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The 4 Minute Workout: Tabata

Tabata training is a type of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) that involves performing a particular exercise at a very high intensity for 20 seconds, followed by 10 seconds of rest. This sequence is repeated eight times to equal a training time of four minutes.

While Tabata might be a little challenging for those who are just starting out, it is a highly efficient mode of training that gets great results and is most suited for people who are already moderately fit looking to get a quick yet effective workout.

  • It burns fat. Tabata raises your metabolism (great for morning workouts).
  • It's fast. You gain the same benefits of long drawn out workouts in shorter time.
  • It's versatile. You can do heavy weightlifting or light aerobics or anything in between.
  • It really works. This technique has been researched extensively, and it is becoming popular because people are seeing results.

Touted as “Australia’s Number One Fitness Guy”, who better to talk us through a Tabata workout than former World Ironman Champion Guy Leech? Stopwatches at the ready...

The key to Tabata training is making sure you change it up each session, not only to keep you interested but also to shock the body, which leads to improvement.  In fact, research shows that going harder over a short time period gives benefits over a longer less intense workout.  Having said that, I would certainly recommend supplementing Tabata training with easy longer sessions so you can allow your body to recover and help prevent injury.

Believe it or not, I was first introduced to this style of total body weight timed workouts back in the 1970's when I was a professional athlete. I still use Tabata to this day as it is such an effective form of training and I find it’s a great way to work out for the competitive personality type that wants to be timed and pushed to the limit.

Here are some exercises you can try at home, perform each exercise for 20 seconds, followed by 10 seconds rest and repeated eight times. You can find a handy Tabata timer here.

1. Knee Push Ups


Push Up Push up1












2. Prone Hold

Prone Hold


3. Triceps Dips

Tricep Dips    Tricep Dips

4. Squats

Squat Squats



I love to incorporate Tabata into my routine - it can quickly increase fitness without putting a lot of strain on the body. Normally I alternate between high-knees, burpees and pushups. Don't forget to really use the whole 10 seconds of rest - you're going to need them!




Guy Leach


At 19 Guy won the world’s first ever professional ironman race, and went on to dominate the Iron Man competition for the next decade. In 1994 Guy was crowned by the Australian Institute of Sport as "Australia's Fittest Athlete" and Inside Sport also dubbed him "The Fittest Man on the Planet" the following year. Today, Guy’s mission is to inspire every day Australians to be fitter and healthier.  He has an ever expanding range of health and fitness products including First Step, an online 12 month lifestyle improvement plan, a signature range of fitness gear, paddle boards and kayaks, and his own high pH water.

2015 will see Guy partner up with Arnold Schwarzenegger to lead the world’s largest core class, which will be held at the Arnold Classic EXPO, a multi sport festival held in Melbourne in March.

You can catch up with this amazing guy here or here and join Guy in a world record attempt for the World's Largest Core Class in Melbourne during March!

Sally O'Neil - Editor in Chief

Sal is on a mission to prove that healthy and nutritious doesn’t have to be boring – and that even while staying in shape you can have your cake and eat it too. After losing 14kg from adopting a healthier lifestyle, she shares her journey with others on The Fit Foodie Blog. She also works as a commercial food photographer and stylist, is studying a Bachelor of Health Science in Nutrition and Dietetics, and is the author of two cookbooks: Love Move Eat (Bauer Media, 2017) and Meal Prep Plan (Murdoch, 2019).

  1. I’ve never done tabata for anything BUT cardio… seemed too hard to time it accurately because I need a clock right in front of me to know when the 20 seconds is up. I’ll have to re-think this excuse. Thanks!

  2. I’ve never done tabata for anything BUT cardio… seemed too hard to time it accurately because I need a clock right in front of me to know when the 20 seconds is up. I’ll have to re-think this excuse. Thanks!

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