Yes Tabata does build muscle but not on its own. Building muscles depends on what other exercises you are doing along with Tabata. Because Tabata itself is endurance enhancing protocol meaning a set of exercises used to build stamina. That stamina can then be utilized in weight exercises to build muscles.

For muscles building, you have to take up a program that involves weight lifting. Which basically is not there in any Tabata exercise. If somehow you workaround and put weights into a Tabata exercise, it will do more harm than good because there already is very heavy cardio going on in Tabata exercise and the time to rest in between is very low.

So no chance of building muscles through Tabata training as a standalone workout.

What is Tabata Training?

Tabata is a Japanese training program that was initially designed for athletes to work out quick, build stamina and save time. It is significantly great for improving endurance, metabolism and burning fats.

tabata workouts with weights

8 Examples of Tabata Workouts with Weights

To perform Tabata training using weights, use dumbbells weighing 2-10 pounds depending on your strength and fitness levels. Since one session of Tabata training consists of 8 exercises, the 8 exercises we are going to recommend for a single session of Tabata will be enough to get done with for a day.

You can also perform 1 single exercise 8 times and get done with the day’s session of Tabata training with weights.

Listed below are the 8 examples of Tabata workouts with weights with a video tutorial of each exercise:

1. Squat Curl Press and Stand

First exercise to attempt in Tabata workouts with weights is the squat curl press and stand.

  • start by getting your feet about hips-width distance apart.
  • squat down and bring the weights up in a movement from the shoulder, curling them upwards to touch your biceps.
  • press the weights overhead and, as you come onto your feet, maintain a neutral spine. Only push yourself upright using your glutes and hamstrings.
  • establish control, then lower the weight back to a squat.

Repeat these steps for as many times as possible in 20 seconds, then take a 10 seconds break and move on to the next exercise in Tabata training with weights.

Below is a video of how you can perform squat curl press and stand in Tabata workouts with weights:

2. Dumbbell Rear Lunges

In dumbbell rear lunges:

  • grab a set of weights and stand straight.
  • take one big step back and drop the knee.
  • move back to starting position.
  • repeat the steps above for 20 seconds as quickly as possible.

Below is a video of how you can perform dumbbell rear lunge in Tabata workouts with weights:

3. Squat With Overhead Press

In squad with overhead press:

  • start by grabbing 5 to 10 pounds of dumbbells.
  • bring them up to your shoulder height and stand with your feet with a hip width apart keeping the chest up and core tight.
  • sit back in a squat position until your thighs are nearly parallel to the floor.
  • then press through the heels and push the weights up overhead.
  • repeat the process for 20 seconds in a quick manner.

Below is a video of how you can perform dumbbell squat and overhead press in Tabata workouts with weights:

4. Dumbbell Kickbacks

In dumbbell kickbacks:

  • stand erect with abs tight and scapula retracted.
  • hold a set of dumbbells by your sides.
  • flex forward at your hips.
  • keep the core muscles engaged and maintain a neutral spine.
  • lift your elbows slightly higher than your torso.
  • fix them there moving only at the elbows.
  • extend the forarms back away from you.
  • hold momentarily.
  • flex at the elbows and bring the dumbbells back in.
  • repeat until you reach volitional fatigue in the triceps or until your back needs a break from holding this posture.

Below is a video of how you can perform dumbbell kickbacks in Tabata workouts with weights:

5. Reverse Deep Lunge With Double Arm Row

In this exercise:

  • pick your weights and start by standing straight bracing your core muscles.
  • take a giant step backwards with your left foot and bring the weights in twice.
  • do the same with your right foot backwards.
  • repeat the steps for as many times as possible for 20 seconds.

Below is a video of how you can perform reverse deep lunge with double arm row in Tabata workouts with weights:

6. Hammer Curl With Power Squat

In hammer curl with power squat:

  • pick your dumbbells.
  • take a wide sumo stance.
  • drop all the way down keeping your chest up and weights at front.

Below is a video of how you can perform hammer curl with power squat in Tabata workouts with weights:

7. Dumbbell Push-Up into a Row

For Dumbbell Push-Up into a Row:

  • get down into a pushup position.
  • get your feet a little bit wider than shoulder length to attain stability keeping the core nice and tight.
  • go as down as you can like you usually do in a pushup.
  • push up and row with one hand.
  • go down again.
  • pushup and row with the other hand.
  • repeat the process for 20 seconds.

Below is a video of how you can perform dumbbell push-up into a row in Tabata workouts with weights:

8. Dumbbell High Rows

In dumbbell high rows:

  • get into a Romanian dead lift position.
  • load the hips back.
  • hinge the torso forward.
  • keep the palms back facing towards you.
  • keep the movement with the elbow going out of the way throwing up and behind towards the ceiling.

Below is a video of how you can perform dumbbell high rows in Tabata workouts with weights.

Pros and Cons of Tabata Workouts with Weights

Doing Tabata workouts with weights is an intensive form of exercise that combines Tabata exercises with weightlifting. Generally, Tabata is popular among athletes for its no-equipment requirements and high efficiency.

But with weights, Tabata is still possible and there are several positives to it like:

  • It combines weight training and cardio.
  • You can do it anywhere.
  • Adds more intensity to an already high intensity workout.
  • Even quicker workout leading to lower time commitment.
  • High calorie burn and provides a good cardio workout.
  • Helps in building muscles.

On the contrary side negatives of Tabata with weights include:

  • You need to have equipment available or be willing to purchase so you can complete the program at home.
  • Intensity is way too high in Tabata with weights which can be dangerous for the heart health.
  • Chances of getting injured and hitting fatigue levels are too high

All in all you need to understand your fitness level and heart health before trying anything like Tabata workouts with weights.

Why is Tabata Training not good for building muscles?

People go to the gym for two reasons. Either to build muscles or lose fat, or sometimes even both.

For building muscles it is necessary to stimulate them with heavier enough weights, which is not common or in the Tabata exercises list.

Even if you do Tabata training carrying heavyweights, you won’t be able to keep up because the in-between rest period is too low and fatigue will stop you from reaping two perks at the same time.

Tabata is a specially designed High-Intensity Interval Training Workout program that focuses on fat burning, building endurance and get workouts done quickly.

How is Tabata Training Workout different from other HIIT Programs?

The main difference between Tabata training workout and other HIIT programs is the amount of overall time consumed in working out. A single session of Tabata workout takes only 4 minutes in total which is not fixed in any other form of HIIT exercising.

For people who are busy and are unable to find much time for a workout, Tabata is the solution.

A single set of Tabata workouts consists of 8 exercises, each taking 20 seconds with 10 seconds rest in between and a total of 4 minutes are consumed overall. But one thing guaranteed, in the end, is a racing heart and lots of fats burning even after the workout.

Time is the single most important factor to choose Tabata over the other HIIT training programs.

Is Tabata Good for Runners?

Yes, Tabata is very good for runners. In fact, it was the world of Athletics from where it originated first. Japanese scientist Izumi Tabata came out with the plan of this training program so that athletes can work out quickly and get a lot more time to recover from exercise.

The experiment was very successful on the Japanese athletics team and since then this training program is used in athletics worldwide.

A recent study on Tabata training for running was conducted on the effectiveness of the technique. It has been found that this technique improves aerobic capacity, running economy, and anaerobic power more than moderate-intensity continuous training.

However, it is not advisable to perform Tabata training every day as it can lead to over-training.

Tabata training is an intense form of interval training which is highly effective in improving fitness levels in runners.

Is Tabata dangerous?

Yes Tabata can be dangerous. If the intensity is too high or the work period is too long, this type of workout can be dangerous to your health.

Some people have reported bad side effects from doing Tabata workouts such as dizziness or chest pain due to overexertion or heart issues.

Studies have found that a prolonged exercise session exceeding a person’s maximum exercise capacity may cause problems with the autonomic nervous system.

So yes, Tabata can be dangerous for people who are not fit enough or have heart issues.

For a healthy person with no record of heart disease, Tabata is not a dangerous workout. Also, Tabata is totally fine to practice if you have no breathing problem and you are under 45 years of age. For older people, Tabata can be dangerous.

It will be better for them to stick to low-intensity exercises and try to move around as much as possible.

Checkout these 10 potential disadvantages of Tabata workout.

For people in sports and athletes in general, Tabata training is good because:

  • It improves stamina and endurance.
  • Improves metabolism.
  • Saves time.
  • And there is little or no chance of injury.

In most sports, like Soccer, players play a lot throughout the season. Within a week they have to play a game, travel, rest and train for the next game, and possibly travel again.

Now time is the most important factor. What Tabata offers them is a quick workout and less or no chance of getting injured. Because there is no such thing in Tabata that can injure a player or tear their muscles.

Tabata improves metabolism and endurance, meaning better stamina and more energy to perform your optimal best.

Check out some studies and stats of Tabata training and other Interval Training programs here.

A Tabata workout can burn up to 400 calories in just 8 minutes. There are many benefits from doing Tabata workouts, such as increasing aerobic and anaerobic fitness, improving glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity, burning body fat, and weight loss.

These are only a few perks of Tabata leading to it’s popularity in sports world, you can check out more and detailed benefits of Tabata here.


That’s all in Tabata for muscle growth and Tabata for athletes and runners. We have thoroughly covered Tabata with weights and without weights, and indeed Tabata is good for building muscle.

It saves you a lot of time and stuff but you need to focus on what is good for your heart health and overall physical well being.

Adding weights to an already demanding HIIT like Tabata makes it a very risky workout for people who are not athletes or fit enough, or someone who has heart issues or breathing issues.

So make sure that your fitness is top-notch before trying anything like Tabata for muscle growth or any other fitness goals.

Categories: Fitness

Bilal Ahmed

A random guy on the Internet enthusiastic about Blogging Chess and Football Life motto "make people's lives easier"