In-article:

the intense cardio training method

You've probably heard of HIIT, maybe less of the Tabata method which promises to burn us as many calories in 4 minutes of exercise as an hour of cardio. Initially reserved for athletes, Tabata exercise training is now coming to our living room to build muscle and lose calories in record time.

Those most informed on the subject will have made the connection with high intensity interval training, commonly called HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training, in other words high intensity interval exercises, which we will talk about in more detail in this article).
In fact, Tabata exercises are a form of training in short intervals, that is to say it is based on the alternation of short exercises performed at high intensity with periods of recovery or more moderate exercise. . The exercise is repeated several times.

The Tabata, how does it work?

Like HIIT, Tabata is characterized by its high intensity. It involves repeating exercises or a series of exercises 8 times for 20 seconds at high intensity, and recovering for 10 seconds.
Heavy exertion can cause you to reach up to 90% of your heart rate.

The promise ? 4 minutes of effort that offers as many benefits on our physical condition, our health, our figure and our performance as an hour of moderate intensity cardio (jogging type).

  • 20s of high intensity work
  • 10s rest
  • To achieve 8 times
  • Is 4 minutes of work (excluding warm-up and return to calm).

You can perform the same exercise, two alternating exercises, or eight different exercises mainly cardiovascular or muscle strengthening according to your goals.

The benefits and advantages of the Tabata method

  • She offers time saving : this is a method that allows us to save our time and make the most of the time dedicated to our training, if the exercises are performed well technically and at the appropriate intensity. You just need to find a few minutes in your schedule!
  • She allows train everywhere. There is no need for equipment or a gym to train, our body weight is enough. You can therefore practice anywhere at home or on vacation.
  • She boosts metabolism : Another beneficial effect is the " after-burn effect "That is to say the burning calories for hours after the workout.
  • She ward off cardiovascular disease and diabetes : the Tabata method helps strengthen the heart and lung capacities. It improves our sensitivity to insulin and therefore lowers the risk of diabetes.
  • She develop our stress resistance and increases our sports performance because it increases the anaerobic * and VO2 max ** capacities.


* VO2Max is the maximum oxygen uptake a body can consume during maximal aerobic dynamic exercise.
** The total amount of energy supplied by the energy process that does not use oxygen, during exercise.

The origins of Tabata

The Tabata protocol was developed for the training of the Japanese national speed skating team for the Olympic Games. If its name comes from Izumi Tabata, a Japanese researcher at the Graduate School of Sports and Health Sciences at Ritsumeikan University (Kyoto, Japan), Professor Tabata attributes the pioneering role of the method to the coach. Olympic Irisawa Koichi. His idea was to demonstrate that high-intensity physical exertion improves aerobic capacity, that is, the ability to maintain a certain intensity of exercise over an extended period of time.

Bluffing results
For this, the Professor carried out a study on two groups of cyclists.
> The first group had to perform continuous training at moderate intensity (at 70% of their VO2Max) for one hour, 5 times a week.
> The second, high-intensity interval training based on 7 or 8 sets of 20-second sprints (at 170% of their VO2Max) with an active rest period of 10 seconds, also 5 times a week.
After 6 weeks of training, athletes who trained according to the Tabata protocol had improved their anaerobic capacity by 28% and their VO2 max by 15%, while those who did continuous training had improved their ability to 0% anaerobic and 10% their VO2 max.

Who is the Tabata for?

It is possible for anyone to train with the Tabata method if it is suitable. The strictly applied protocol (respecting the correct heart rate) is reserved for athletes. But, "Since exercise is a bit dangerous for those who are not seasoned athletes, I would advise beginners to start low and stay in their comfort zone. Once they feel that they are getting stronger, then they can gradually increase the intensity ", explains Professor Tabata in an interview.

In any case, before starting to resume physical activity, seek the advice of your doctor and do not hesitate to contact professionals such as sports coaches.

Does Tabata Lose Weight?

While the study of the effect of Tabata on cyclists demonstrated health benefits, it does not apply to fitness or weight training exercises and does not measure potential weight loss. However, other studies of interval training, such as HIIT, have reported improvements in body composition because interval training burns more sugars and fat.
In 2012, a team of Australian researchers conducted a study on the effect of the HIIT protocol on body composition in overweight young men. After 3 sessions of 20 minutes of effort per week (8 seconds of alternating effort with 12 seconds of recovery) on a cycloergometer (velostatic, also called exercise bike) and this, for 12 weeks, the researchers observed a loss of 6.7% fat mass (i.e. 2 kg) and a 2.2% muscle gain (1.2 kg).

In fact, HIIT training causes weight loss in the sense of fat loss and not weight on the scale, since there is a gain in muscle mass.

How often to train to get results?

High intensity workouts take a lot of energy from the body. The body needs at least 48 hours to fully recover. It is therefore strongly recommended not to do two Tabata sessions in a row.

Do not forget to work on your fundamental endurance, that is to say to master a contained effort of moderate intensity. For example, doing a 45-minute running outing while being able to breathe, being able to hold a conversation while running for example. This basic endurance allows you to develop many of your physical capacities.

Then, start by incorporating a Tabata session into your workout, alongside a moderate intensity cardio session and a muscle strengthening session.

As the weeks go by, you will be able to integrate two workouts per week with special attention to your recovery to avoid injury or overtraining.

Some safety instructions before you start your workout

  • Always start with a warm-articular, muscular and cardio ten minutes.
  • Secure your training space.
  • If you are new to physical activity, it is best to start with a continuous effort of moderate intensity: swimming, jogging, cycling; before embarking on interval training like Tabata.
  • If you are already sporti.f / ve, adjust the intensity and difficulty of the exercises to your fitness level.
  • Do not do sessions on an empty stomach. Too intense a practice could cause inconvenience (hypoglycemia, malaise, dizziness).
  • Hydrate yourself before, during and after the session.

Equip yourself with a timer and have fun!

To avoid having your eyes fixed on your stopwatch, equip yourself with a timer. The latter will notify you of the start of your workout, exercises and the rest phase. There are many free apps to download: Tabata Timer for HIIT, My Tabata Timer, Runtastic Timer, etc.
On music streaming platforms, you will also find many playlists specially designed for the Tabata format with an integrated timer. The best known being Tabata Song. And if you're looking for inspiration for your workouts, Tabata Songs also has its Youtube channel.

There are a multitude of exercises that lend themselves to the Tabata, the most classic being the squat, push-ups, pull-ups, and muscle strengthening sheaths. On the cardio side, we find running, skipping rope, jumpings jacks, knee climbs.

Example of a cardio Tabata: knee lifts

How to do ? Make the most of knee fitted with the best possible technology for 20 seconds. Then recover for 10 seconds. To be performed 8 times.

How to do good knee climbs?
Beginner version: Stand with straight back, feet hip-width apart, elbows bent and close to the bust. Raise one knee and then the other alternately at hip height. Rest only the tip of the foot on the ground. Keep your abs engaged and your shoulders relaxed.

Seasoned version, the "tuck jump": Stand with straight back, feet hip-width apart, elbows bent and close to the bust. Inhale and on the exhale jump, bend the knees so that they are at hip height. Cushion the landing by engaging your mid-body and bending your knees slightly as your feet return to the ground. Then start again.

Example of a muscle building Tabata: the squat

How to do ? Perform as many squats as possible with the best possible technique for 20 seconds. Then recover for 10 seconds. To be performed 8 times.

How to do a squat well?
Beginner version: Standing, back straight, feet open a little wider than the width of the pelvis, elbows bent and close to the bust.
Inhale, push the glutes back and down until the glutes are up to the knees, as if you were sitting down. The back is straight, the shoulders relaxed, the knees turned outwards and the legs are parallel to the floor.
Engage the abdominals, exhale and push in the feet (heels firmly anchored to the ground) to stretch the legs and return to the initial position.

Seasoned version, the jump squat: Standing back right, open legs a little wider than the width of the pelvis, elbows bent and close to the bust.
Inhale, push the glutes back and down until the glutes are up to the knees, as if you were sitting down. The back is straight, the shoulders relaxed, the knees turned outwards and the legs are parallel to the floor.
Engage the abdominals, breathe out and push in the feet (heels well anchored to the ground) for tensioning legs and jump. Return directly to the squat position, cushioning the landing, and repeat.

Example of a full body Tabata: the burpees

How to do ? Perform as many burpees as possible with the best technique possible for 20 seconds. Then recover for 10 seconds. To be performed 8 times.

How to do a burpees well?
Beginner version without jump: Inhale, perform a squat (description above) as low as possible until your hands are on the ground, keeping your back straight. Support yourself with your hands on the floor and arms outstretched.
Engage the abdominals, exhale, straighten one leg after the other to come to a plank position, back straight, legs extended backwards, resting on the toes.
Inhale, lengthen the column. Exhale and bring back one leg after the other, feet as close as possible to the hands. Then go back into a squat, then stand up before setting off again.

Intermediate version with jumps: In the same starting position, perform a squat, then a small jump to straighten the legs back and come to a plank.
Do a little jump again to bring the feet closer to the hands. Go back up by performing jump squat (description above), arms towards the sky. And, start over.

Seasoned version with jumps and push-up: In the same starting position, perform a squat, then a small jump to come into a plank. Put your knees on the floor (or keep your legs straight) to do a push-up. Again, in plank position, bring the feet near the hands and perform a squat jump. Then start over.

Example of a cardio tabata and muscle strengthening to vary the pleasures

How to do ? Make the most of repetitions of each exercise with the best possible technology for 20 seconds. Then recover for 10 seconds. And, go to the next exercise.

  1. Jumping jack: Jump with your feet and hands apart. Come back by jumping arms alongside the body and feet together.
  2. Skater: Standing, move the right foot back and support on the bent left leg as if you were rollerblading. Alternate each side by performing (or not) a small jump.
  3. Dynamic board: In the plank position resting on the elbows, lift the right leg off the ground and then rest it before lifting the left leg. Alternate each side.
  4. Knee raises: Bring one knee after the other alternately at hip height.
  5. Jumping jack: Jump with your feet and hands apart. Come back by jumping arms alongside the body and feet together.
  6. Skater: Standing up, move the right foot back and support yourself on the bent left leg as if you were rollerblading. Alternate each side by performing (or not) a small jump.
  7. Dynamic board: In the plank position resting on the elbows, lift the right leg off the ground and then rest it before lifting the left leg. Alternate each side.
  8. Knee raises: Bring one knee after the other alternately at hip height.

My special Tabata and HIIT library

My Body Training Notebook, Elodie Sillaro, Solar Éditions, € 7.90.
This booklet offers you a 6-week training program to obtain a fit and strong silhouette. Thanks to its progressive trainings, you will strengthen yourself in depth to obtain a good foundation and avoid injuries, then gradually refine your silhouette and strengthen you overall but also with specific workouts (abs, glutes, back, etc.). And, dietary advice to progress faster and heal your recovery.

HIIT for women, Sean Bartam, Marabout, € 15.90
Sean Bartram coaches many athletes, sportspeople and celebrities. He is notably the trainer of a national team of cheerleaders in the United States, sportsmen with the dream figure. In this book, he reveals his secrets to obtain such results. There are many varied and fun sessions there, adapted to different levels and training schedules over 3, 7, 14 or 28 days.

HIIT – High Intensity Interval Training, Christophe Pourcelot and Maxence Vidal, Amphora, € 24.95
The two recognized specialists in bodybuilding and physical preparation offer us the keys to a booming training method: short and intense sessions for maximum results with a repertoire of more than 100 exercises, so impossible to get bored. At bodyweight, with original movements or using small equipment, the detailed sessions boosts fat loss, muscle development, strength gain and sheathing work for exhilarating trainings.