HIIT vs. Tabata: Which one is better for you?

When you're in the gym, you want to be getting the best results from your efforts and time. With so many different workouts growing in popularity it can be difficult to know where to begin. Two that are so similar they are easy to confuse are HIIT and Tabata; unusual names but a lot of common ground.

The truth is, if you're doing Tabata then you're doing a type of HIIT. That's because HIIT stands for high-intensity interval training and Tabata is simply one style of this. HIIT is the overarching term for any workout that alternates between specified periods of hard work and rest, with one being longer than the other, according to Shape. The work intervals can be limited by time or repetitions and you should be pushing yourself to about 80 percent of your maximum ability (via Women's Health). Any workout can be done in a HIIT format, whether weights, cardio, or a combination.

Tabata, on the other hand, is a very specific form of HIIT in which you perform eight rounds of a particular exercise for 20 seconds, broken up by rest periods of 10 seconds (via Healthline). A typical Tabata workout will run for 20 minutes, and you want to work yourself just a bit harder than with other HIIT, up to about 90 percent of your capability.

Good in a time crunch

Peleton instructor Olivia Amato, CPT, told Women's Health that both workouts are going to offer a wide range of benefits. "They're both great to add into your workout routine to switch things up and improve both strength and endurance," she said. "Since both workouts force you to try to push your body out of your comfort zone and you're working at 80 to 100 percent of your all-out max, you will increase your metabolism, burn calories, and see results."

With a HIIT workout, you have the option to vary the interval lengths. If you want to work longer – say run for one minute on a treadmill, followed by 30 seconds of rest – you can. Tabata is a great option to have when you're in a hurry and can't devote much time to a workout. Because it's designed to push the body to its limit for a short amount of time you may feel like you've worked out much longer than you have.

Either workout is going to offer significant benefits, depending on your available time, and goals for the day.