How To Use A Tabata Workout To Get Fit In 4 Minutes

Certified Personal Trainer By Krista Stryker, NSCA-CPT
Certified Personal Trainer
Krista Stryker, NSCA-CPT is the author of The 12-Minute Athlete: Get Fitter, Faster, and Stronger Using HIIT and Your Bodyweight and a leading expert on HIIT and bodyweight fitness. She lives in Venice, California, and is a certified personal trainer through the National Strength and Conditioning Association.

Tabatas are one of my favorite types of workouts of all time.

They’re short, incredibly effective, and incredibly hard if you do them right — everything that makes up a good workout. And best of all, they only take four minutes to complete!

So what are they? Tabata training is a style of interval training developed by Dr. Izumi Tabata at the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo, Japan.

He conducted tests on two groups of athletes, comparing moderate intensity training (such as long-distance running) to high-intensity interval training (like sprinting).

The results were amazing — not only did the athletes doing high-intensity interval training increase their overall aerobic and anaerobic capacity, their VO2 max, resting metabolic rate, it also helped them burn more fat — resulting in a leaner physique much more quickly than their moderate intensity training counterparts.

How to do Tabata workouts:

Tabata workouts require you to go all out for 20 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds. You’ll repeat this cycle eight times to complete the workout.

You’ll need an interval timer to effectively do a Tabata, since no one can accurately count to 20 seconds when they’re working that hard.

And trust me on this one — if you think that you can do four minutes of exercise in your sleep, you’re underestimating how hard Tabata workouts really are (if you do them right, that is). Tabata workouts will leave you breathless, but they’re worth every second of the pain.

Tabata workouts you can do at home

Ready to get started? Here are three awesome tabata workouts you can do at home, outside or at a gym:

1. Sprinting

This is the classic Tabata workout, and the one most people think of when they think of Tabatas.

To do it, just find an open space and set your timer for 8 rounds of 10 and 20 seconds. Then sprint as fast as you can during the 20 second intervals and walk slowly or rest completely during the 10 second intervals.

2. High knees with jump rope

Grab a jump rope and get your heart pumping with this awesome tabata workout you can do anywhere.

To do it, set your timer for 8 rounds of 10 and 20 seconds, jumping rope as fast as humanly possible during the 20 second intervals and resting during the 10 second intervals.

3. Alternate between burpees and mountain climbers

This one’s extra fun: you’ll be doing two different exercises, and switching each interval.

You’ll start by doing 20 seconds of burpees, rest, then do 20 seconds of mountain climbers. Continue until you’ve completed all eight rounds.

Get creative with your tabatas—you can do them with any type of bodyweight exercise or traditional cardio activity. Just remember that to make them effective, you have to work as hard as you can!

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