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Anyone Use the Tabata Method?


Anyone do this? What exercises do you use? How often? When do you do it?

Tried it for the first time today, got through 3 sets 20 seconds of pushups before I died, and 5 sets of 20 seconds of squats. Yea, I'm a pussy, I know.

What's your experience?


Heard it's a killer with kettlebells. Have not tried it though. I believe there was also an article on it here about a year or so ago.



I have done tabata KB 'american' swings, "Tabata Something Else" which is 8 sets pullups/8sets pushups/8 sets situps/8 sets air squats. I do them at school when I'm pressed for time but wanna get a good workout in. Probably once a week is the frequency. I even tried tabata sprints once, which ended in me puking everywhere. Pretty good tool for your toolbox. I've been thinking of doing a tabata punch-out drill one of these days.

The key to success is pacing, as in shoot for, say 7 pullups, each round. If you blow your load on the first round or two, you won't be able to finish the drill in my experience.


LOL. Well, I've done the punch out drill on a heavy bag, but I took big breaks, like 30 secs. or a minute in between because it's so fucking exhausting... like one of those things that makes you lightheaded for ten minutes after.

See I was wondering about this... everywhere says, "Go all out" but when I go hard for the first 20 secs, by the third one I was fried. I'm new to this one, of course, but I still figure that you'd need a tremendous amount of endurance to be able to bang through all of the sets all balls to the wall.


You gotta use movements that involve your whole body or are primarily lower body. Anything else doesn't really work that well because, as you found out, it's impossible to finish all 8 sets. Small muscles get exhausted more quickly than larger muscles, and the larger muscles benefit more from the recovery time than the smaller ones do.

Dumbell swings and Medicine ball slams (against the ground, against a wall, throwing it up in the air and catching it) have all worked for me.


I have done pushups, body weight squats, pullups, burpees, situps, and wallsits for my workouts. I don't go for max effort but I also dont slack with 7 reps either though. I push myself just not to exhaustion in the first few sets


There was a discussion on this a while ago, on whether or not it was better to go all out or to pace yourself. You can most likely get more work done by pacing yourself, but I think you get a much more taxing challenge by going almost all out.

As for best exercises, Dan John's choice of front squats is probably best. I've also had a lot of fun with low weight jump squats alternating with kipping pullups.


I think using tabata with sprints would give interesting results.
Sprint 20 seconds, jog for 10 and repeat 7 more times.
Kind of like fartlek.


the usual sprint protocol is 10 on 20 off. I think 20 on is too much unless you are VERY well conditioned, as 20 sec maximal sprints are fucking hard as balls.


I did it recently with back squats, it's pretty ridiculous how much weight you have to lower to get through it. Helped out a ton with putting on size on my legs though.


Dude they are hard as hell
but so worth it.
cant you do tabata shots ?

I have done it with a bunch of different shit...
when I learned them , in college and at a "training" clinic-
we did mostly road work sprint jog, sprint jog
and burpees or squat thrusts.

typically I do
body weight squats
box jumps

front squats
and I went to crossfit NYC a few times, and did their version
the thruster- front squat to OH press.
they sucked.

DB snatch or DB cleans

Ive done them with
jump rope
sprints on a track pain in the ass to do- with other people around
sprints on an incline treadmil
sprints on a spinning bike super suck
on a versa climber
and on a rowing machine
most of the rowing machines can be programed to do any kind of interval with a work and rest period.

the sprints on a incline treadmil where a little crazy cause you jump on and off a moving treadmil
at like a stupid incline.
a very close second was the versa climber- and then the spinning bike.

dont use an eliptcal they are bullshit.

the deal is 8 sets of
20 secs on and 10 secs rest
counting reps... if you are doing a lift or a burpee or squat
you want to try for all the same reps as you get tired

I use a piece of paper and a marker it helps.

I never thought with these not going all out was an option
thats why the work period is so short :slightly_smiling:

work towards getting in all 8 sets

if you cant finish the sets change the postitive and negative times

double the rest period 20 work 40 rest or 15 work 30 rest

work toward one to one 20 work 20 rest

then two to one 20 work 10 rest.

with some stuff like O-lifts- you need to be resting
with the cardio you can go at a slower pace sprint - jog etc.

it really helps to have a decent stopwatch timer or what have you..

I have a heart rate monitor that has an interval timer- it helps allot..
just wish the beep was much louder.



I've pretty much done the same bodyweight stuff that others have done. High rep (several hundred reps for each PT exercise by the end of the workout)calisthenics workouts used to be a staple of mine a couple years ago so going all out on the push ups aren't a problem for me. If I do Tabata push ups, my first three or so sets are around 30 and then by the 8th set I'm only get about 15 or so reps.

What's a good amount of weight to use for a front squat or some of the weight lifting Tabata intervals? It seems even if you have a lighter weight you're going to pump out more reps and do more work so either way it would suck.


Interesting. I have both done them and incorporated them into my 8 week program for younger athletes, always in the last 2 weeks, after they have developed some aerobic and anaerobic capacity. We go 2x per week.

I have done them in all sorts of exercises: squat curls; squat shoulder raises; deep lunge shoulder presses (must maintain good level of speed in the lunge without sacrificing technique); various jumping routines. Ball busters all.

As for pacing, don't. Counterproductive. Actually not counterproductive but not as productive.

Take the squat curl, for example. At my advanced age, I used 2-25 pound dumb bells and did full squats with arms straight on the way down (ATG) and curling on the way up. Squatted as fast as possible without dropping and exploded up as fast as possible without jumping, usually pressing up on my toes while finishing the curl. I found I could get 12-13 reps per 20 seconds. Then, put the weight on a bench for 9 seconds, pick them up and keep going until complete. I didn't do shoulder presses (thrusters) because of structural issues and was hard pressed (no pun intended) to do the shoulder raises.

AS for the 5 sets, don't worry, build into over the next few weeks: add a set per week. Be sure when you are doing Tabatas that you get proper recovery. It is thought that the Japanese in the original study would have seen better improvements if they had taken time to recover. They went 5 days / week, I believe, but should check that again. It is a serious workout, nonetheless. I would be sweating for hours afterwards.

If you think back to the "cardio/running" thread, what are your thoughts having done Tabatas? Again, not trying to convert, and probably too soon to tell, but it would be interesting to hear your thoughts.


Have done it with pull-ups, weighted walking lunges, shoulder press and I think pushup was the last one.
Also sets with DB swings, ring pushups, more lunge variations and planks.

Some pain in the bollox when you start off first, but def. helps for conditioning and you soon start doing a lot more work in a shorter period of time...


From DJ's article:

Weight on the bar? Let's just say this: a guy with a 465 pound front squat puked with only 95 pounds on the Tabata front squat. Generally, I urge people to go "light," like 65 to 95 pounds the first time. There are those in this world who've gone up to 155 pounds and still got "eights" in the last twenty seconds, but those are very rare people!



For anyone interested, I have a 4 minute tabata mp3 that chimes at all the right intervals. It's useful if you don't have a timer.

You can also download one the tabata "songs" that the CrossFit people have put out:

Although personally, I find the beat and the guy counting a little annoying.


Or you could jut get one of these like I did, and be done with it.


you can also time out rounds for sparring. I think it was even on one of the articles "Things we like"


Yup here it is, first item


Oh and kmcnyc basically broke it all down for you. Although I disagree on the eliptical to a degree. Star Trac does have a brand that doesn't inclins and has a sliding foot position that I find works well with Tabata. Problem is it's a more intense workout machine and most gyms avoid ordering it.


Yes. I always use a stationary bike. Here is why:

To really do Tabata correctly, you must go all out. "All out" can become very subjective.

On a bike, here is what I know. I need to be a a given level, and a given RPM. So, let's say I am in good shape. I will do level 20 at 100+ RPM.

You keep pushing for that level. It gives you something objective to push towards. Now, some will slack, but whatever. The point is: You need to make this as objective as possible.

Most guys who finish all 8 sets are not going all out. They are going hard. It is a tough workout. But for Tabata to be Tabata, each set must be done at 100% intensity. Otherwise, you are not doing Tabata. You're just doing "hard intervals" or something.


Its the same on some of the other gear- the rower is a good choice- stroke count
or meters rowed etc.
wearing a heart rate monitor and using the tread mill is ok- but its allot of buttons to push on the watch to store the hear rate info.