How to: The Tabata Protocol

bike for tabata protocolThe tabata protocol is a challenging but effective way to burn a ton of calories and increase your endurance in a short period of time.

We all know the benefits of cardio workouts, but who has the time? If you are strapped for time, and are in decent shape, the tabata protocol is for you. This workout is not suited to beginner exercisers or those with certain medical conditions.*

The Tabata Protocol

It's pretty simple. This workout is best performed on a spin bike or an elliptical trainer. If you really need to, it can be done on a treadmill.

Step 1: Warmup for 5-10 minutes at an easy pace.

Step 2: Perform 8 20-second sprints with 10 seconds of rest in between each one. 

For example: Sprint at minute 5:00 (assuming a 5 minute warmup)

                             Go slow from 5:20-5:30

                             Sprint 5:30-5:50

                             Go slow from 5:50-6:00

Continue until the 9:00 minute mark.

Step 3: Cool down by moving slower for 3-5 minutes. 

That's it!

Tips for the Tabata Protocol

The sprint needs to be 'all out.' You should have nothing left to give at the end of each one!

This means, on a spin bike or elliptical, crank the resistance up, AND go as fast as you can.

You can go as slow as you want and as low resistance as you want during the 10 second "rests" as long as you keep moving.


*If you are over age 50 and have not been cleared by a physician, do not attempt the tabata protocol. Also avoid tabata if you have a heart condition. If you are unsure it's best to avoid tabata.


  • The Tabata Protocol will burn many calories during the workout, but also many more throughout the rest ofd the day. Depending on how hard you work and your body size, the total caloric burn can be a few hundred calories. Not bad for just 4 minutes of really hard work!
  • This protocol is also a good way to do a high intensity workout that will boost your strength AND endurance while being easy on the joints.
  • There is no boredom because it's so hard (and short) that you really don't have the chance to get bored!

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