Is It A HITT Or Tabata Workout, And Which One Is Better?

Is A HITT By Any Other Name Still A HIIT?
Let’s Call It A Tabata And Mix Things Up.

It’s hard to get and keep people motivated in the world of fitness.  As workout trends come and go there’s always something new to try to keep us on top of our game.  I’m a big fan of interval training and  HIIT workouts.  I’m really fascinated by the Tabata concept and the idea of spending less time to get more done.  But, where does the HIIT workout end and the Tabata begin?

Here’s the basic design of both workouts.


A jump rope is an excellent tool for HIIT and Tabata workouts.

A HITT Workout is based on a warm-up followed by six to ten repetitions of high intensity exercise, followed by medium intensity exercised, followed by a cool down.  Most HIIT programs follow a pattern of 30 – 40 seconds of high intensity exercise followed by a period of 15 – 20 seconds lower intensity.  Do six cycles for a total of at least 15, but no more than, 20 minutes.  Maximum heart rate during the high intensity segments should be between 70% and 90%.


The Tabata follows a different breakdown of high to low intensity and takes the Hiit workout up a notch.  A typical Tabata workout calls for a warm up followed by 20 seconds of ultra-intense exercise with a 10 second rest period.  During the rest period you are resting.  Repeat the cycle seven or eight times for a total of about 10 minutes (including a warm up and cool down). Maximum heart rate should be between 90 and 100% during the 20 second bursts.  In other words, you’re going full out!

The primary difference is that the HIIT workout is a 20 minute session of medium to high intensity exercise; the Tabata is a 10 minutes session of super intense exercises.  For people that are new to exercise the HIIT workout would be too much, and in my opinion, unsfe and the Tabata isn’t an option at all.

For people that are already fit, both workouts offer an option for getting the job done if you don’t have a lot of time. I wrote a post about the benefits of interval training awhile back. You can read more about it here.

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, interval training burns more calories than longer steady-state cardio workouts.  Endurance athletes such as long distant runners, swimmers, and bikers can increase their speed by alternating interval workouts with steady state.  HIIT and Tabata shouldn’t be used as a total replacement for longer, lower intensity workouts.  Overdoing the HIIT and Tabata workouts can lead to injury.

Getting Started

Cathe Friedrich’s new CrossFire DVD – which you will have a chance to win next month – incorporates both HITT and Tabata segments in the workout.  It’s a high impact program that uses plyometric air jacks and squat jumps and running drills.  There are no steps to learn and if you’re looking for a way to take what you’re doing now up a notch, this would be a good option.

Amy Dixon has a Breathless Body DVD that is a true Tabata workout and all of the drills are shown at three different levels.  Breathless Body 2 is a HITT workout with longer intervals and duration.

There are plenty of free Tabata workouts on YouTube and, as always, I’ve reviewed several of them and have picked my favorite from FitFabCities which I’ve shared below.

A warm up and cool down – though not included in this clip – is recommended.

Over To You

So what do you think? Where do you go to find the best Tabata workouts or do you create your own?


  1. Honestly, I’ve never heard for those type of exercises, but they look like some serious workout. I think if you want to lose weight or if you want to keep your energy high through the day those exercises would do a great job. Really interesting post! Thanks for sharing!
    Rangel recently posted..Apple Cider Vinegar and Weight LossMy Profile