Thursday, 2 September 2010

Tabata Protocol Intervals

Some of you have been asking me about Tabata intervals so I thought I'd post some information and a workout for you to try.

Tabata Protocol Intervals consist of 20 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeated for a total of 8 rounds or 4 minutes. Each 20 seconds should be at maximum intensity - no pacing allowed! This can be done for a variety of different exercises in in a few different ways. Examples below.

Why do it?

Short duration work like this will develop the ability to perform repeated maximal efforts - just like an mma fight. Although the round is 4 minutes long you won't be working consistently and sometimes that's a good thing. Typically athletes will pace a longer duration session and this detracts from the maximal effect of the training. Although this is strict Tabata Protocol you could adjust it to ten 20:10 second intervals to make it more fight specific.

Try this

Perform the following exercises in Tabata style (20:10). Complete each all 8 rounds of each exercise before moving on to the next. There is no rest between exercises apart from the 10 seconds at the end of the previous round.

Squats (bodyweight only)
Press Ups
Thruster (front squat into push press)


Perform the maximum number of repetitions in each 20 second period and try to maintain this number. Your final score for each exercise is the lowest number of repetitions you complete at any one time. This type of scoring will encourage you to improve your anaerobic power endurance.

The following scores would be considered 'Good'.

Squats (bodyweight only)   20
Press Ups   15
Swings 24kg Kettlebell/Dumbbell   12
Thruster 40 kg Barbell (front squat into push press)   12
Burpees 12

Train hard!


  1. I've noticed that when scoring using lowest number some people will game it. As an alternate scoring method use total reps.

  2. Hi Matt,

    Thanks for the comment, I can certainly appreciate that. I think either method can be used successfully and both will generally produce a different variable to be tested. I should have put in big letters NO PACING ALLOWED! The disadvantage of total reps is of course that there is less incentive to push for a target in each subsequent round.

    Thanks for raising a good point.