The Tabata regimen was the first high intensity interval training method to be supported by research. In 1996, Dr. Izumi Tabata found that elite athletes who followed this regime experienced gains in aerobic capacity equivalent to athletes who performed medium intensity exercise for much longer periods. These athletes also experienced anaerobic gains that the athletes who used steady-state training did not achieve.
The Tabata regimen consists of eight 20 second intervals of high intensity work separated by ten seconds rest, for a total of four minutes. Do at least five or ten minutes of moderate warmup exercise before starting the Tabata workout. Many different exercises are suitable for Tabata: running; stationary bicycle, elliptical, or rowing machine; bodyweight exercises like push-ups or squats; even weighted exercises like bench presses or thrusters.
If you are using weights, select a weight much lighter than you’d use for lifting. You need to be able to lift it continuously for those eight 20-second intervals.
It’s OK to pace yourself when you are first beginning Tabata training, but your ultimate goal is to go all out for all eight of the work intervals.