If you’re looking for a way to mix up your home workouts, Tabata is a terrific option. A form of HIIT, Tabata is comprised of 20-second intervals of rigorous exercises, followed by short, 10-second breaks. This pattern is repeated 8 times, for a total of 4 minutes, which makes up one Tabata block. The protocol was developed by Professor Izumi Tabata, who conducted research using these intervals with Olympic athletes in Japan in 1996.
While Tabata’s initial study only had subjects working out for four minutes, today’s regimens typically are longer. What’s great about Tabata is that it blasts calories, burns fat, improves stamina and boosts metabolism. The key is to make sure you work at a very high intensity during the 20-second blocks. It should be challenging and, let’s face it, somewhat uncomfortable.
Tabata sessions are typically simple so you can do them at home with or without equipment, choosing all cardio or combining cardio and strength exercises. If you’re really working hard, you only need 15-30 minutes, which makes this style of HIIT very efficient and effective. We’ve created some cardio Tabata sessions to get you started. If you’re not sure how to do a particular exercise, Google it for a quick demo.
Always warm up first for 3-5 minutes with step-touches, marching in place, knee lifts, hamstring curls, squats, side lunges and easy twists. The workout below can be approximately 20-30 minutes, depending on how many sets you complete. Five blocks constitute 20 minutes, and 7 blocks is 28 minutes, plus your warm-up and cool down time.
Use a free Tabata timer app on your phone to track interval time. Perform each exercise for 20 seconds, with 10 seconds of rest in between. You can drink water, towel off, march in place or just simply rest during the 10-second intervals. Do all four exercises, then repeat the block for a total of 4 minutes. Modify and eliminate the jumping on exercises if necessary, or substitute your own movements. Try not to rest between blocks, or just grab a quick drink and get back to work, keeping an eye on your timer throughout your session. Good luck!
- Heel digs in front – with or without jumping
- Speed skaters
- Jump front to back (feet together)
- Alternating curtsy lunge
- Shuffle right 3x, shoot basket; repeat left
- Jump squats
- Side-to-side wide taps, reaching arms overhead
- Knee lifts wide to side, arms pulling down from overhead
- Machine gun (football) run
- Jump scissor lunge
- Twists with arms overhead (feet together)
- Jumping jacks
- Jump rope (no rope necessary)
- Single-leg hops (4 on right, 4 on left, repeat)
- Moguls (narrow squats with rotation right-left, and arms pumping back)
- Step right, kick left, tap back right
- Butt kickers (jump hamstring curls)
- Cross country skis
- Plank jacks
- Push-ups (on knees or toes)
- High knee run (or march without jumping)
- Rear lunge right, pop up right knee (complete on left when you repeat round)
- Mountain climbers
- Side lunge right with right knee lift and left elbow cross (complete on left when you repeat round)
- Squat jacks
- Heisman runs
- Side-to-side leg swings
You made it! Be sure to cool down for 3-5 minutes after your Tabata session with some easy, slow marches, heel digs and side toe taps, followed static stretches for your major muscle groups, including hamstrings, quads, calves, lower back, chest, upper back, shoulders and core. Finish with several deep breaths and water to stay hydrated. Going forward, it’s easy to make up your own Tabata blocks to vary your workouts.