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Tabata Training for Kids

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Formulated in 1996 by a Japanese coach Izumi Tabata this form of fitness training involves high intensity interval training workouts.  Commonly known as HIIT.  

The interval training workouts last for 4 minutes and are broken up as 20 seconds of hard work following by 10 seconds of rest repeated 8 times.

 8 x 30 seconds equals 4 minutes.

tabata training for kids

The original study proved that bursts of high intensity interval training with short rests showed a much increased rated of improvement in athletes aerobic (with oxygen) and anaerobic (without oxygen) energy systems.

Athletes using tabata training were found to have increased speed and endurance in sporting performance.

Warning - Tabata training for kids is very hard.  When coaching kids you as coach will need to be at your motivational best to help the athletes push themselves.

The easy way to organise a tabata session or any interval training is to use a interval timer. I have used the basic stopwatch but I often find myself missing the intervals while I'm yelling support for the athletes. Having a Gymboss Interval Timer and Stopwatch makes the session easy. The timer beeps at the end of both work and rest intervals. I just blast on the Whistle when the beeps sound. And of course continue yelling support!

Tabata Training for kids is very effective for the following reasons:

  • it is completed in 4 minutes
  • it can be done multiple times (many sets) when adequate rest is allocated
  • the coach can use any number of different combinations in the activities selected for the 20 second work interval
  • the activity does not require large amounts of equipment or space
  • is an excellent tool to use body weight strength exercises
  • numerous different sports and activities will benefit from this form of training


The most traditional way of doing a tabata training for kids session is to have the children run.  The 4 minutes is broken into 20 seconds of maximum running effort followed by 10 seconds of walking repeated 8 times.  





The key to kids tabata training is to ensure that the 20 seconds of work is done as a maximum effort.  Sub maximal effort will not see the full benefits of this training technique. 

Sports coaches need to remember that high intensity interval training workouts aren't always appropriate for beginning athletes. When introducing the tabata training protocol sports coaches may wish to allow the athletes to work at a reduced effort during the 20 second period.

Tabata training for kids, like high intensity interval training workouts need to be carefully planned into the weekly training program.  Depending on the sport or activity, 3 to 4 sessions of tabata training per week could be planned once sports coaches are satisfied athletes have a sufficient fitness level to benefit fully from tabata.

Sport coaches should always ensure junior athletes have participated in a vigorous warm up before a kids tabata session is attempted.

Kids tabata training can be used in so many ways.  Coaching kids sports requires sports coaches to be creative.  Tabata training allows coaching creativity to flourish.  Swimming tabata, football, basketball, hockey, water polo dribbling tabata, the list is endless...........


CLICK HERE to see some sample kids tabata training.


See how I personally use GYMBOSS to make coaching kids sport and my own personal fitness training easy.

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