Tabata Vs. HIIT: Which Workout Is Better For You?

With Zippia reporting that as of 2022, the fitness industry is valued at $87 billion worldwide, it's no secret that everywhere we look, different options for fitness and exercise are all around.

Everyone is different, and thus everyone is better suited to some sports or fitness regimes than others. But whatever form of it that you may practice, exercise is sure to boost dopamine levels once you start getting your sweat on. Some may find success in joining a gym, and others may prefer staying in the comfort of their own home — both environments have their own pros and cons based on personal preference. 

For those who aren't looking for a more elongated workout like barre or swimming, there are two options that have become buzzworthy over the last several years: Tabata and HIIT (which stands for high-intensity interval training) workouts. Though at their core, they are very similar, it's important to note their differences when deciding which one will best meet your fitness goals. 

Health officials claim Tabata is a more intense version of a HIIT workout

Tabata and HIIT workouts can often be mistaken for one another because of their high intensity and shortness in length, but their differences are very much real.

For one, Cleveland Clinic explains that a Japanese doctor named Izumi Tabata worked with the country's speed skating Olympic team and established the Tabata exercise protocol to emphasize both strength and cardio in his athletes. Ergo, some of the exercises in these workouts may include skater lunges, mountain climbers, burpees, jumping jacks, and more.

In fact, Tabata is a form of HIIT, but Tabata exercises tend to be shorter in length, can be done with no equipment whatsoever, and have a more inflexible routine compared to HIIT. 8Fit also reports that Tabata is often done in sets of four-minute intervals, and has a shorter period of rest — about 10 seconds for every 20 seconds of exercise or so — compared to its sister, HIIT. 

HIIT can be a better option for those who want a flexible routine and longer rest periods

The differences between HIIT and Tabata are small but mighty, and it all depends on what you have the energy and time for. Whereas Shape reports that Tabata is one kind of exceptionally strict HIIT workout, HIIT can look a bit different in its practice.

For instance, 8Fit suggests that an example HIIT workout could consist of a rotation of classic exercise moves like push-ups and jumping jacks with no restricted amount of rest time (unlike Tabata).

Regardless, Shape says that both HIIT and Tabata workouts can help aid in weight loss, as well as in building endurance and muscles. But based on your lifestyle, especially if it's jam-packed and a short workout seems the most appealing to pack the punch, Tabata seems to be the most beneficial (if you can actually keep up with the strenuousness). Additionally, HIIT workouts can extend longer in length and can add in elements such as weight lifting, whereas Tabata may be more bodyweight-based.

Whatever you decide, one thing's for sure — you'll need a sweat towel.