Tabata vs HIIT: Which Burns More Fat?

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Ever since Tabata-style training came to the scene back in the 1990’s, there’s been the question of how it differs from HIIT. You may have found yourself wondering which one you should be doing. Is one better than the other? In this post, we’re going to explain and compare, Tabata vs HIIT so that you can get a better understanding!

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Tabata vs HIIT

These two styles of training stem from the same branch. Both Tabata and HIIT are forms of interval training. Interval training is a form of cardiovascular exercise that aims to raise and lower your heart rate repeatedly, in order to boost your metabolism.

Tabata and HIIT also increase EPOC which stands for Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption. EPOC allows us to keep burning calories for up to 2 hours after exercise. This means that you’ll burn more calories overall while improving your heart and lung health. These training styles have both been found to be more beneficial than steady-state cardio. These are the similarities, so what are the differences?

Tabata: The Breakdown

This style of training was designed to be highly-effective and time-efficient. Developed by Dr. Izumi Tabata, this form of exercise was created to take just 4 minutes! You may be wondering, “How on earth can I make progress in only 4 minutes?” Well, don’t let that short duration fool you. Those 4 minutes will be 4 of the most intense minutes of your life! Okay, maybe not the most intense, but pretty darn exhausting!

The 4-minute Tabata workout consists of 8 rounds of 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off. Each round of 20 seconds should be the highest intensity possible (100% effort). It is meant to push your body to the absolute limit. You should be physically exhausted after 4 minutes. The longest amount of time that a proper Tabata workout should take is 8 minutes.

The goal here is to increase your VO2 max. To put it simply, your VO2 max is the highest amount of oxygen that your body can utilize during exercise. This is how we measure cardiovascular fitness. Elite endurance athletes typically have a very high VO2 Max. We’re going to come back to this in a few.

Tabata training differs from HIIT in the fact that it utilizes shorter rest and work periods at a higher intensity, for less time overall. With that being said, let’s go over HIIT.

HIIT: The Breakdown

HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training. “Sounds like Tabata to me.” Not quite. Tabata training is specifically designed to take 4 minutes. HIIT can be performed for 15 to 30 minutes. The difference doesn’t stop there.

HIIT is actually lower in intensity than Tabata and uses longer recovery periods. For instance, you would perform higher intensity exercise (80-90% of your max) for up to 45 seconds, spending around 2 minutes in the recovery phase (40-50% intensity). It is crucial that you don’t skimp on the recovery. Take the 2 minutes to recover so that you can give the right amount of effort come the next working period.

The Verdict

Okay, so while it seems that Tabata may have a leg up on HIIT, that’s actually not the case. Tabata has never been scientifically proven to provide greater fat loss than HIIT. They are both highly effective at burning fat. Tabata is a higher intensity, for a shorter amount of time. HIIT is a slightly lower intensity for a longer amount of time. They balance each other out.

As we previously mentioned, Tabata does increase VO2 max more than traditional HIIT. This doesn’t add to greater fat burn, but it will improve any of the other exercises that we can perform due to greater cardiovascular fitness.

It is imperative that whichever you choose, you perform it routinely for two, three, or even four times per week. It comes down to a matter of preference and what you have time for. If you like higher intensity exercise or are short on time, consider trying Tabata out. If you want to take it a bit easier or have a little more time, give HIIT a shot.

What’s your preference, Tabata or HIIT? Let us know in the comments, below! If you’ve never tried either one, try our Tabata and/or HIIT workout!

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