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Tabata Vs. HIIT: Which Workout is the Best?

If you're trying to decide which between HIIT and Tabata and which one is the best for you. Read more to discover the science and the differences between the two workouts.

Sandra Adams
Tabata Vs. HIIT: Which Workout is the Best?
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If you're looking to get in shape, you've probably heard of Tabata and HIIT workouts. But which one is right for you? Tabata and HIIT workouts are both prevalent types of exercise, but they have different benefits.

Tabata is a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) program that involves 20 seconds of intense exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest. The Tabata protocol can be used with different exercises like running and cycling.

This blog post will discuss the science behind Tabata and HIIT so you can decide which workout is best for you!

What is Tabata

Tabata is a type of HIIT created by Dr. Izumi Tabata of Japan in 1996. Tabata consists of 20 seconds of intensive exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest. Tabata workouts are typically done in 4-minute sets and can be applied to various exercises.

While it seems like an easy workout, Tabata is intense and requires much effort. Tabata has been shown to increase anaerobic capacity and improve short-term muscular endurance. Tabata has also been shown to increase VO2 max (a measure of your body's aerobic power), burn more calories, and improve your overall fitness level.

Science Behind Tabata

Tabata is based on high-intensity interval training (HIIT). HIIT is an exercise that involves short bursts of intense physical activity followed by periods of rest or low-intensity activity. Tabata takes HIIT one step further by adding in the 10-second rest period.

Tabata is more effective than other forms of HIIT in terms of increasing aerobic capacity and improving short-term muscular endurance. Still, it's an entirely different workout, according to Dr. Tabata's original research. Athletes have used Tabata to improve their performance in a variety of sports.

Let's ponder upon the initial research paper Tabata and his team conducted back in 1996. Tabata studied two groups of amateur athletic males in their mid-twenties: the first group pedaled on an ergometer for sixty minutes at moderate intensity (70% of VO2 max), and the second group pedaled for 20 seconds, followed by 10 seconds of rest, for 4 minutes (completing 7 to 8 sets total) at maximal effort.

As Tabata planned, Tabata-styled HIIT was much more effective in increasing anaerobic capacity and improving short-term muscular endurance than traditional HIIT.

While Tabata came out victorious, proving that 4 minutes of Tabata HIIT workout can be as effective as 60 minutes of traditional aerobic training, It's not only shocking but also a great way to save time while still getting the same benefits.

Tabata is definitely worth giving a try!

What is HIIT

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a type of exercise that involves alternating periods of high-intensity and low-intensity activity. HIIT is based on the idea that short bursts of intense exercise can maximize energy expenditure, increase cardiovascular endurance, and improve overall health. It is becoming increasingly popular due to its efficiency; in just 10–30 minutes, HIIT has been shown to provide similar health benefits as twice as much moderate-intensity exercise.

The Science Behind HIIT

The science behind HIIT is based on the concept of anaerobic exercise and using oxygen during physical activity. This type of exercise involves short, intense bursts of effort followed by brief recovery periods, allowing the body to regain its energy levels and continue with further activity.

During this type of exercise, a person's heart rate and oxygen consumption increase rapidly due to the intense nature of the workout.

HIIT has been proven more effective at increasing cardiorespiratory fitness than traditional aerobic exercise, such as jogging or cycling for long distances.

A study conducted by researchers at McMaster University found that participants who completed six weeks of HIIT training experienced more significant increases in maximal oxygen uptake than those who completed moderate-intensity continuous training. This suggests that HIIT can improve overall cardiovascular fitness faster than traditional aerobic activities.

In addition to increasing cardiorespiratory fitness, HIIT can burn fat more effectively when compared with low-intensity endurance exercises. Studies have shown that a single session of HIIT can result in up to 15 percent greater fat loss than more extended-duration activities such as jogging or cycling for the same time.

Finally, evidence shows that regular HIIT may reduce risk factors associated with metabolic diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure. Studies have found that this form of exercise can help lower glucose levels in diabetic patients and improve cardiovascular function in individuals with hypertension.

All these benefits make high-intensity interval training an ideal form of exercise for health maintenance and performance enhancement goals!

How to Measure Exercise Intensity

Measuring exercise intensity is essential to ensure you get the most out of your workout. There are several ways to measure exercise intensity to ensure you stay within the right intensity level for your fitness goals and avoid over-exerting yourself.

Exertion Rating Scale

One of the most straightforward approaches is to use an exertion rating scale, a simple numerical scale used to rate levels of perceived exertion. It ranges from 6 (no exertion) to 20 (maximal effort).

This method relies on how you feel; if you feel like you're working hard enough, that correlates with reaching a certain number on the exertion rating scale.

Monitor Heart Rate

Another common way to measure exercise intensity is by monitoring your heart rate during your workout. As the intensity of exercise increases, so too does your heart rate. Knowing this information can help you figure out what intensity level you need to be at to reach your fitness goals.

Additionally, tracking heart rate can be especially helpful if you're trying to maximize fat-burning potential or improve aerobic capacity.

Oxygen Consumption Test

You can also measure exercise intensity using oxygen consumption testing, which calculates how much oxygen is consumed during physical activity and correlates it with energy expended per unit of time. Oxygen consumption testing is typically done in a lab setting or with special equipment like a treadmill test or cycle ergometer test. It provides accurate data about how hard your body works during exercise.

Talk Test

Finally; the talk test is another way to measure exercise intensity without special equipment or tests. If it becomes difficult for you to talk when exercising, then you are likely working at a higher intensity level than what's comfortable for conversation.

This method works best when walking or jogging at moderate-to-high speed; it doesn't work as well for activities like weightlifting because they don't require continuous movement or as much oxygen intake as aerobic activities do.

What's the Difference — HIIT Vs. Tabata

Tabata and HIIT are both High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) forms. While they both involve intense bursts of activity followed by periods of rest or lower-intensity movement, the main difference between Tabata and HIIT is yet to be discovered; let's discuss the main difference below!

Rest Period

HIIT typically consists of exercises that last between 10 seconds to two minutes, with rest periods in between. It usually lasts between 15-30 minutes and is designed to get your heart rate up and keep it up for the entire session. On the other hand, Tabata is a form of HIIT that lasts only four minutes. During this time, you perform one exercise for 20 seconds, followed by 10 seconds of rest for a total of 8 rounds.

Finally, when it comes to rest periods, HIIT sessions last longer than Tabata sessions. You will likely require less recovery time after a HIIT workout than a Tabata workout.


In terms of types of exercises, HIIT can involve any movement such as squats, burpees, and mountain climbers, as well as some plyometric work such as jumping jacks and high knees. The advantage here is that these exercises work for multiple muscle groups simultaneously, meaning you can quickly achieve maximum benefit.

On the other hand, Tabata workouts are much more focused on aerobic activities like running, cycling or rowing. Although you can do any exercise for a Tabata set as well.

Both HIIT and Tabata workouts provide excellent ways to fit quickly with minimal equipment.

Workout Duration

The main difference between Tabata and HIIT in terms of workout duration is that Tabata workouts are typically much shorter than HIIT workouts. Tabata usually consists of four minutes of intense exercise, while HIIT can range from 20 to 40 minutes. That said, some modern Tabata workouts may be longer than four minutes.

For those who want to get fit quickly but don't have much time, these two types of interval training offer the perfect solution as they both yield quick results in relatively short periods.


One key difference between HIIT and Tabata is the length and intensity of each type of workout. HIIT workouts typically last about 20 to 30 minutes and involve alternating intense activity and rest or recovery.

The rest period can vary from a few seconds to several minutes, depending on the individual's fitness level. On the other hand, Tabata workouts only last for a few minutes. This shorter duration makes it more time efficient than HIIT but also significantly more intense.

Weight Loss

Another key difference between HIIT and Tabata in weight loss is the number of calories burned. Generally speaking, HIIT workouts burn more total calories than a Tabata workout due to their longer duration and prolonged intensity levels during the active intervals.

On average, an individual can expect to burn up to 15 calories per minute during a HIIT session while only burning approximately 8 calories per minute during a typical Tabata workout. However, due to its higher intensity level, Tabata workouts can lead to greater EPOC (Excess Post Exercise Oxygen Consumption), which means that after completing a Tabata workout, an individual may continue to burn additional calories at a higher rate for up to 48 hours afterward than compared with what would be burned after a traditional HIIT session.

In summary, HIIT and Tabata are great options for those looking for an effective way to lose weight through exercise. Still, they differ in intensity, duration, and calorie-burning potential. Individuals can choose which might work best for them based on their fitness goals and available time commitment.

Which One is for You?

The answer depends on your individual needs and preferences when deciding between Tabata and HIIT. Tabata is a shorter, more intense workout that requires strict adherence to time intervals. On the other hand, HIIT offers more flexibility concerning time and intensity.

Ultimately, it all comes down to what type of workout makes you feel your best and allows you to reach your fitness goals.


When it comes to finding the right type of exercise for a beginner, both Tabata and HIIT have their advantages.

Ultimately, it will depend on your goals and what appeals most to you personally. Some people prefer shorter workouts, while others may thrive with longer sets; some may find that Tabata helps with weight loss faster than HIIT does, while others enjoy the challenge that HIIT provides for more advanced fitness levels. It really boils down to understanding your body's needs and fitness level.

Suppose you're a beginner looking for an effective workout routine but don't want to invest too much time or energy into it. In that case, Tabata might be a better option for you than HIIT. However, suppose you're looking for something more intense or ready to take your workouts up a notch from the beginner level. In that case, HIIT might be the best route to take.


Regarding deciding between Tabata and HIIT as a professional, both have their strengths and weaknesses.

Both exercises are great options for professionals; however, it depends on your primary goals. If you're looking for a quick way to get into shape quickly, then Tabata might be best for you; however, if you prefer more endurance training and want to maximize your results, HIIT might be better suited for your needs.


1. Is it OK to do Tabata every day?

Yes, it is OK to do Tabata every day. Since it's so easy to mix up Tabata-style routines, you can create different exercises to target other muscle groups. This means you can easily incorporate Tabata workouts into your daily routine.

2. Which is better, cardio or Tabata?

That depends on what your fitness goals are. Cardio is good for cardiovascular health, whereas Tabata is great for high-intensity interval training and quickly burning calories. If you're looking for a quick way to burn fat and increase your endurance, Tabata is the best choice.

3. Can You Do HIIT And Weight Training On The same day?

Yes, you can do HIIT and weight training on the same day. HIIT is a great way to burn calories quickly and increase your endurance. It can be combined with weight training for an effective workout. However, you should make sure to give your body enough rest in between each session.


Tabata and HIIT are great workout options to help you reach your fitness goals. Tabata is great for quickly burning calories, while HIIT is great for increasing endurance. Depending on your goals, either one can be a great choice. Ultimately, the proper workout is the one that you enjoy doing.

Choose a workout you can stick with, and you'll surely see results!

Good luck!

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Sandra Adams

Hi, I'm Sandra Adams, a certified personal trainer and fitness blogger dedicated to helping women reach their health and wellness goals. With over a decade of experience in the fitness industry, I specialize in crafting effective, easy-to-follow workout routines that fit into even the busiest schedules. 

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