Tabata vs. HIIT: Which One is a Better Workout?

While Tabata and HIIT workouts have many similarities as they’re both high-intensity workouts, they actually are quite different. Yes, they’re both great for when you’re short on time or looking to switch up your training. They both require max-level effort to build strength, endurance, and power, but they differ on time to complete the workouts. Here are some of the differences between the workouts to help you choose which one is better for reaching your goals.


HIIT can describe any workout that involves alternating between intervals of maximal effort and recovery. During the effort periods, you should be working really hard and then resting during the recovery periods before going hard again. In regards to the exercises, you can tailor them to your goals with moves like skaters, pushups, mountain climbers, and burpees.

For HIIT workouts, they are usually a bit longer than Tabata and you can adjust the work-to-rest ration depending on your fitness level. In regards to the effort level, you should be pushing yourself to about an eight out of ten during the effort periods.


Tabata happens to be a type of HIIT workout that’s four minutes long and consists of 20 seconds of all-out work followed by 10 seconds of recovery, repeated eight times. Like HIIT, you can select exercises to meet your goals like tuck jumps, jump squats, burpees, mountain climbers, or pushups.

For Tabata, your effort level should be a bit higher than a HIIT workout, at about a nine out of ten. This makes Tabata a more challenging workout.

Which is Better?

Tabata may be tougher in the moment, but it’s not necessarily better than HIIT. With both workouts you’ll be pushing your body to maximal effort, increasing your metabolism, and burning calories. But if you’re in a time crunch, Tabata is more efficient because it can be completed in four minutes.