12 Minute Tabata Training Bike Workout

12 Minute Tabata Training Bike Workout

What is Tabata Training?

In the late 90′s, Dr. Inzumi Tabata and his colleagues from the National Institute of Fitness and Sport in Tokyo, Japan set out in search of the ‘ideal’ cardiovascular training protocol.

A training regime that would efficiently increase fat burning, cardiovascular fitness and anaerobic capacity. (Anaerobic capacity, in really simple terms, is the amount you can train before that horrible burning feeling takes over in your muscles – A waste product called Lactic acid)

Tabata compared the effects of moderate intensity exercise and high intensity interval training (HIIT Training).

In the moderate intensity group, seven active young male subjects exercised on stationary bikes for five days a week for six weeks at 70% of their VO2 max (VO2max is the volume of oxygen you can consume while exercising at your maximum capacity.

VO2 max was measured every week during the six-week period and as each subjects VO2 max improved, the exercise intensity was increased to make sure that they pedaled at 70% of their VO2 max.

The HIIT training group consisted of seven active young male subjects who cycled on a stationary bike five days a week for six weeks on the program below.

After a 10 minute warm up, the subjects did seven to eight sets of all-out work bursts (170% VO2 Peak), each lasting 20 seconds, with 10 seconds of rest in between. The pedaling speed was 90 rpm and the sets were terminated when pedaling speed dropped below 85.

The moderate intensity group experienced a significant increase in VO2 max (about 10%) but no increase in anaerobic capacity. On the other hand the HIIT training group experienced a 14% increase in VO2 max (very high for 6 weeks) and 28% increase in anaerobic capacity.

Just goes to show that low intensity cardio is not always the way to go.

Why is the Tabata Training Bike Workouts intensity in Watts? What are Watts?

Watts are different from ‘level’ which is normally used as a measurement of intensity on the exercise bike.

Watts are, and I hope that I explain this clearly enough, a measurement of intensity that keeps you generating a certain amount of power. For example, if you were on 300 Watts and your speed suddenly dropped because you were tired then the bike would automatically increase the resistance to make sure that you are still generating 300 Watts of power. So your overall intensity stays the same on the watts program.(Although Tabata recommends keeping your RPM at 90 throughout your work intervals)

Where as if you are using ‘level’ as your measurement intensity, your cycling speed could drop but the resistance would stay on whatever level you have picked. Therefore because you have lowered your speed, your overall intensity drops. This doesn’t happen with the watts program because it compensates for your loss in speed by automatically increasing resistance.

You may modify this program if you are just starting out by decreasing the watts slightly. 400-450 watts feels like you’re cycling through mud at first but if you increase your cycling speed it will feel lighter.

Start where you feel comfortable … but remember that Tabata kept his subjects cycling at an rpm of 90 during their work intervals in these bike workouts – The exercise was terminated if they fell below 85 rpm

I recommend using the number keypad on the exercise bike to switch between your intervals. This makes the transitions from recovery to intervals faster (and vice versa!).


0 minWarm up75
1Warm up” ”
2Warm up” ”
3Warm up” ”
4 minsWarm up” ”
5-5:20Interval 1400-450
5:30-5:50Interval 2400-450
6-6:20Interval 3400-450
6:30-6:50Interval 4400-450
7-7:20Interval 5400-450
7:30-7:50Interval 6400-450
8-8:20Interval 7400-450
8:30-8:50Interval 8400-450
9-12 minsCool Down50-75


About Jenna Tailor

Jenna Tailor is a serious health fanatic who loves nothing more than sharing her passion for fitness and a healthy lifestyle with anyone who’ll read her articles! She was brought up in a family where healthy meals were the exception rather than the rule. As a result, she’s had close encounters with obesity, and its associated health problems. Enough to set her on a journey in the opposite direction, and inspire a desire to take others on that better health journey with her.