Tabata Protocol for Strength Training Programs

The Tabata protocol for strength training programs is pretty easy to integrate. This page deals specifically with the Tabata protocol for those who want to lose fat and tone up. Please read the rest of this page if that describes you.

The Tabata protocol is very easy to explain. The Tabata Protocol was created by Dr. Izumi Tabata at the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo, Japan. Dr. Izumi discovered that high intensity aerobic training done for four minutes burns just as much fat as moderate aerobic workouts done for forty five minutes.

His exact findings were that a ratio of 2:1 (high intensity to medium intensity) done for 8 cycles is more effective in fat loss than a steady-state cardio routine done at medium intensity. The exact time for the Tabata protocol is 20 seconds to 10 seconds. If you do the math real fast you can see that 8 cycles only takes about 4 minutes.

There are some general guidelines that I would like to go over as we talk about the Tabata protocol for strength training programs specifically. I do not want to give the impression that 4 minutes of varying intensity cardio is all you need to be fit.

Quite the contrary. I recommend varying cardio intensity and session lengths each week. I am not convinced that this single method is the be-all and end-all of fat loss. Here are a few things I recommend to you if you are interested in the Tabata protocol for strength training programs.

    1. Start out slow. If you cannot do a 2:1 (20 to 10 second) ratio of high to medium intensity then start somewhere better suited for you level. Try doing 20 seconds to 1 minute. Or try doing 20 seconds to 2 minutes. Find your level of fitness and work from there. Keep the 20 seconds of high intensity constant. Adjust the recovery or the medium intensity factor.
    2. I would not perform the Tabata protocol for strength training routine more than 2 times per week. I still think it is vital to work at low intensity, longer cardio sessions and medium length and medium intensity cardio sessions.
    3. The Tabata protocol for strength training works best when done AFTER your strength training routine. You are already warmed up and you had fresh muscles to do the strength training. Weights first. Then cardio. The only time this is not the case is when you are training for cardio endurance.

There are some people who swear this cardio method is superior to all others. But for every study I see pro-Tabata, I see one that proves another method works just as well. I want to keep things simple. There is no need to make fitness or fat loss a complicated issue.

The Tabata protocol for strength training programs is the same as it would be for bodybuilding programs or for endurance programs. It’s a 20 second to 10 second (high to medium) intensity program done for 8 cycles (about 4 minutes).

I want to make one more point about why I do not solely recommend the Tabata protocol for strength training programs as your ONLY source of cardio. Cardio is meant to work the heart and lungs. 4 minutes of the Tabata protocol will not help much there. Nor does it address the need for endurance training. What happens when you want to take a great vacation, but cannot walk more than a mile or so without getting tired and winded?

This is why varying your cardio intensity level and session length is so vital to overall health. The Tabata protocol for strength training may address one issue in health- fat loss- but it does not address endurance or stamina.


  1. Tom says

    Really you think a guy or girl who can do 4 minutes of sprints tabata style will get winnded from a one mile walk while on vacation??? That is litterally the dumbest thing I have ever read!!!

    • says

      Hi, Tom.

      Thanks for your comment… I think you missed the point of what I was trying to say which is…

      Just focusing on 4 minutes of cardio isn’t going to help with real-life situations. I don’t think this one method is the end-all-be-all program.

      • John says

        i agree completely with your article, i thought tabata training sounded great, almost too great, which is why i spent the last hour searching for an article like this in which someone finally said it’s not the end all be all workout. four minutes is only four minutes

        • says

          Sure thing, John. It’s fun and something different and I would use it to spice things up… just not as my all-the-time routine for the type of goals I have.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *