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Tabata Interval Exercise: Energy Expenditure
and Post-Exercise Responses
Michele Olson, PhD, FACSM
Scharff-Olson Kinesiology Lab, Auburn University Montgomery, Montgomery, AL
This presentation was funded by the Department of Exercise Science Auburn University at Montgomery
The subjects were 15 physically active women (n = 12) and men (n
= 3) with a mean age, 24.9 yr. After receiving a detailed explanation
of the investigation, the study participants were screened for health
history and provided informed consent as prescribed by the
American College of Sports Medicine and the Institutional Review
Board for Human Subject Research at Auburn University
Montgomery. During the experimental trials, the subjects reported
to the exercise laboratory and were measured for height and
weight. Height was measured to the nearest 0.5 cm and weight to
the nearest 0.01 kg.
All of the subjects were instructed on the squat jump Tabata
protocol and allowed to practice in the days preceding the trails
when oxygen consumption was measured. A Parvomedics True-
One open-circuit spirometry gas analysis system was used to
determined oxygen uptake and the respiratory exchange ratio
(RER). The gas analyzers were calibrated prior to each test with
gases verified by gas chromatography.
The oxygen uptake protocol was comprised of three stages:
Pre-exercise VO2 was measured for 30 minutes while the subjects
rested in a supine position on an athletic training table. Subjects
then completed a Tabata bout executing 8 cycles of body-weight
squat jumps with maximal (all-out) effort while being measured
continuously for VO2. Following exercise, the subjects’ VO2 was
further recorded as (per the pre-exercise conditions) for 30 minutes.
Means were calculated for each of the descriptive variables (see Table 1).
Time-ordered VO2 responses were compared with an ANOVA (p. 0.05) to
detect any differences between pre, exercise, and post-exercise values. In
addition, kilo-calorie expenditure was determined via a 5 kcal.min-1
equivalent for every 1 L of O2 consumed and is further reported based on a
standardized body weight of 70 kg.
Table 1. Descriptive Characteristics of Subjects (mean)
Variable 15 Subjects
Age (yr) 24.9
Height (cm) 168.2
Weight (kg) 67.3
Table 2. Time-Ordered VO2 Values (mean)*
Pre-Exercise VO2 3.7 ml.kg-1.min-1
Tabata VO2 38.4 ml.kg-1.min-1
Peak Tabata VO2 48.2 ml.kg-1.min-1
Post-Exercise VO2 10 min. 12.5 ml.kg-1.min-1
Post-Exercise VO2 20 min.
Post-Exercise VO2 30 min.
*All VO2 values significantly greater
than pre-exercise VO2 (p. 0.05)
PURPOSE: Tabata training, named for its developer Dr. Izumi Tabata
who studied this form of conditioning at the National Institute of Fitness
and Sports in Tokyo, involves a movement or modality such as squat
jumps, stair running or cycling done for 20 seconds at max effort with
10 seconds rest for 8 total cycles. The Tabata researches found that
this protocol produced significant improves in VO2 max following a
period of training. However, no published data are available regarding
the energy cost of the Tabata method. The purpose of this study was to
measure the energy cost of a Tabata protocol and determine the
energy expenditure following a Tabata bout.
METHODS: 15 participants, 12 women and 3 men (mean age, 24.9 yr)
who were physically active or involved in university athletics
participated in the study and provided informed consent. The study
protocol was as follows: Pre-exercise VO2 was measured for 30
minutes (Parvomedics metabolic system) while the subjects rested in a
supine position on an athletic training table. Subjects then completed a
Tabata bout executing 8 cycles of body-weight squat jumps with max
effort while being measured continuously for VO2. Following exercise,
the subjects’ VO2 was further recorded as per the pre-exercise
RESULTS: Mean pre-exercise VO2 was 3.7 ml.kg.-1.min-1. For the
Tabata bout VO2 was 38.4 ml.kg.-1.min-1 with an average peak VO2 of
48.2 ml.kg.-1.min-1 during various 20 second max effort periods. Mean
peak RER recovery values were 1.54. At 10, 20 and 30 minutes post-
exercise, mean VO2 was 12.5, 6.4 and 4.1 ml.kg.-1.min-1, respectively.
All time-ordered post-exercise VO2 values were significantly higher
than pre-exercise (ANOVA, p. 0.05). Using the 5 kcal.min-1 equivalent
for every 1 L of O2 consumed, kcal cost for the Tabata protocol was
13.4 kcal.-1min-1 (standardized to 70 kg wt). Additionally, the kcal
expenditure incurred 30 minutes post exercise was double that for the
30 minute pre-exercise period: 80.5 kcals versus 39 kcals, respectively.
CONCLUSIONS: This data shows that a bout of Tabata exercise using
body-weight squat jumps produced a marked VO2 equivalent to 11.0
METs and a VO2 that had not fallen to pre-exercise 30 minutes post
exercise. Thus, the intensity of Tabata’s appears viable as an interval
Various forms of interval training, sometimes referred to as high
intensity interval training or HIIT, have become increasingly popular
in both athletic conditioning and mainstream fitness arenas.
Traditional HIIT protocols are generally comprised of “Effort” and
“Recovery” ratios such as 1:3 where 15 seconds of all-out
supramaximal exercise effort is followed by a recovery or rest interval
three times the length of the effort period such as 45 seconds.
Common HIIT modalities, particularly in athletic conditioning include
running and sprinting, cycle ergometry and plyometrics.
In contrast, Dr. Izumi Tabata from the National Institute of Fitness
and Sports in Tokyo, studied an “Effort-Recovery” protocol using
cycle ergometers comprised of 20 seconds supramaximal effort (i.e.
170% of VO2max) followed by 10 seconds of recovery. This form of
interval training was found to elicit significant improvements in
VO2max which were comparable to substantially longer training
durations of steady-state sub-maximal exercise.
However, little is know about the energy cost of Tabata interval
training including post-exercise oxygen uptake responses.
Therefore, the purpose of this study was to measure the energy cost
of the Tabata format using body weight squat jumps at an al-out
effort and to also measure post exercise oxygen uptake responses
for comparison to resting oxygen uptake.
Parvomedics Metabolic Cart – Pre Exercise Oxygen Consumption
The results of this study show that a bout of Tabata exercise using
body-weight squat jumps produced a marked VO2 equivalent to
11.0 METs, a mean kcal expenditure of 53.6, and a VO2 that had
not fallen to pre-exercise 30 minutes post exercise. Thus, the
intensity of a Tabata interval exercise bout using squat jumps
appears viable as an interval training method.
Future research aimed at determining the energy cost of a Tabata
protocol with additional exercise modalities such as sprinting or
other plyometric maneuvers may also prove valuable.
In addition, the time period required for oxygen uptake to reach pre-
exercise levels following Tabata interval training has yet to be
All study participants completed the data collection trials successfully with no
adverse events. The mean energy cost values ranged from 3.7 ml.kg-1.min-1
during the 30 minute pre-exercise period to peak value of 48.2 ml.kg-1.min-1
during the Tabata protocol (see Table 2). At 30 minutes post exercise, the mean
VO2 was 4.1 ml.kg-1.min-1 which was (still) significantly higher than the pre-
exercise VO2. The mean peak RER value measured during the early post-
exercise period was 1.54.
Table 3 shows the caloric expenditure values. The mean per-minute energy cost
was notably high at 13.4 .kcal-1.min-1. Thus, the total energy cost of the 4-
minute “Tabata” bout was approximately 54 kcals. Further, the total energy
expended during the 30 minute recovery was twice that of the energy expended
during the 30 minute pre-exercise period yielding a gross energy cost of 134.1
Tabata I, Nishimura K, Kouzaki M, et al. (1996). "Effects of
moderate-intensity endurance and high-intensity intermittent
training on anaerobic capacity and VO2max". Med Sci Sports
Exerc 28 (10): 1327–30.
Body Weight “TABATA” Squat Jumps
Table 3. Kilocalorie Expenditure (mean)*
Pre-Exercise – 30 minutes 39.0 kcal-1
Tabata Exercise – per minute 13.4 kcal-1.min-1
Post-Exercise – 30 minutes
*Note. Total energy expenditure
accumulated during post-exercise
period was double pre-exercise period
Note. The research published by Nishimura Tabata was
conducted with speed skaters who performed supramaximal
bouts of the 20 sec:10 sec interval protocol (with 8 repeats)
using cycle ergometers.