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Tabata for Kids: Exciting Fitness Activities for PE Classes

If you're looking for a fun and effective way to get your students moving, a Tabata workout is the perfect solution! Tabata is a high-intensity interval training program that can be incorporated into any physical education class. It is a great way to get students of all fitness levels moving and sweating. Since Tabata can be done with any type of exercise and little equipment is needed, it can easily fit into your curriculum while being tailored to your student's needs and interests.

Kids Tabata Workouts in Physical Education

In this blog post, I will explore what Tabata is and examine the benefits of using it in a PE class. I will lead you through some methods for completing Tabata, as well as provide ideas on how to make it more enjoyable and effective. I'll also provide an example Tabata fitness workout visual and explain how to make it work for you and your students. Let's get started!


What is TABATA, and how can it be used in physical education classes?

The Tabata training method was developed by Dr. Izumi Tabata, and it was inspired by traditional interval training methods used by athletes. The goal of Tabata is to improve both aerobic and anaerobic endurance. To do this, the Tabata method alternates between 20 seconds of intense activity followed by 10 seconds of rest. The theory behind the Tabata method is that the short bursts of intensity will help to improve both aerobic and anaerobic endurance more effectively than traditional methods of training.

Additionally, the 10-second rest periods help to ensure that the body does not become overworked or fatigued during the exercise. Tabata is a unique and highly effective way to get students up and moving during physical education classes. It's also a smart strategy to encourage students to push themselves since they know there'll always be a rest period on the horizon.

What is TABATA, and how can it be used in physical education classes?

Why is TABATA a powerful fitness activity for PE students?

TABATA is a powerful fitness activity for physical education students because it is a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) exercise. HIIT is a type of exercise that alternates between short periods of intense activity and brief periods of rest. Studies have shown that HIIT can be more effective than traditional forms of exercise for improving cardiovascular health, burning fat, and increasing muscle endurance.

The intensity of the intervals forces the muscles to work harder than they would during traditional aerobic-type activities, leading to greater gains in strength and power. What makes TABATA particularly powerful is that it can be adapted to any fitness level, as the intensity can be increased or decreased based on the individual's needs. Overall, TABATA is a great way for students to get a full-body workout. This type of exercise can ultimately help improve our kid's fitness levels and overall health.

One of the greatest attributes of incorporating Tabata workouts is that they can be done anywhere, with very little equipment necessary. This is especially useful for P.E. classes, where space and time are often limited.


Tabata fitness can be a fun and engaging way for physical education teachers to help their students meet SHAPE America's Standard 3, which states: The physically literate individual demonstrates the knowledge and skills to achieve and maintain a health-enhancing level of physical activity and fitness*.

Physical Activity and Fitness- SHAPE America Standard 3 Visual

What are some ways to implement a TABATA workout for kids in your PE lessons?

You can use Tabata in a variety of ways to enhance your physical education lessons. The key to a successful TABATA workout is to keep the intensity fairly high and the rest periods short. For PE teachers, this means planning activities that will get students' heart rates up and their muscles pumping.

One way to do this is to set up stations around the gym or outdoor playground and have students rotate through them. Another option is to choose some exercises and write them on a whiteboard or poster board. You could also project them up on a digital screen. The students rotate through the listed movements and perform them for 20 seconds, followed by 10 seconds of rest.

TABATA in PE Classes

Kids Tabata workouts are relatively short, so they can be easily incorporated into a lesson without disrupting the flow of the class. With a little creativity, TABATA workouts can be a fun and effective way to help your students meet their fitness goals.


Tips for making TABATA successful for you and your students

There are a few simple things you can do to make your AMRAP more fun and engaging for students.

  1. Make sure that your students are properly warmed up before beginning the Tabata. A short jog or some dynamic stretches are perfect for this

  2. Explain the Tabata format to your students. Each "round" of the Tabata consists of 20 seconds of all-out effort, followed by 10 seconds of rest. This is repeated 6 to 8 times for a total of 3 to 4 minutes.

  3. Use developmentally appropriate bodyweight exercises and movements. Examples of these types of movements include push-ups, mountain climbers, standing squats, burpees, arm circles, curl-ups, jumping jacks, wall sits, jogging in place, etc.

  4. Play upbeat and motivating music. Listen ahead of time so that you know the music is safe to play at school.

  5. Keep an eye on your students and offer encouragement throughout the workout. And when the 3 or 4 minutes are up, be sure to give everyone a high-five - they've just completed a Tabata!

Tabata can also be a great brain-boosting activity for classroom teachers to use during recess or transitional times of the day. It can help students focus and perform better in the classroom by providing them with an active physical outlet.

Sample Tabata for Kids PE Workout

Tabata works great as a warm-up activity at the beginning of a physical education lesson. Fitness activities seem to work better at the beginning of a class when students have the most energy and are ready to "let loose." It can however also be used as a stand-alone lesson if you have shorter length classes or you serve middle and high school students. Just make sure you provide frequent water breaks in between Tabata segments.

The following is a Tabata visual that outlines six different exercises and specifies the work period (move) and resting increments.

Tabata Workout Visual for PE


  • First, write some fitness exercises such as jumping jacks, straight jumps, and wall-sits on a whiteboard or poster paper. Include rep counts on the signs (I have included some Tabata visuals in the freebie at the end of the article to help get you started)

  • Use gym walls or place cones with Tabata signs/posters attached to them in select places in your gym

Activity Movement

  • As students enter the learning area, instruct them to find a workout poster and begin performing the 6 suggested exercises according to the TABATA Timer (20-sec MOVE, 10-sec REST).

  • Students do another workout once each TABATA is completed

  • Use a TABATA app timer or a stopwatch and music for movement and rest times

Tabata Pro App


In Summary

A Tabata workout for kids is a great way to add an intense and fun activity to your physical education lesson. It can be used as a warm-up or stand-alone activity and can be adapted to any fitness level. Tabata is a great way to get students active and engaged in their PE classes. Be sure to keep an eye on them and offer encouragement throughout the workout. And when the Tabata workout is finished, give everyone some solid praise to celebrate their accomplishment! Give Tabata a try in your next PE class and see how your students respond! Tabata is sure to be a hit!

What are your thoughts on Tabata? Have you tried it in your physical education classes? Let me know in the comments below!

And don't forget to grab the free fitness activity packet that includes some Tabata workouts in it at the end of the article. Until next time, keep moving and stay healthy!

*SHAPE America. (2013). National Standards for K-12 Physical Education. Reston, VA: Author


Need Resources?

Do you need some Fitness Activities that can help you keep your students active and engaged? Would it help to have easy-to-implement visuals that include detailed instructions and state-of-the-art graphics? Cap'n Pete's Power PE has you covered!

Cap'n Pete's Fitness Fun: PE Activity Packet

Fill in the form below to download a FREE PE Fitness Fun Activity Packet with 10 fun and active fitness visuals with a variety of fitness-based concepts and movements to use in your physical education classes.

Cap’n Pete’s Fitness Fun PE Activity Packet provides 10 different visuals from 5 different activity sets. This valuable resource includes 2 workout visuals from each of the following resources: 1. AMRAP Workout Visuals (As Many Rounds as Possible), 2. TABATA Workout Visuals, 3. PE Boot Camp Fitness Blasts, 4. Fidget Spinner Spin Boards. And 5. Dice Fitness Task Cards. These fitness-based activities can be used as a warm-up or for a dedicated physical education fitness lesson. It can also be utilized by a classroom teacher for a brain boost during a scheduled break or during recess.


If you are looking for more TABATA workout visuals to add to your physical education arsenal, check out Cap'n Pete's PE Activity Set: TABATA (High Intensity Interval Training)

12 Visuals and Incentive Tickets.

You can download them from either of the following platforms: Cap'n Pete's Power PE Website or Teachers Pay Teachers- Cap'n Pete's TPT Store

This valuable resource is made up of 12 distinct color-coded TABATA (High Intensity Interval Training) workout visuals that provide an energetic, timed movement experience for the students to participate in. The TABATA visuals can be applied in a number of different ways within a PE lesson or as a great warm-up activity. Classroom teachers can use the TABATA workout visuals as a Brain Boosting activity during those critical times of the day!

Cap'n Pete Signoff Pic and Signature



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