Tabata vs HIIT: What’s the Difference?
With so many choices in fitness strategy, considering your options can be overwhelming.
There’s yoga, which is all about mindfulness, balance, and challenging the core. It’s a discipline rooted in patience. Yoga means ‘union’ in Sanskrit, the ancient language upon which yoga was built on thousands of years ago. Its long history gives it a sense of something ethereal.
Then you’ve got strength training, which may evoke images of strongmen, but is an incredible tool that we can use to support all of our bodily functions and daily activities.
If you’re aiming to get your heart rate up, cardio workout options like running surely stand out, but there’s a world of discussion within it.
Then there are sub-disciplines within each of these. In yoga, you have Hatha, Ashtanga, Kundalini, and beyond. There are functional, bodyweight, and Olympic forms of strength training. That wide world of cardio ranges from short walks to full marathons. Some exercises even combine them, which leads us to today’s topic: HIIT (high-intensity interval training) and Tabata.
If you’ve heard of one of these, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of both. If that’s the case, we’re sure you’ve wondered, “Tabata vs. HIIT—which is better?” and we’ve got you covered.
Keep reading to learn more about these fitness buzzwords and where they fit the bigger picture of your health.
What is HIIT Training?
HIIT is an abbreviation for high-intensity interval training.
It’s a method of working out that can be applied to almost any exercise you can think of. You can do a high-intensity strength workout or a high-intensity sprinting workout. Think of HIIT as a framework for exercises with a few major branches to choose from.
High intensity refers to the level of work required—it’s intense. It causes your heart rate to spike and your muscles to work at or close to their max, pushing your body to its limits. That’s what makes it so effective.
The origins of HIIT are contentious; some trace it back to the early 20th century, in which a young runner ran for 30 minutes once a week, alternating between walking and sprinting. There are so many types of HIIT exercise workouts that developed throughout the rest of the 20th century that most records point to respective pasts for each.
Today, you probably see it all the time in local gyms, which brings us to our next subject, Tabata.
What is Tabata?
As you might have guessed by now, Tabata is a form of HIIT.
Tabata was invented by a Ritsumeikan University Professor named Izumi Tabata. Tabata worked with the national speed skating team in the early ’90s and developed a study to confirm that high-intensity interval training was, in fact, the most effective method of training their athletes. The study effectively confirmed that HIIT works both aerobic and anaerobic fitness and that it was incredibly efficient and effective in improving performance.
After conducting a study that would confirm his theory that HIIT was the best way to train athletes, Professor Tabata invented the Tabata workout method, consisting of 8 rounds of 20 seconds of work at 100% effort, followed by 10 seconds of rest for a total of 4 minutes.
Like any other HIIT workout, the Tabata method can be applied to almost any movement—be it push-ups, weighted squats, or traditional sprints.
Why Should I Try HIIT/ Tabata Training?
Any form of high-intensity interval training comes with some significant benefits, including:
Improved Cognitive Performance
Studies like this have shown that quick bursts of physical activity as prescribed in HIIT workouts lead to better cognitive functioning.
Effective Fat Reduction
Studies suggest that HIIT workouts may be far more effective at reducing subcutaneous fat than regular aerobic exercise.
Doing HIIT workouts for as little as two weeks has been found to increase training power outputs.
Improved Cardiovascular Fitness
VO2 Max, a rate of oxygen consumption that is used as an endurance performance metric across the health and fitness world, can be improved better with HIIT workouts than with actual endurance workouts.
Lowering Insulin Resistance
It is posited that HIIT supports metabolic health by way of lowering insulin resistance in the body.
With all of these benefits, it’s easy to gravitate toward HIIT and its many branches. HIIT, especially the Tabata method, is the perfect way to up your game at the gym and push your body to its limits. Consult your doctor before giving high-intensity workouts a shot, give them your all, and have a blast!