Tabata interval training: 20 minutes to change

Maybe you don't know yet interval training or the Tabata method. Shame !

But you're going to fix that today, because it would be a real mistake to miss it.

Doctor Izumi Tabata's protocol is an incredibly effective and fast split program. This technique has been widely scientifically tested to lose weight and build muscle.

It consists of a 4-minute session broken down into 8 phases of 20 seconds of extremely intense exercise followed each time by 10 seconds of recovery.

This article is the continuation of the one on benefits of the Tabata method. I strongly encourage you to read it first to fully understand this one.

Who is interval training for?

This protocol is particularly suitable for you if:

  1. You are already used to play sports and you have no particular health problem.
  2. You want to lose fat while gaining muscle. You should know that it is generally impossible to pursue these 2 objectives at the same time.
  3. You find it difficult to devote more than an hour and a half a week to sport because of your schedule or your obligations.

It is true that we often refer to interval training when we talk about running.

But you will see that this type of training perfectly suited to bodybuilding or home fitness.

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The Tabata method in a nutshell

Long story short, you're going to give it your all for 20 seconds, and recover for 10 seconds. But when I tell you to give it your all, that's really EVERYTHING! You repeat this treatment 8 times in 4 minutes to lose weight faster and boost your metabolism.

Today I'm going to help you implement the Tabata protocol in a 20 minute program to get the most out of it. This session will correspond to an official model validated by Doctor Tabata himself.

You will see that it is not very complicated. You can really build muscle and lose weight fast at home with this type of workout.

But first, I must clarify an important point about this exceptional method.

A mistake often made with Tabata

The most common mistake is to think that a Tabata session must contain several sets of 4 minutes of the protocol.

NO, it is not necessary, and it is even counterproductive.

Adjustable dumbbells 24kg

How to incorporate it into your interval training

To get the best results, you should do only one set of 4 minutes in your 20 minute session.

I know you might be scratching your head right now. You are probably asking yourself this question: “So what do I put in the remaining 16 minutes, Stéphane? »

This is what I will explain to you later…

POINT TO REMEMBER: If you do multiple Tabata cycles during your session, it is no longer an official Tabata session. And you risk losing the benefits of your interval training by overdoing it.

In short, "too much Tabata kills Tabata" as the Dalai Lama said (well, I think he said it, but I'm not sure 😉 ).  

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Either way, you risk burning out and eventually giving up if you overdo it.

During the 4 minutes of the split protocol, you really have to push your body to its limits. The basic principle established by Izumi Tabata is that the human body can perform powerful, explosive and dynamic movements in a very intense way. Most of us don't even know what their potential is in this area.

It is exactly this potential that the Tabata protocol will reveal and develop.

And these 4 minutes Tabata can be integrated into a 20-minute program that must meet several criteria to increase the benefits.

Here are the principles:

How to Establish Your Tabata Program

establish Tabata interval training program

A 20-minute split program established according to the rules set by Doctor Tabata must use polyarticular exercises such as push-ups, squats, burpees, etc.

Indeed, these exercises should drastically increase your heart rate. You won't be able to do this with single-joint movements like bicep curls.

It is this intensity in the exercises that will cause the changes in your aerobic and anaerobic capacity that I talked about in the previous article. And these changes are the key to improve your physical condition very quickly.

Here are the objectives achievable thanks to the Tabata protocol:

  • Naturally increase the calories burned by your body, even during rest phases. This will have a huge influence on your fat loss.
  • Improve your metabolic functions, develop your lung and heart capacities.
  • Develop your muscle volume and endurance.
  • Increase your bone density and promote joint health.
  • Reduce the risk of heart disease, hypertension and type 2 diabetes.

The ideal is to choose only 2 exercises alternately during the 4 minutes of the protocol.

But you will see that there are many exercises that you can use before and after this 4 minute phase.

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Your Tabata interval training must consist of 5 modules

Why 5 mods?

Because it is the model provided by Doctor Tabata to get the best results from his protocol. That is to say to lose weight quickly while gaining muscle volume.

It's your goal ?

Yes, so implement these different steps in your workout at home. Don't assume it's too complicated.

It's just a matter of adaptation for a short week. Then you won't even think about it.

Anyway, I'll give you a sample session at the end.

Here are the 5 modules of a Tabata session:

MODULE 1 of a Tabata interval workout: Warm-up

This module includes dynamic movements whose objective is to increase your heart rate, your body temperature and your flexibility.

Thus, you prepare for the following exercises by limiting the risk of injury.

Muscle gain with elastics

MODULE 2 of the Tabata method: Conditioning/Cardio

This part focuses on your strength, cardiovascular capacity and stability. It includes postural exercises and plyometrics (work on power and explosiveness).

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This module will help you quickly improve your physical condition and reach your weight goals faster. Through these exercises, you will finalize the preparation of your cardiovascular system and your muscles for the 4-minute Tabata module.

MODULE 3 of a Tabata interval training: The Tabata itself

Yes, you have to get there anyway.

You were able to follow the process in the previous article. It's 20 seconds of exercise at your maximum intensity followed by 10 seconds of recovery. This cycle should be repeated 8 times in 4 minutes.

It is particularly this module that will improve your anaerobic and aerobic capacities. It is also thanks to him that your body will continue to burn calories, even when you are at rest.

This module is therefore particularly important for burning fat.

MODULE 4 of the Tabata protocol: Core training

Core training is an essential part of any sports program. Indeed, your abdominal strap plays a particularly important role in almost all the movements of your body.

The objective of this module is to strengthen your abdominal strap when your body is at its maximum level of fatigue. Doing so will dramatically improve your muscular endurance and stability.

MODULE 5 of a Tabata interval training: Recovery

In this part, you will perform stretching exercises that will improve the flexibility of your joints and muscles.

This module is particularly important:

  1. to speed up your recovery;
  2. to let your heart rate come down slowly;
  3. and in order to lower your body temperature gently.

You will quickly notice that this recovery phase will also have a positive effect on the quality of your next sessions.

3 keys to successful Tabata sessions

3 keys to interval training

Before concluding with a session model, I would like to give you these 3 important tips:

Key 1: Do yourself violence

Yes, to give your maximum during your Tabata module, you must give the best of yourself. 

This is the key to your success in losing weight and building muscle at the same time. 

Give all you can during those 4 minutes. You should not keep any underfoot for the end of the session. 

For 4 minutes, you must feel like you're overreacting. And that's okay! 

Even when you feel like you've done your best, do one more rep. And even when you can't do more correct reps, keep moving, perhaps reducing the range of motion. 

But never stop during the 20 seconds. 

This is the price to pay to respect the Tabata protocol.

Key 2: Consider your level

Indeed, the Tabata was designed for everyone. 

This might seem contradictory to the previous point, but it is not. 

You need to push yourself to your max, but that doesn't mean choosing an exercise that is out of your reach. 

So start with exercises within your reach. For example, if you can't do normal push-ups, you might be able to do push-ups with your knees on the floor or resting your arms on a table. 

The important thing is to be able hold 20 seconds without stopping. The results will come by pushing your limits session after session. 

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So, don't stop moving.

Key 3: Be consistent 

The more Tabata sessions you do, the more familiar you will be with the exercises. 

Your body will adapt improving your physical condition to levels you never imagined. 

Gradually, your sessions will become more intense and your results will be even faster.

A 20-minute Tabata interval workout

The names of the exercises are not necessarily obvious, I grant you that. That's why I invite you to watch the video links to familiarize yourself with each movement.

To program exercise times

Module 1: Warm-up (45 seconds per exercise)

Back lunges (Reverse Lunges)

Plank with re-entrant elbow and rotation

Back lunges with knee grab alternating the supporting leg (the video shows the work for one side only)

Plank with re-entrant elbow and rotation

Module 2: Cardio (30 seconds per exercise)

Side jump

On-site jogging

3 vertical jumps, 3 Air Squats (do them in sequence)

Jumping Jacks


Rest (90 seconds)

Module 3: Tabata (20 seconds at 120 % followed by 10 seconds rest)

Burpees (don't do push-ups during the movement if it's too hard for you)

Flying Sumo Plank or the Flying Sumo Board (I really like the French translation 😀 )


Rest (30 seconds)

Module 4: Core training (30 seconds per exercise)

bicycle crunch

plank balance (see picture below). You must raise one leg and the opposite arm at the same time while maintaining your balance. Count to 5 then switch arms and supporting legs. Repeat until the 30 seconds are up.

Balance board for the abdominal strap


MODULE 5: Recovery (45 seconds per exercise)

Rolled up – Unrolled (touch your toes if possible)

rocking table



Here you have everything you need to do Tabata sessions. You will change your physique in the blink of an eye 😉

Oh, I'm not telling you it will be easy. Far from there !

But if you stick with it and follow this program 3 times a week, you'll be amazed at your ability to lose weight and build muscle. You'll be convinced that you don't need to run to do interval training.

Of course, interval training is particularly effective if you also put effort into your diet. Don't forget that you dig your grave with your teeth, as an old proverb says.

If you need to lose weight quickly and multiply the effects of your sports sessions at home, discover the program I learn to eat to lose weight :

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Are you having trouble losing weight?

You can forget your extra pounds if you follow this new plan with simple actions. Lose up to 1 kilo of fat per week without starving yourself and take back control of your body.

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8 réflexions sur “Entraînement fractionné Tabata : 20 minutes pour changer”

  1. Hello and thank you,

    I read the article actually I was doing the program with the elastic bands with the given number of repetitions I should change something else in this program? how to lower the repetitions by increasing the strength?

    I forgot to say that measures over 1.90 I don't know if that also counts since the muscles are lengthened by function, right?

      1. Hello,

        Okay, and for the exercises with duration how do I proceed?

        I use the 4-day routine in split, and above all, how do I transform it into a tabata?

          1. Hello,

            Alright, I'm going to make myself a program with the articles mentioned.

            Thanks again for this information!

            Good continuation 🙂

  2. Hello,

    I am ectomorphic, but sporty and “muscular” and I would like to know which methods to use between Tabata and Hiit and which program so as not to mess things up.

    Thank you !

    1. Hello Matthew,

      In fact Tabata workouts are a form of HIIT since it is high intensity. You can also put the Insanity method that I also talk about sometimes.

      But for an ectomorph, training with longer rest times is often more suitable, while HIIT promotes the burning of body fat for 48 hours.
      Read the article and follow a training program that promotes muscle mass gain such as this one if you use dumbbells or this program to gain volume with elastic bands.

      Good training !

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