Chances are, if you are into fitness, you have heard of Tabata. It’s growing more and popular as an effective method to burn calories and fat, and increase endurance and explosiveness.

What is it?

Tabata is a protocol, not an exercise, and is named after a Japanese researcher named Izumi Tabata. In its purest form, Tabata prescribes a 5 minute warm-up, followed by 8 sets of 20 second, all-out, full intensity, balls-to-the-wall intervals with 10 seconds of rest between intervals, then a 2 minute cool down all on a spin bike. (For a more detailed history and breakdown of Tabata read this.) Today, there are so many variations of Tabata training out there. I remember when I was first introduced to the method, we were trying it out as a way to train for the Tough Mudder. The session consisted of 4 bodyweight exercises like air squats, sit ups, push-ups, and planks. I’m pretty sure none of us were aware at the time that we were supposed to go all out during the intervals, so it was a good workout, but nowhere near as intense as it should have been. In fact, Tabata was so underwhelming, I haven’t done it since. 


Jim Stoppani, PhD

That is, until I saw an article on from Dr. Jim Stoppani introducing yet another way to use the Tabata protocol…with weights. I was immediately intrigued. About half of the workout uses weights–very light weights– and the other half is made up of more traditional Tabata exercises. 

Dr. Jim’s Tabata Weight Blast

Dr. Jim suggests you follow his Tabata protocol for about 3 – 6 weeks before going back to your normal type of training and is meant to help you bust through those annoying plateaus we all experience. It consists of 5 different training days targeting 2 muscle groups per day with the weightlifting portion and full body in the Tabata portion. Each exercise is done for 8 sets of 20 seconds, during which you perform as many reps as you can. You rest for a measly 10 seconds between each 20-second interval. Once you complete 8 sets, you rest for a minute or two, then move on to the next exercise. 


If the time thing seems annoying, you’re right, it is a bit daunting to have to constantly watch a clock so you know when to start and stop. Guess what though….there’s an app for that! Of course, there is, right? Try the GymBoss app. It’s free and has a Tabata timer (among others) already built into it. 

HELPFUL TIP: when you search for the App, be sure and leave out the space between "gym" and "boss".

HELPFUL TIP: when you search for the App, be sure and leave out the space between “gym” and “boss”.

The Weights

Start light. Seriously. Don’t be a hero on your first try. If you’ve already started doing the math in your head, you have figured out that you can do quite a few reps in 20 seconds. I would say you could (at the very least) get 10 reps of any weightlifting exercise completed in 20 seconds. Repeat that 8 times and you have 80 reps. That’s 80 reps with a stupid-short amount of rest. Go light. Your goal should be to work your way up a pound or two each week. 

Get Started

You can view the full (original) program here or here, where you will get a more in-depth explanation of the program and some links to nutrition suggestions. If you’re ready to get started right away, here is a handy-dandy one-sheeter for you to print out or display on your tablet or smartphone. Please note that this is my personal, modified version of the Dr. Jim’s protocol. I left out exercises like barbell shrugs, anything related to developing my forearms, and anything involving a piece of equipment I do not have access to.  So….enjoy! And GOOD LUCK!




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