What Is the 4-Minute Workout?

What Is the 4-Minute Workout?

What Is the 4-Minute Workout

During a Tabata workout, you do 8 sets of vigorous exercise of maximum effort for 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds of rest

Tabata is a 4-minute high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workout. During the 4 minutes of the workout, you do 8 sets of vigorous exercise of maximum effort for 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds of rest.

What are examples of a Tabata workout?

Examples of Tabata workouts include the following:

  • Push-ups (4 minutes) 
  • Bodyweight squats (4 minutes)
  • Burpees (4 minutes)
  • Mountain climbers (4 minutes)

Example protocol for a Tabata workout is as follows:

  • Start with push-ups. Perform them with maximum intensity for 20 seconds.
  • Rest for 10 seconds before returning to push-ups for 20 seconds.
  • Rest for 1 minute after completing 8 sets.
  • Progress to squats and continue the 20-second on and 10-second off pattern.
  • After you have completed 8 sets, rest for 1 minute and then perform burpees.
  • Finish the exercise with mountain climbers after burpees.

You can do Tabata intervals with many different types of exercises, such as running, biking, jump roping, and burpees:

  • Tabata running protocol: Run hard for 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds and then repeat 8 times.
  • Tabata bike protocol: Peddle hard for 20 seconds on a stationary bike, rest for 10 seconds and then repeat 8 times.
  • Tabata jump rope protocol: Perform as many double-unders or single-unders as you can in 20 seconds and then rest for 10 seconds before repeating 8 times.
  • Tabata burpee protocol: Perform as many burpees as you can in 20 seconds and then rest for 10 seconds before repeating 8 times.

Does the Tabata workout work?

During a Tabata workout, your body is pushed to use muscles so intensely that they reach the point of maximal oxygen intake at some point along the way. Your fitness levels steadily improve as you exceed this limit. The workout causes your body to create nitric oxide for vasodilation, which means that the inner muscles of your blood vessels react, causing them to expand and boost circulation. This allows blood, nutrients, and oxygen to circulate more efficiently to all parts of your body.

The goal is to give your all during the Tabata training intervals, which rapidly increases your metabolism and heart rate. If you work out as hard as you can, your body will instinctively work harder to keep up. Your heart will beat quicker, and your metabolism will increase, which is exactly what you want if you want to lose weight.

What are the benefits of the 4-minute HIIT workout?

Tabata is an excellent way to get an efficient workout in only 4 minutes. Benefits of Tabata include the following:

  • Promotes fat loss
  • Maintains lean muscle tissue
  • Enhances the ability to metabolize fats and carbs in muscles
  • Increases the production of fat-burning hormones
  • Increases work capacity for extended periods of time
  • Improves mental toughness 
  • Takes less time than traditional cardio sessions
  • Burns more calories per minute than other types of aerobic exercises


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What mistakes to avoid with a Tabata workout

Common mistakes to avoid with HIIT workouts like Tabata include the following:

  • Not warming up: Warm up your muscles and joints for best results and to avoid injury.
  • Not working out hard enough: If the high-intensity phases of your workout (the short bursts of all-out effort) aren’t challenging enough, you will not reap the benefits of HIIT.
  • Resting too much: You won’t get as much out of the workout if you give yourself too much rest time in between your high-intensity periods. This form of training is meant to be difficult.
  • Not resting between sessions: Because this workout is so tough, your body needs some rest in between sessions. If possible, try to rest at least a full day between HIIT sessions; otherwise, you risk injury or overtraining. Incorporate the 4-minute workout into your weekly exercise program and progressively increase the frequency over 90 days. Limit yourself to no more than 5 times each week.

What is the best way to approach the 4-minute workout?

Before starting a HIIT workout like Tabata, it is important to understand your body, fitness levels, and any underlying health conditions. If you are a beginner, tips to approach the 4-minute workout include the following:

  • Start slowly by doing fewer sets (instead of 8, start with 6 or even 2).
  • Lower the intensity of the exercise if needed.
  • Extend the rest period if you feel discomfort.

Although the 4-minute workout is efficient, it is not a quick fix for health or fitness. The best way to lose fat, get in shape, and avoid injury is to incorporate a mix of HIIT, regular cardio, and weight training in your overall fitness regimen.

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Medically Reviewed on 5/24/2022


Image Source: iStock Image

The 4-Minute Fat-Loss Workout: https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/features/the-4-minute-fat-loss-workout

The 4 Minute and 7 Minute Workout: Too good to be true? https://www.bumc.bu.edu/wellness/2013/06/28/the-4-minute-and-7-minute-workout-too-good-to-be-true/

Can a 4 minute workout be effective? https://www.sidmartinbio.org/can-a-4-minute-workout-be-effective/