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Tabata Lose Weight: Achieve Your Body Goals With A Simple 20-Minute Workout

What would you say if someone told you that by just working out for 4 minutes a day, you could reach and even surpass your fitness and weight loss goals? When it comes to exercising, many of us believe that the more time spent working out, the better. After all, the more you workout, the more calories you burn, right? While this has some truth to it, not everyone has the time or even wants to spend 30, 45 or even 60 minutes in a gym three to five times a week, to lose weight. For such people, alternative workouts that work up a sweat, burn a lot of calories, but can be done in a short time period are a much better option. This is where tabata for weight loss comes in. If you’re curious to learn more about tabata lose weight methods, how and why this form of exercise works and how you may incorporate it into your life and daily routines, keep on reading.

What Is A Tabata Workout And Where Did It Come From?

Named after its Japanese creator Izumi Tabata, this is a high intensity interval workout that helps with weight loss and muscle building. In a study published in 1996 Izumi and other researchers found that this mode of training was actually far more effective than other traditional modes.

In the study, Izumi took a number of Olympic speed skaters and divided them into two groups. The skaters in the first group were required to exercise by doing intense 20-second bursts followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeated for 4 minutes. They would do this four times a week and on the 5th day, they would do some steady-state training.

The second group had a more relaxed yet longer lasting training program. They exercised 5 days a week for 60 minutes with no breaks but at half the intensity of the first group. After 6 weeks of this study, Izumi and his fellow researchers found that the Olympians who trained at a high intensity had much greater cardiovascular, anaerobic, and endurance fitness than the more relaxed group – despite having trained for a much shorter time period – the Tabata group had only exercised for a cumulative 76 minutes a week, while the other group had worked out for 5 hours a week (3).

In light of this, a tabata workout can be defined as a type of timed HIIT workout where you exercise for 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off (rest) for eight consecutive rounds for 4 minutes. If you choose, you could just workout for these four minutes and be done for the day. However, some people consider all the exercises done in these four minutes as 1 set. They do 4 sets -with a 1 minute of rest per set – for a full 20 minutes training circuit per day.

Read More: Benefits Of Tabata Workout

What Are The Benefits Of Tabata?

Here are some reasons why you should consider adding this exercise to your routine:

  • It’s Time Efficient

As previously mentioned, tabata lose weight exercises are among the shortest routines available today. In just four minutes (or 20 minutes for a full session) you can be done with an intense workout and be ready to continue with the rest of your day/responsibilities. This is a fantastic option for anyone who finds it hard to even spare a simple 30 minutes a day to get a workout in.

  • It Increases Your Oxygen Uptake

Also known as VO2, oxygen uptake refers to the amount of oxygen that the body not only absorbs but also delivers to your working muscles – especially during exercise (11).

A study published in 2013 mentioned that not only did increased oxygen uptake help with human evolution, but it has also been linked to the decreased risk of lifestyle-related diseases such as cancer (specifically breast, colon, and prostate cancer), cardiovascular diseases, type II diabetes, and even Alzheimer’s disease (12).

This is not all that increasing VO2 is good for. The more oxygen you are able to uptake, the better your cardiovascular fitness. In 2017, a study published found that diet induced oxygen uptake increased after performing exhaustive high‐intensity intermittent exercise improved cardiovascular fitness (4). Good cardio fitness helps lower your blood sugar, the risk of heart disease and chronic pain, will help you sleep better and even lose weight. 

  • Improved Endurance

If you have been wanting to last longer at the gym but have found it hard since you always seem to tire out faster than you want, then getting in a tabata lose weight plan or just adding a simple tabata workout to your usual training plan could give you your much desired results.

Linked to the point above, tabata workouts lead to increased oxygen uptake which eventually increases your endurance. According to an older study published in 1984, increased fatigue is caused by limited oxygen supply in the body and muscles. When there is an increased uptake of it and the muscles are able to utilize the extra oxygen, you are fatigued less, which boosts how long you can last in the gym with high energy levels (15).

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  • Can Increase Your Metabolic Rate

According to a very recent study published in 2020 in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, a tabata workout can help boost your metabolism through increased irisin concentration in the blood (2). For anyone who may not be aware, Irisin is a recently (2012) discovered hormone that is secreted from the muscles in response to exercise (due to muscle contraction). In humans, this hormone is said to help with weight loss, thermoregulation, increased metabolism, and much more (9, 10). Remember that a fast metabolism means that your body burns calories faster which equals faster weight loss or even being able to eat a lot without gaining weight, while a slow metabolism means harder weight loss and much quicker weight gain.

  • Weight Loss

Many people looking for tabata workouts for beginners are often trying to lose some weight. But is tabata really effective? Can you lose weight using such a short workout? Yes, you can – a fact proven by several studies.

The first and most important thing to remember is that tabata is a form of HIIT workout that for years has helped people shed those stubborn pounds. In a comparative study published in 2015 in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, researchers found that HIIT exercises burned anywhere between 25 to 30 percent more calories than other forms of exercises i.e. weight lifting, endurance running on the treadmill, endurance cycling (1).

Secondly, HIIT exercises help your body burn calories long after your workout is done. While burning calories as you’re working out is good, to lose weight you must try and make sure that your body is expending energy even when you are resting. In 2014, a comparative study published in the Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism journal found that despite HIIT workouts taking a shorter time to complete than traditional workout modes, they still helped your body continue to expend energy, even 24 hours a workout (7).

A year later, another study done on women also found that HIIT (high-intensity interval running in this case), produced greater post-exercise resting energy expenditure as compared both to high-intensity resistance training and aerobic endurance exercise (14).

A more recent study done on about 58 adolescents (both boys and girls) found that Tabata is quite effective in reducing body weight, waist-to-hip ratio, and body fat percentage (5).

Read More: Tabata Intervals: The Science Behind This Killer Workout


What Are The Cons Of Tabata Workouts?

  • It’s a very brutal workout – While most types of HIIT workouts can be considered as intense, nothing quite compares to the intensity needed to complete even a single set (4 simple minutes) of a Tabata workout. Remember that this workout demands a 20:10 system (20 seconds of all-out effort followed by 10 seconds of rest) for about 8 cycles. This system is hard for anyone, but more especially for beginners. It might be easier and safer for you to first try other types of exercises before diving into this one
  • Consistency can be hard – The easiest way to stick to a workout plan is to find something that you enjoy doing as it increases your likelihood of sticking with it and achieving your goals. While Tabata for weight loss can help you reach your goals, it’s very hard to enjoy and thus very hard to like. You may find yourself avoiding workouts which would interfere with your consistency.

Tabata Vs. HIIT: What Is The Difference?

The simplest way to explain this is that tabata is a form of HIIT and not all types of HIIT are Tabata. There are many kinds of HIIT exercises that exist today. The main difference between them and this is that Tabata demands higher intensity and has shorter and more rigidly defined workouts. Basically not all HIIT exercises come with a 20-10 pattern. Most are actually more flexible and have longer rest times.

Is 20 Minutes Of Tabata Enough?

When you look up guidelines for exercise, the CDC recommends either 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity, or 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity activity or an equivalent combination. The World Health Organization on the other hand, recommends at least 150–300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity or at least 75–150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity; or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity throughout the week (8, 13). Using these guidelines, it is clear that 20 minutes of tabata are enough to keep fit and even lose weight effectively.

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Is It OK To Do Tabata Everyday?

No, it is not. A statement that applies to all kinds of workouts, not just Tabata. Rest days are an important part of every workout routine. They allow your muscles to rest and repair themselves, allowing them to heal and grow. 

With rest days you are more at risk of injury, mental exhaustion, reduced endurance, burnout (both at the gym and in life), etc. If you want to try the tabata lose weight method, we suggest doing it 4 days a week, do some cardio on the 5th day, and rest for the sixth and seventh day.

Does Tabata Burn Belly Fat?

Yes, it does. As mentioned above, tabata, like all other kinds of HIIT workouts, is incredibly effective in burning calories and weight loss. Infact, according to one study published in 2013 in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, this workout burns anywhere between 240 and 360 calories in 20 minutes – an average of 15 calories per minute (6). With such high numbers of calories burned in just 20 minutes, tabata will certainly help you lose belly fat.

The Bottom Line

If tabata lose weight exercise is your chosen weight loss method, then you are certainly on the right track to finally getting rid of those stubborn pounds. Like all HIIT workouts, Tabata not only burns a lot of calories during the exercise session, but it helps your body continue burning calories even while you’re resting, which does wonders for weight loss.

However, this exercise is quite intense so it’s advisable to practice caution. If you have any underlying conditions, please speak to your doctor first before attempting this workout. For beginners in fitness, please either choose easy tabata workouts for beginners or better yet, work on your cardio fitness and strength ( through traditional cardio and weight lifting workouts) before attempting this routine.


This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!


  1. Caloric expenditure of aerobic, resistance, or combined high-intensity interval training using a hydraulic resistance system in healthy men (2015, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  2. Effect of HIIT with Tabata Protocol on Serum Irisin, Physical Performance, and Body Composition in Men (2020, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  3. Effects of moderate-intensity endurance and high-intensity intermittent training on anaerobic capacity and ˙VO2max (1996, journals.lww.com)
  4. Effects of short‐lasting supramaximal‐intensity exercise on diet‐induced increase in oxygen uptake (2017, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  5. Effects of Tabata Training During Physical Education Classes on Body Composition, Aerobic Capacity, and Anaerobic Performance of Under-, Normal- and Overweight Adolescents (2020, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  6. Exercise Intensity and Energy Expenditure of a Tabata Workout (2013, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  7. High-intensity interval exercise induces 24-h energy expenditure similar to traditional endurance exercise despite reduced time commitment (2014, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  8. How much physical activity do adults need? (2022, cdc.gov)
  9. Irisin (n.d., sciencedirect.com)
  10. Irisin: A Hope in Understanding and Managing Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome (2019, frontiersin.org)
  11. Oxygen Consumption (n.d., sciencedirect.com)
  12. Oxygen Consumption and Usage During Physical Exercise: The Balance Between Oxidative Stress and ROS-Dependent Adaptive Signaling (2013, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  13. Physical activity (2020, who.int)
  14. The acute effect of exercise modality and nutrition manipulations on post-exercise resting energy expenditure and respiratory exchange ratio in women: a randomized trial (2015, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  15. The role of maximal oxygen uptake in exercise performance (1984, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
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