Latest Research Continues to Demonstrate the Benefits of Tabata Training

Michele Olson, PhD pictured with Dr. Izumi Tabata

Michele Olson, PhD pictured with Dr. Izumi Tabata

Tabata Training was actually founded in Japan by Mr. Irisawa Koichi, the head coach at the time of the Japanese speed skating team. Dr. Izumi Tabata was asked to work with the speed-skating Olympic team as their team trainer. His original studies were conducted back in 1996 on two groups of athletes; comparing moderate high intensity training with high intensity interval training. The results were that the athletes training in high intensity interval training improved both their aerobic systems as well as their anaerobic system. The athletes who did the moderate high intensity training only improved their aerobic system but had little to no increase in their anaerobic system.

According to Dr. Tabata, “The current regime consists of repetitions of 20 seconds of intense work, followed by 10 seconds of rest. This means that, excluding warming up and cooling down, the exercise can be completed in only 4 minutes if repeated 8 times, more than enough to make even a fit person exhausted. I found this exercise can improve the aerobics and aerobic metabolism of athletes, but I must continue to collect data. Many people theorize its positive effects, but we don’t absolutely know for sure, thus I came to Ritsumeikan University to further the body of research into such exercises.”

The original Tabata Protocol was performed on bicycles used for research testing and over the past seventeen years has been used in a wide variety of training, including cycling, running, rowing machine and body weight exercises such as body weight squat jumps. What is important to keep in mind, however, was that Dr. Tabata’s research is based on bouts of exercise (20 seconds) to exhaustion and repeated eight times following 10 seconds of rest.

New research presented this month at the annual ACSM meeting by Auburn University at Montgomery Exercise Science Professor Michele Olson, PhD. Her program consisted of four-minute bouts of explosive interval moves done for 20 seconds for eight rounds with a 10-second rest interval between each round. For her study, Olson used rounds of body weight squat jumps for the explosive moves. With a metabolic cart, Olson’s study subjects had their calorie burn measured before exercise, during a Tabata session, and 30 minutes post activity. Olson found that a Tabata routine burns a whopping 13.5 calories a minute and doubled the subjects’ metabolic rate for 30 minutes afterwards. According to Olson, “this particular style of interval training has profound effects even on short-term, post-exercise metabolism. It would take five times the amount of typical cardio exercise, like 20 minutes of very brisk walking, to shed the same number of calories that result from a four-minute Tabata.”

The end result is that his research and now others continually show, for almost 20 years, that this type of interval training works…plain and simple. Make sure that you are properly warm-up prior to doing this type of interval training and realize most people are probably doing a “modified” version of Tabata, as Dr. Izumi Tabata often says “If you feel OK afterwards you’ve not done it properly.”


Tabata I, Nishimura K, Kouzaki M, Hirai Y, Ogita F, Miyachi M, Yamamoto K. (1996). Med Sci Sports Exerc. 28(10):1327-1330. Effects of moderate-intensity endurance and high-intensity intermittent training on anaerobic capacity and VO2max.

Tabata I, Irisawa K, Kouzaki M, Nishimura K, Ogita F, Miyachi M. (1997). Med Sci Sports Exerc. 29(3):390-395. Metabolic profile of high intensity intermittent exercises.

Interview with Dr. Izumi Tabata at

Josh Coates interview with Michele Olson, PhD. at


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