TABATA vs HIIT: Which Workout is Better for You and Why
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Have you gone to every fitness class at your gym? Tried every new fad and trend on the market and still aren’t seeing results? Perhaps you need to dig a little deeper, my friend.

Not during your workout – no, I think the effort isn’t the problem here It’s the research.

In this article, we’re going to be breaking down two popular workouts to help you decide which one is more up your alley.

Today’s Top Contenders: Tabata vs. HIIT

women training in gym

A little older, a little more experienced, Tabata training was introduced in the 1990s and since early in that decade, they’ve been revolutionizing how – and how long – people are working out.

Although interval training has been around seemingly since the 1800s, HIIT training popped up on the scene within the last decade.

We’ll get into detail later about the strengths and weaknesses of each type of training. Also, the key differences between the two types of training will be included to help you decide which training to follow.

Don’t believe what you’re reading?

Try it out yourself, then! You can also perform the examples of each type of workout below and choose which one is better suited for you.

You don’t think working out is for you? Here are two articles that will you convince you otherwise:

Word of caution: Before doing any type of workout, always seek advice from your doctor to know which workouts are best suited for your body.

HIIT vs. Tabata for Weight Loss

Tabata and HIIT are both interval training types of exercising.

girl doing push ups

Interval training is a form of exercise which increases your metabolism by repeatedly raising and lowering your heart rate over the course of the workout.

Both Tabata and HIIT also increase your Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC). EPOC allows you to keep on burning calories – long after exercising – even up to 2 hours (so you can get in that extra doughnut post-workout and still burn it off).

Overall, with Tabata and HIIT workouts, you can burn more calories in a short amount of time – even while catching up on your Netflix binge – while at the same time, still improve the condition of your heart and lungs.

What is HIIT?

HIIT stands for High-Intensity Interval Training.

HIIT involves intense, quick bursts of exercises which are made to be super accessible, even if you are a beginner. During those short bursts, you should be getting to your max and working your butt off.

In HIIT training, you have to do the high-intensity exercises at a high work-rate and actively rest in between the intervals by jogging, stretching or walking.

Normally, intervals are measured in a 1:2 ratio of work to rest. For example, you can sprint for 30 seconds and then jog for 1 minute.
All it takes is 10 minutes out of your day and your workout is DONE. Welcome to the 21st century, where we no longer have to run on the treadmill for an hour to have a good workout.

Pros of HIIT Workout

  • Increase in your metabolism: Studies have revealed that the growth hormone of humans can be stimulated to rise by up to 450% after a HIIT training, which successively increases one’s metabolism.
  • HIIT exercises can be done anywhere: Although one can integrate weights and machinery into the workout, no equipment is required, so it is easy to exercise at home.
  • A lot of fat is burned: Your body‘s repairing cycle builds up and works quickly during the workout, meaning fat can be burned up in a shorter space of time.
  • It is time efficient: HIIT sessions are short, making them perfect for anybody with a tight plan. Although you may not have time to make to the gym, you should have a few, spare minutes you can dedicate to working out.

Cons of HIIT

  • There is a higher risk of injury: When you’re moving at a fast speed, your form may not be correct. If you’re uncertain, consult a personal trainer for advice.
  • HIIT can result in dizziness: Transitioning from sitting and standing rapidly can lead to a sudden drop in blood pressure, resulting in a light-headed feeling. If this occurs, you should rest until you are set to carry on.

What is Tabata?

Tabata training was introduced in Japan by Dr. Izumi Tabata. Tabata training only lasts for 4 minutes – however, it can be the longest 4 minutes of your life.

A Tabata workout program involves working out hard for 20 seconds and then resting for 10 seconds. For whatever workout you choose, you are supposed to complete 8 sets or rounds, which may include exercises like burpees, push-ups, and squats.

rope workout in gym

Pros of Tabata Workout

  • Burn fat: Tabata workouts increase your heart rate and get your metabolism going faster. Your body has to maintain that high level of working out in order to burn fat.
  • Your metabolism will be high before and after the workout. This means that your body will continue burning fat even when you’re done. In a Tabata training, your body is in a fat burning zone for the first round and keeps the burning going, hours afterward.
  • Increase in both anaerobic and aerobic fitness: Anaerobic capacity represents the highest level of energy produced by our body when there is no oxygen. Aerobic capacity represents the maximum oxygen uptake. During Tabata training, both will increase.
  • The result will be: more energy, endurance, and a higher degree of muscle resistance.
  • Protects and build body muscle tissue: Since a Tabata workout takes such a short time, you won’t be reducing any muscle tissue as you would in long durations of cardio.
  • This type of training normally puts a lot of stress on muscle tissue instead of helping you build it.
  • Quick exercise: Tabata workouts take a short time, therefore, their fit for those who have a busy schedule. They help you still manage a high-intensity workout in even the most stressful days (which will help with relieving some stress). You can even get it in at home.

Cons of Tabata

  • Not suitable for people with heart problems and high blood pressure: If you have heart problems or high blood pressure, you should ask your doctor about Tabata.
  • Since Tabata is a high-intensity interval training which propels your heart rate up in a short period of time. Consult your doctor if you can perform Tabata to avoid any medical issues.
  • It can cause injuries: Tabata can cause injuries if you are not focused or unsure of form with the exercises. A lack of warm-up or lifting weights in a wrong manner can cause a muscle pull – or worse.

Key Differences

What can we infer when the two workouts are lined up side-by-side?

Duration of Work vs. Rest: Tabata is a: 20 on, followed by a: 10 second rest time. HIIT, however, generally requires work from anywhere between: 30 to 2 minutes, followed by a: 30 to 2-minute rest time.

The difference between a HIIT and Tabata workout is the ratio of work recovery.

Tabata has a 2:1 ratio, HIIT is regularly a 1:1 or 1:2 ratio.

Heart Rate and Intensity: Tabata targets the heart rate, pushing it beyond 100%. HIIT has a somewhat more conventional effect on the heart – normally pushing it to 80-95% of your maximum heart rate.

Total Workout Time: With Tabata, shorter workout time is expected compared to HIIT.

Tabata workouts are usually 4 minutes, while HIIT workouts can be somewhere between 20 to 40 minutes.

Tabata and HIIT Workouts

An example of a Tabata workout is as follows:

  • Start by doing push-ups at a high intensity for 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds and then go back and repeat the same until you have completed 8 sets. Rest for a minute.
  • Next, do bodyweight squats and repeat the same as you did for the push-ups.
  • Follow the squats by doing burpees and then finish your Tabata workout with mountain climbers. Remember, each exercise only takes 4 minutes.

A few examples of HIIT workouts are:

  • The sprint and jog: Sprint for 1 minute and jog for 2 minutes. Repeat the exercises for 10 minutes in total.
  • Jump squat and stretch: Do jump squats as fast as you can (while still maintaining proper form for 1 minute and then stretch or do lunges for 2 minutes. Repeat for 10 minutes.
  • Push-up and stroll: Do as many push-ups as you can for 1 minute and then walk for 2 minutes. Do this for 10 minutes in total.

A Quick Workout

Between Tabata or HIIT training, whichever type of training you choose to incorporate into your daily workout regime, will give you exercises of high intensity with rests in between them, done for a short period of time.

Bottom line: You don‘t need to spend hours exercising – or even buy a gym membership.

Knowing the pros and cons of each type of training is important in deciding which one to follow as well. If you have tried either Tabata or HIIT workout before, please comment below and share your experience with us.

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