HIIT, Tabata, and Interval Training – What’s the difference?

For years you’ve been hearing about how Interval Training burns more calories than endurance training, which is debatable and a topic for another article, but in this article and associated vlog, what I do want to help you understand are some different terms around the topic of Interval Training, because not only do I hear clients get them confused all the time, I also hear trainers use the terms incorrectly pretty often. The terms I’m referring to are these.

  • Interval Training,
  • HIIT (high intensity interval training) and
  • Tabata

A simple answer is this: Tabata is a form of HIIT Training, and HIIT Training is a form of Interval Training. Let’s see why that is – keep reading.

Interval training is a type of training that involves a series of low to high-intensity workouts, interspersed with rest or recovery periods. The high-intensity periods are typically at or close to anaerobic exercise, while the relief periods involve activity of lower intensity. Varying the intensity of effort exercises the heart muscle, providing a cardiovascular workout, improving aerobic capacity, and permitting the person to exercise for longer and/or at more intense levels.

High-intensity interval training (HIIT), also called high-intensity intermittent exercise (HIIE) or sprint interval training (SIT), is a form of interval training – a cardiovascular exercise strategy alternating short periods of intense anaerobic exercise with less intense recovery periods. HIIT is the concept where one performs a short burst of high-intensity (or max-intensity) exercise, followed by a brief low-intensity activity, repeatedly, until too exhausted to continue. Though there is no universal HIIT session duration, these intense workouts typically last under 30 minutes, with times varying based on a participant’s current fitness level.

So the key difference between Interval and HIIT is that HIIT focuses on maximal burst (extremely intense) working periods, while interval training can involve lower to moderate intensities (even in the working phases), which is why it is just a form of Interval Training.

Tabata training is one of the most popular forms of high-intensity interval training (HIIT). It consists of eight rounds of ultra-high-intensity exercises in a specific 20-seconds-on, 10-seconds-off interval. It may only take four minutes to complete a Tabata circuit, but those four minutes may well push your body to its absolute limit.

The differences between HIIT and Tabata are that rest and work periods in Tabata are shorter compared to HIIT, and Tabata pushes the limit on the percentage of your maximum heart rate.

So now ya know! Click here to see some of Studio SWEAT onDemand’s IntervalHIIT and Tabata Workouts Now!