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What are Tabata intervals?


Key learnings:

  • How to perform Tabata intervals?
  • Can you lose weight with the Tabata protocol?
  • Benefits of Tabata, High-Intensity Interval Training.

There are many types of workout styles that you have probably heard of over the years and they all help you reach your fitness goals.

You may want to increase strength, lose weight, improve flexibility, or build muscle. Whatever your goals, most exercise programs can help you reach them as long as you stick to your plan.

If you are looking for a new workout to add to your routine, you may try Tabata intervals. Tabata in cycling is a High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workout that consists of four minutes.

What is Tabata training in Cycling?


Tabata training was invented when Japanese scientist Izumi Tabata and his colleagues compared the results of moderate-intensity training and HIIT. The study evaluated two groups of speed-skating athletes. The first group trained on moderate-intensity ergonomic cycles for one hour, five days per week, for a total of six weeks. The second team completed a four-minute, high-intensity workout in the ergonomic cycle four days per week for a total of six weeks. 

Bondi says, “Tabata has been in various permutations for many years. This is the best way to burn oxygen in the shortest possible time such as sprinting for 20 seconds, then resting for 10 seconds and repeating that 10 times.” 

Tabata can be implemented in all types of workouts. You may do Tabata running or cycling. However, it’s pleasantly executed with physical activities that can help you boom the intensity quickly and properly. Tabata cycling is only a 4-minute effort, but you should almost fall off your bike at the end

How often should you do Tabata cycling?


How often you should do Tabata cycling depends on your fitness level and fitness goals.

It was designed with high-performance athletes in mind and is probably not suitable for your average person who is simply trying to stay fit and healthy.

You certainly don’t want to go from easy physical activity to real Tabata workouts because you can overtrain yourself. Also, you will definitely want to exercise at this intensity a maximum of 3 times per week, if you are in very good condition.

Example Tabata cycling workout


If you are interested in following the HIIT trend, it is possible to try the original Tabata protocol at home on a standard bike. 

If you’re not an elite cyclist, you can’t go anywhere close to the intensity of the original study, but you’ll have a hard time finishing Tabata intervals.

As seen in the world of cycling, the ability to ride extremely hard for short periods of time often plays an important role in determining the outcome of a race.

In the Tabata interval workout, there are 3 sets of 8 x 20 seconds @ 170%-180% FTP, 10 seconds easy, with 10 minutes rest between the sets. 

For this, you have to try for 4 minutes. You have to be mentally ready to finish the last 6th, 7th, and 8th interval of each set. Even after 10 seconds of rest, your heart rate continues to rise and it stays high for about one minute after the set is completed. The average power of all 20-second intervals should be about 170-180% of FTP.


170%-180% of FTP might be difficult but you can do it. If your first attempt is significantly more than the last, then you are tired. If you start from 170% of FTP and you become as stiff as possible and then fail to hit two consecutive Tabata sets at 170%, then you have reached fatigue. So at this point, you stop, and finish at zone 1 or 2 and take some rest. 

• Start with easy 10 min warm-up
• 3 x 1 min – cadence 120

• 15 min active ride – 65%-75% of FTP

• 8 x 20s – 175% of FTP with 10s easy between
• 10 min active ride – 65%-75% of FTP
• 8 x 20s – 175% of FTP with 10s easy between
• 10 min active ride – 65%-75% of FTP
• 8 x 20s – 175% of FTP with 10s easy between

• 15 min active ride – 65%-75% of FTP
• 10 min easy

Is Tabata cycling good for weight loss?


Yeah, Tabata cycling is a good choice for maintaining or losing weight.

Tabata is an effective exercise that can allow your body to burn calories even after you finish your workout, what we call the afterburn effect. It does this through a process known as post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) which can burn your calories for 16-24 hours after exercise. Since you are burning calories more efficiently, these can be great for helping you lose weight when combined with a healthy diet.

What are Tabata interval’s benefits?


If you want to improve your anaerobic ability and work on it, as well as the speed of recovery, a Tabata interval is essential to take your cycling to the next level. However, most people are not working at the near 100% effort during the work phase of the interval. In order for Tabata to be most effective, you should be working max effort or at least 170%-180% of your FTP.

The biggest benefit is not during the intervals themselves but the post-exercise.

Six weeks of training using the IE1 protocol, which was later named Tabata training, was found to increase the maximal accumulated oxygen deficit (MAOD) by 28.0 ± 19.4% and the VO2 Max by 15.0 ± 4.7%.

Other benefits:

  • It increases metabolism
  • Time-saving
  • Increases aerobic and anaerobic fitness levels
  • Increases lean muscle mass



Achieve short-term fitness results through one of the most well-known HIIT workouts, the Tabata Protocol. Add this classic HIIT workout to your weekly schedule for a significant cardiovascular boost! HIIT, or High-Intensity Interval Training, is a technique where you put in all the effort through fast, intense exercise, followed by a brief burst of rest.

Will you try Tabata intervals? Let me know in the comments!


Coach Damian

Damian is a head coach and founder of Cyklopedia, which was created with one goal to help everyone be faster cyclists by structured training plans, healthy recipes, and nutrition plans. Damian is racing and coaching for over 10 years, working with athletes all around the world.


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