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Tabata vs HIIT vs Bootcamp: Which One is Better?

Updated: Dec 14, 2021

HIIT, Tabata, or Bootcamp? Aren’t they all the same thing? Is one more complicated? Which one is better for those looking to start a workout routine? Fitscope totally gets the confusion, and before breaking each one down into what it is or isn’t, let’s start by saying that all three will torch fat and build a long and lean body. Read on to learn more about HIIT, Tabata and Bootcamp workouts, what makes them different from one another and what exactly they entail before committing to a new workout regime.


HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) consists of users working out through timed intervals, with most usually working out for 30 seconds followed by a roughly 2 minute rest period (also called the 1:4 ratio). For example, someone beginning to use an exercise bike might increase their speed to 20 mph for 30 seconds followed by a more leisurely 10 mph ride for a two minute rest period.

HIIT users will gauge their workouts in two ways: by perceived exertion or by monitoring their heart rate. Perceived exertion requires no equipment; instead, users judge how hard they feel they are working out on a 1-10 scale, with one being sedentary and 10 being the hardest they can physically move. Most users aim to hang around the 5 mark during the rest periods and a 7-8 during the HIIT interval. Those who use a heart rate monitor will find their maximum heart rate and aim to perform somewhere between 80-90% of their maximum during the interval periods. Regardless of how someone chooses to measure their exertion in a HIIT workout, both provide an intense workout experience.

Due to the intensity of HIIT workouts, many will find they can reach exhaustion in a much shorter amount of time while still receiving the same results as a more traditional workout method. A proper HIIT workout will facilitate the user receiving the same results in usually about half the time. Because of this, HIIT workouts typically don’t last more than 30 minutes for most individuals.

Most HIIT workouts are total body workouts, meaning users workout all of their major muscle groups when completing them; however, many choose to use the system to focus on either cardio or strength training with elements of the unused method to get the best results quickly. Those looking to complete strength training will commonly choose body weight bearing exercises like push-ups, burpees and squats while common cardio workouts include using the treadmill, elliptical, rowing machine or power walking. Regardless of which method one chooses, they’re guaranteed to get in the best shape of their lives when using the HIIT method to lose weight.

Finally, due to the variety of the routine as well as the intensity, HIIT is considered an excellent workout method for both beginners and older adults looking to get into shape. Because users are going off of their exertion levels, HIIT workouts are great for those who need a low-impact workout that’s going to contribute to them getting in shape. Those who complete HIIT workouts can expect to see things like stronger muscles, improved cardio, increased weight loss, reduced body fat (with a special emphasis on abdominal fat) as well as more stamina in both their workouts and their everyday lives.


Before going into exactly what Tabata is, it’s important to know the history of the method that’s quickly rising in popularity. In 1996, Dr. Izumi Tabata, a Japanese scientist, founded the method after studying athletes looking to improve their fitness levels. He discovered that workouts to improve both the aerobic and anaerobic system didn’t need to be long; instead, they needed to be intense. Using this information, he carefully crafted a workout method that revolved around rounds.

Each Tabata round is 4 minutes long and broken down into eight 30 second sets. Each set is broken down further into 20 second high-intensity intervals followed by 10 seconds of rest. Most people will complete 20 minutes of Tabata, or 5 rounds composed of 40 mini sets. While this may not seem like an adequate amount of time to get a fat burning workout, trust when we say that it’s more than capable of kicking anyone’s butt into gear to get fitter, leaner and healthier than ever.

Technically, Tabata’s method is a type of HIIT workout; however, the 2:1 ratio can make it much more intense than the standard 1:4 ratio commonly seen in most HIIT workouts. The main issue with Tabata workouts is that they can easily lead to injury as users attempt to push themselves beyond their limits, so listening to the body is key when deciding how much exertion to apply. Many find they actually prefer to save their energy to remain consistent throughout the workout while others will go that maximum they possibly can, potentially slowing down with each round.

Regardless of how someone chooses to follow Tabata, they can expect to lose weight and get in shape quicker than most other workout methods. In fact, Tabata has been shown to not only help users drop fat but also to help users build up their endurance levels to better complete their days.

The main drawback of Tapata is the fact that its intensity can sometimes be a drawback. Many people who use this method find they easily burn out due to every workout session being intense. While this may work better for some people, many can find themselves becoming unmotivated or not enjoying their workouts due to the system being less enjoyable than others Fitscope has discussed.

Finally, just like the HIIT workouts, tabata workouts can be completed for strength training or cardio, with many preferring to incorporate both into their workout regime. A combined workout program may consist of something like power walking for 4 minutes, squats for 4 minutes, push-ups for 4 minutes and burpees for 4 minutes. Regardless of how one chooses to use the method, they can nearly guarantee results that look and feel almost immediate.


Bootcamp has become a bit of a catchall, first seeing popularity in the 90s with an assortment of exercise videos and classes all proclaiming they were “bootcamp” workouts. These workouts really weren’t associated with anything most would consider connected to the military, with most focusing on a singular workout method to get the blood pumping. Today, bootcamp workouts are slightly different, harkening back to the military days as more and more trainers look to incorporate military bootcamp staples like jumping jacks, push ups and high-intensity aerobic exercises into their classes, videos or sessions for a workout that truly can feel like a bootcamp.

Unlike HIIT or Tabata workouts, bootcamp style workouts are not interval dependent, although they’re usually high-intensity and share some of the same exercises. Instead, they rely on users completing a set of exercises at an intense pace throughout the entire workout (which can be difficult when many workouts hover between 45-60 minutes). They also do not require the user to try to target a specific heart rate percentage nor do they say that each exercise needs to last a certain amount of time (meaning users can usually stop earlier or go a little longer). This doesn’t mean bootcamp classes or videos can’t be fun or energizing; it really just means that the atmosphere is different.

Finally, many bootcamp workouts are completed in a classroom setting. While there are bootcamp videos users can complete, many find that the classroom setting provides the ideal experience as multiple people workout with one another to finish the workout. This can create a sense of comradery as well as help those who need a little outside motivation.

So… What’s the Difference?

In short, HIIT, Tabata and bootcamp workouts have a lot of similarities with one another, especially when it comes to intensity and carrying up the exercise; however, bootcamp workouts are more flexible than HIIT and Tabata workouts which both provide the structure many beginners need to actually stick to a workout program for the long term.

Those who need a lower intensity program can find resources for all three methods to help them save their joints; however, the HIIT and Tabata methods are usually the most flexible when it comes to allowing users the ability to incorporate lower intensity exercise machinery (ellipticals, rowing machines).

Finally, those who need the most intense workouts should look to incorporate Tabata into their regime. The 20 minute workout burns an insane amount of calories, but it also should be utilized by those who are a little more experienced with fitness.

HIIT, Tabata and bootcamps all provide excellent full-body workouts for those looking to lose weight and get fit as quickly as possible without spending hours on a machine. Want to vary your exercise routine and start working out as soon as possible? Fitscope offers online studio classes for HIIT workouts, ellipticals, rowing machines, air bikes and treadmills to allow people to vary their workouts while obtaining maximum benefits. Click here to learn more and receive a free one-week trial.

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