sessions besides Tabata intervals.More information about the various types of HIIT workouts can be found online or at your local fitness center.

The nice thing about this kind of workout is that you can do it anytime anywhere. They’re perfect for busy travelers or people who live otherwise active lives. If you have a few minutes of down time, then you have plenty of time to fit in a Tabitha Interval workout.

Tabata Workouts

Kettlebell or Dumbbell Tabata
General FitnessNumber of 20 sec RoundsRound Rest
Alternating Lunges110 secs in between each round
Goblet Squats110 secs in between each round
Hammer Curls110 secs in between each round
In & Out Squats110 secs in between each round
Overhead Tricep Extensions110 secs in between each round
Renegade Rows110 secs in between each round
Shoulder Press110 secs in between each round
Squat & Press110 secs in between each round

You can also incorporate weights into your Tabata exercise routine. Here are a few popular exercises that incorporate them:

  1. Alternating lunges.   For this exercise, drop your right foot behind your hip. Bend your knees and make sure your back knee is at least a couple of inches off of the floor. Push off to return to a standing position. Put your left foot behind your hip, bend the knees again and repeat the process. You should keep your arms holding the weights at your sides the entire time. Keep your shoulders back and away from your head as you focus on keeping tension under your arms
tabata workout - lunges

Video illustrating Alternating Lunges

2. Goblet squat.

Stand with your feet out away from your body. Your toes should be just slightly turned out. Hold the top end of a dumbbell with the palms of your hands. The other end of the dumbbell should be pointed towards the floor. Keep your chest up and keep the dumbbell in your palms as you squat down, Try to get your elbows to reach near the inner part of your thighs. Get back to a standing position, and then repeat.


Video illustrating Goblet Squats

3. Squat & curl.

To start this exercise, stand up straight with your feet apart. Bend your elbows to bring the dumbbells in your hands up towards your shoulders. Squat down by bending your knees, Rise up to stand and raise the dumbbells up to your shoulders. Return to your starting position.


Full video on squat & curl

4. In and out squats.

Start by standing with your feet about hip’s distance apart from each other. Bend at the knees into the squat postion. Keep the weight in your heels. Hold the dumbbell at your chest. Jump lightly so that your feet are a couple inches apart. Squat down again, and continue jumping in and out for wide and narrow squats.


Full Video on In & Out Squats

5. Overhead tricep extension.

Keep your feet apart as you stand. Bend your knees slightly as you bring your hips forward. Lift your arms holding the dumbbells up over your head while bringing your elbows in close together. Bring the weights down and rise up. Don’t worry about arching your back. Instead, focus on closing your ribcage.


6. Renegade rows.

Begin by finding your plank position. Your dumbbells should be in both hands in front of you. Keep your shoulders over your wrists. Concentrate during this activity on core tightness. Don’t let your hips lift or sag if possible. Bring one dumbbell up to your body. Keep your elbow in tight and try not to twist your hips. Bring the dumbbell down and repeat on the other side.

7. Standing Shoulder press.

To begin this exercise, stand up straight. Keep your feet about hip’s width apart. Once again, you should bend your knees slightly and push your hips forward. Bring your arms holding the dumbbells in each hand to shoulder height. Your elbows should be at a 90 degree angle with your palms facing out in front of you. Raise the dumbbells over your head until your arms are perfectly straight. They should be out in front of your forehead. Take a deep inhale and exhale if you need to.

8. Squat and press.

For this activity, begin by standing up straight. Keep your feet apart a little more than hip’s width. Lift your elbows so that you bring your arms with dumbbells in each hand up to your shoulders. Bend your knees to squat, and focus on keeping your weight in your heels. Stand up from the squat position, and be sure to bring your arms up over your head. Keep your elbows in close to your body and your palms turned inward while you are doing this.

You can also incorporate other accessories such as battle ropes and heavier weights into your Tabata routines.

Feel free to experiment with different techniques until you find your comfort level. If you start to feel dizzy or lightheaded or experience sudden soreness, body stiffnesss, muscle aches or other forms of pain, stop what you’re doing and take time to rest. Tabata training is a great way to improve endurance and muscle tone, but listen to what your body tells you and don’t overdo things.

Tabata Workout at Home

Bodyweight Tabata20 sec RoundsRound Rest
Burpees110 secs in between each round
Froggers110 secs in between each round
High Knees110 secs in between each round
Knee Tuck & Plank Jack110 secs in between each round
Mountain Climbers110 secs in between each round
Speed Skaters110 secs in between each round
Squat Jump Turns110 secs in between each round
Tuck Jumps110 secs in between each round

You can also perform many kinds of Tabata exercise at home. You don’t need any workout equipment, just a space where you can workout in comfort and relative privacy. Here are a few simple activities that you can do in just a few minutes:


Start from a standing position. Squat down and move your feet down and out into the plank position. Perform a push-up. While you’re doing this, jump your feet towards your hands. Next, jump into the air. Bring your hands up over your head as you jump. Land gently into a standing position and repeat.


For this exercise, you should start in the standard plank position. Jump your feet towards your hands. While doing this, your rear end should below your knees. Keep your chest up. Jump back to the plank position and repeat.

3.High knees.

Begin by standing straight up. Run or jog in place for several seconds. Your knees should be moving towards your chest. Try to run as fast as you can for as long as you can or for a certain amount of time.

4.Knee tuck and plank jack.

Get into the plank position. Take a few moments to ensure that your elbows, shoulders and wrists align with each other. Jump your feet out and then bring them back together. It should feel like you’re doing a jumping jack. Jump so that your knees are between your hands. Jump back into the plank position, and repeat the process.

5.Mountain climbers.

This activity requires you to be in the pland position. Look at where your arms, elbows, shoulders and wrists are. They should align with each other. Adjust your position if necessary, and then take one knee at a time and bring it to your chest as quickly as possible. Bring each knee back out one at a time to the starting position and repeat.

6.Speed skaters.

Start this activity from a standing position. Your legs should be about hips’ width apart. Jump slightly to the left, making sure that your left leg is behind your body. Then jump slightly to the right. This time, your right leg should be behind your body. Repeat this process.

7.Squat jump turns.

This time, begin from the squat position. Your feet should be about shoulders’ width apart. Your toes should be pointed ahead of you. Your weight should be based in the heels of your feet. Jump as high as you can. While in the air, rotate your body 90 degrees in either direction. Land softly back into the squat position. Repeat the process, changing direction if you feel like it.

8.Tuck jumps.

tand again, and jump straight up into the air. Bring your knees into your chest as you jump. Make sure that you land softly and firmly. Adjust your position if you need to, and repeat.

Why is Tabata So Popular?

Tabata interval training has been gaining popularity over the last several years. They are a nice alternative to traditional workouts, because they offer more variety and flexibility. You don’t have to do the same thing over and over again. You can mix things up as much or as little as you want to.

Other reasons why people have switched to Tabata training are:

  1. These workouts help burn fat. Tabata intervals are effective in burning off stubborn fat from our bodies. They raise our heart rate and metabolism. The metabolism increase often stays with people after they’ve finished their workout. This helps people burn fat even when they’re not exercising.
  2. They help retain muscle tissue. Although a lot of people love cardio exercise, one drawback of thsi kind of workout is that it tends to wear away a person’s muscle tissue. Tabata workouts put more strain on muscle tissue, which tells the body that more muscle tissue is needed. These kinds of exercise promote leaner bodies and increased, more efficient muscle tissue.

Tabata trainings are easy to learn and adapt to your own individual needs or workout requirements. There are different activities that you can perform to target different parts of the body. They also allow more of a rest period than the usual workouts that you see at a gym or fitness center.

You don’t need to have rock-hard abs or a chiseled figure to incorporate Tabata training into your everyday life.

Set goals, and mark off some time in your busy schedule to perform a few sets of exercises every day. You can even get your family members and friends involved and workout together. You’ll start to see the benefits in no time.

You’ll look better, feel better and have more energy and stamina. You’ll be able to tackle anything that life throws at you. All it takes is a few minutes of Tabata training a day to live a happier, healthier, longer and more fulfilling life.

MMA Specific Tabata Intervals

The best way to train for MMA, is to replicate techniques.

The SAID principle dictates that in order to build MMA-Specific Fitness, you must train with MMA-Specific movements.

You can use any combination really – and just repeat it for 20 seconds – but make sure you put 100% power and effort into each combination!

Perform the combinations in the left-most column below, using a punch bag, a pad-man or in a shadow-boxing fashion. The wrestling techniques are best performed on a partner:

MMA Tabata IntervalAll Combinations from Orthodox stance unless specified South Paw
StrikingNumber of 20 sec RoundsRound Rest
Right Cross, Left Hook, Right Roundhouse410 secs in between each round
Southpaw Stance – Jab, Cross, Hook, Left Roundhouse410 secs in between each round
1 minute before attempting second Tabata Interval
Cross, Hook, Cross – Hook, Cross, Hook410 secs in between each round
Left Front Kick, Left Low Roundhouse, Right Cross, Left Hook, Sprawl410 secs in between each round
MMA20 sec RoundsRound Rest
Left Front Kick, Double Leg Takedown-Shoot, Sprawl, Double Leg Takedown Shoot410 secs in between each round
Double Jab – Double Leg Takedown-Shoot, Sprawl, Double Leg Takedown-Shoot410 secs in between each round
1 minute before attempting second Tabata Interval
Left Side Kick, Superman Jab, Clinch – 2 Knees410 secs in between each round
Lay-Back/Shoulder Roll, Right Cross, Left Front Kick, Sprawl, Double Leg Takedown Shoot410 secs in between each round

MMA Shredded has a great Youtube channel for more combinations & techniques

mma infographic

Download all Workouts as a PDF here

You’ll also need a Tabata Interval Timer: