The Difference Between HIIT and Tabata Plus Others

“I am new to kettlebell workouts for about a month now. Most of what I do has been HIIT or Tabata style. Can you help me understand the difference in outcomes between the various styles?”

The Difference Between HIIT and Tabata

Both forms of training are a form of interval training, meaning you do something and then rest or perform a less intense exercise for a period of time. Tabata is really misunderstood and was really intended for something else than it is now commonly used and referred to. Anything that is 20 seconds on and 10 seconds off is now commonly referred to as Tabata and even different intervals. The original was intended as just 8 rounds of 20/10 and at a super intense level.

HIIT stands for High-Intensity Interval Training and is a mixture of high-intensity and low-intensity bouts of work. Interval training in general aims to raise the heart rate high and then lower it. HIIT workouts can be much longer than Tabata (which was originally 4 minutes).

Tabata is short sets of work, 20 seconds, so the intensity needs to be high, for it to be high one needs to work with exercises that can be performed at a fast pace and continuously for the full 20 seconds. This is all about increasing cardiovasuclar endurance.

HIIT also helps improve cardiovascular endurance but can also help with strength as the bouts of high-intensity work are not set in stone.


What is EMOM?

EMOM which stands for Every Minute On the Minute is another form of interval training. High-intensity work and then rest. The aim is to design a task that takes up just enough of the minute to require the subject to work at an intense pace so that there is more time to rest. For example, if the task takes too long to complete then it can mean that the task can’t be completed within a minute and there is no rest, this would be a bad design. The aim of EMOM is also to raise the heart rate and then allow for it to lower slightly.


What is Interval Training?

Interval training is where a set of intervals is cycled through over a period of time. Those intervals can be high-intensity and rest, high-intensity and low-intensity; high-intensity, low-intensity, and rest, etc. The intervals can be 20 seconds, 30 seconds, 60 seconds, or any time frame for that matter. In general, interval training is to improve cardiovascular endurance, and also some strength.


What is Cardiovascular Endurance?

Cardiovascular endurance is a measure of how long you can last while performing exercises at a moderate to high intensity for an extended period of time. The heart, lungs, and muscles are trained to work together for extended periods of time. The stronger these become, the easier it is to exercise for long durations.


Strength Training

With focussed strength training the training is quite different compared to interval training. Sure, you can also perform strength focussed exercises in intervals, but if you would follow a kettlebell strength program for example, then you would be doing 1RM, or reps between 2 and 5, or even 8 in hybrid programs. If you would do a set of exercises and then rest, in a way, that is also interval training as it’s work and rest, work and rest but not in the conventional form of interval training.


There is a whole lot more to each of the above topics which you can read about in How to Program for Kettlebell Training.



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