AMT Tabatas: 4 Minutes to Fitness

Personal Training

AMT Tabatas: 4 Minutes to Fitness


What are Tabatas?

Though the terms HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) and Tabata are often used interchangeably, Tabatas are actually a popular form of HIIT training. Trainers and group exercise instructors alike are integrating Tabatas into exercisers workouts to expedite fitness gains in a limited amount of time.

Tabatas came out of a 1996 study published by Izumi Tabata that evaluated the effect of high-intensity interval training on anaerobic capacity and endurance improvements. This research was based on an idea pioneered by a Japanese Olympic speed skating coach that found that athletes could burn 135 calories with just 4 minutes of exercise. However, despite their calorie burning  benefits, Tabatas are very intense and were designed primarily for performance. As a general rule, an exerciser’s rate of perceived exertion is high with Tabatas, while the heart rate may be a little lower.

Tabatas are structured four minute sets that alternate 20 seconds of work with 10 seconds of recovery. If performing more than one Tabata with your clients, it is critical that your clients undergo a full recovery period prior to initiating the next Tabata.

Why use the AMT for Tabatas?
Tabatas require rapid transitions from work to rest. The AMT is unique in that it allows on the fly movement changes in a non-impact, joint friendly environment. This is viable alternative for those looking to avoid plyometric or higher impact activities, or for clients that prefer to train in the cardio area. The AMT also allows exercisers to target the larger muscle groups of the lower body.
Tips for Success

When performing Tabatas on the AMT, structure sets so that the rest and work sequences rely on similar movement patterns to facilitate rapid transitions. While it is extremely simple to transition from a step to a full stride while performing an aerobic workout, the horizontal resistance on the machine limits the speed at which you can make this transition. As such, avoid designing AMT Tabatas that rely on vastly different movements.

Building Tabata Sets

There are as many ways to build Tabata sets on the AMT as there are unique movement pathways on the equipment. However, best fit Tabata training positions include movements that:

  • Clearly target a specific muscle or muscle groups
  • Have a clear work and rest movement pattern or steps per minute target
  • Are intuitive enough for exercisers to easily transition in and out of
Integrating Tabatas Into a Client’s Workout Plan

Tabatas should be integrated into a client’s training plan based on his/her physical ability and unique training objectives. Tabatas can be used as four minute training bursts within a client’s overall workout plan, or you can build out exclusive Tabata workouts. Those new to this type of training should gradually integrate Tabata intervals over time, whereas more seasoned exercisers with a higher fitness baseline may be able to participate in a more lengthy Tabata training sequence. To get the most out of Tabatas, exercisers will need to give full effort during the work periods of each set, so it is better to construct fewer sets that are completed well rather than having the exerciser give partial effort across a larger number of sets. Adequate recovery time between sets and training days is also critical to maximize the effectiveness of Tabata workouts. When performing the workout on the reverse of this document, remember that  these settings are recommendations and you can adjust training intensity by modifying your client’s training position,  movement path, resistance or Open Stride setting.

4 Minutes to Fitness: AMT Tabata Workout

  • 35 minute workout
  • Includes three 4-minute Tabatas
  • Each interval within a Tabata incorporates 20 seconds work followed by 10 seconds rest
  • A three minute rest period follows each 4-minute Tabata
  • Increase intensity by varying speed within an interval

Tabata Workout

Tabata Positions


1. TABATA, ET AL. Effects of moderate-intensity endurance and high-intensity intermittent training on anaerobic capacity and VO2max. Med Sci Sports Exerc 28 (10): 1327-30, 1996. 

2. VOGEL, AMANDA. Extreme Fitness: How Intense Is Too Intense?. IDEA Fitness Journal, February 2014.

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Author Information

Erica Tillinghast
Erica Tillinghast's picture

Erica Tillinghast is the Global Education Manager for Precor. Over the last 15 years Erica has worked as a personal trainer, group fitness instructor, performing artist, product developer, and master coach.  Erica specializes in fitness product education, business development, network building and curriculum design. She travels globally as an educator, coach, and industry presenter, and has authored and contributed to more than 20 continuing education courses adopted on six continents. She holds an MS in Exercise Science and Health Promotion, and is a certified Personal Trainer, 3D MAPS, and an NASM Group Personal Training Specialist.

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