Tabata Training: 12 Workouts
for Burning Fat and Building Strength

Tabata Timer

If you are looking for a quick and intense exercise, or the perfect metabolic finisher to give your day at the gym, the Tabata training will do that job. The Japanese scientist Dr. Izumi Tabata created the Tabata protocol, which consists of only 4 minutes of interval training and has been shown to improve physical condition and endurance.

Best of all, these workouts are exciting, challenging and intense. You will not have time to get bored or lose concentration. Although the training is short, of the 4 minutes that it lasts, it is worked at full intensity for a total of 2:40 minutes and it rests entirely during only 1:20 minutes, for a work-rest ratio of 2: 1.

Why Tabata Training?

The Tabata was initially developed to increase the performance capacity of Olympic speed skaters. Within a study conducted on their results, participants performed Tabata exercises for 4 days and steady-state cardio exercises for 1 day. At the end of a 6-week training period, participants experienced a 28% increase in their anaerobic capacity and, at the same time, improved their VO 2 max.

The study showed that focusing on one exercise during the entire 4-minute Tabata training is the most effective way to train both aerobic and anaerobic energy pathways.

This training method could be the perfect means to combine strict aerobic exercises (steady state cardio) and anaerobic training (strength lifting, HIIT, and plyometric training).

Read more: Does Running Help You Lose Fat and Stay Lean?

What To Expect From Tabata Training

The Tabata training shown below requires mental concentration, since you will be pushing the lactic acid and oxygen deprivation to the limit while performing each repetition with perfect form.

Wait to be challenged. Here you will not do any mattress or abdominal routine, or static exercises. Prepare for plyometric exercises, career intervals, and full body movements.

And be prepared for the intensity, because the exercises of higher intensity are the fundamental element of Tabata. This does not mean that you will use more weights, or you will wear a weight vest, but you will perform basic full body exercises at the perfect speed possible. Therefore, coordination and power are two key elements to execute the Tabata correctly.

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Instructions for Tabata Training

There are two ways to focus a Tabata training:

  1. Choose 1 exercise for all Tabata intervals appropriate for the level of your physical condition, or that is specific to your general fitness goals, and complete the 8 sets.

For example, the Olympic speed skaters would perform the speed skating exercise because it is the most specific sport and will help them develop the power in their buttocks while increasing their endurance.

With this approach, using the exercises I have for you then, you have 12 Tabata exercises that you could carry out.

  1. Choose 2 or more exercises to create a challenging whole body circuit. For example, you can select 4 exercises (such as jump rope, skating jumps, tricks, and burpees) and complete 2 sets. With this approach in mind, you will have endless effective exercises to create.

Read more: 16 Easy Exercises To Lose Belly Fat

12 Tabata Exercises: Burn Fat and Build Strength

1. Ergonomic rowing (or stationary bike)

Instructions: Sit with your feet securely attached to the grip strips, holding the handlebar by the handle. Bend your knees and lean slightly forward, reaching the anchor point of the chain. Then, push your legs while you pull your arms towards your chest, leaning back somewhat while your legs straighten. Find a gentle rhythm between bending the knees and straightening the arms, and then pushing the legs while pulling the handlebars.

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2. Jump rope

Instructions: holding the ends of the rope in each hand, start with the rope behind you. With the chest erect and the trunk tight, swing the rope upwards and then jump with both feet so that the rope goes under. Land on the tips of your feet with your knees relaxed to cushion the impact. Find a gentle rhythm, swinging the string above and jumping on it. Ideally, you will only need a jump to untangle and give the rope a trajectory. If you are a rookie in the jump rope, you can use a double jump.

3. Side boats with therapeutic ball

Instructions: Choose a therapeutic ball weight or medicine ball that is a challenge, but that allows you to perform the exercise correctly. Stand with your feet spread a little beyond your shoulders, holding the medicine ball in your chest. Draw a circle with the ball up and to the right and turn your feet and hips to look to the left as you hit the ball against the ground in front of your left foot. Catch the ball, make a circle to the left and up, turning the feet and hips to look to the right while you boot the ball in front of the right foot. Keep catching, spinning and bouncing the ball on the floor from side to side at a continuous rate.

Read more: 7 Interval Workouts That Burn Fat Quickly

4. Speed skating

Instructions: start in an athletic stance, with your feet apart beyond your hips, your knees slightly bent, your hips back and your chest high. Cross the right leg behind the left and then lower the left leg to jump laterally to the right. Land on your right leg, letting your left leg cross naturally behind. Keep jumping sideways from side to side, swinging your arms like a speed skater.

5. TRX squat jumps

Instructions: stand up with the body stretched and the elbows bent at the sides, holding the handles of the TRX elastic bands with each hand. Keep the tension in the TRX bands, squat and then push yourself with your legs while you pull your arms to jump off the ground. Finish gently, immediately returning to the squat or squat position, and then jump again. Find a continuous rhythm for your jump from squat, making sure to follow the project of your knees on your feet while you squat and keep your spine stretched all the time.

6. TRX push-ups

Instructions: in this exercise, your feet will be in the stirrups of the TRX bands. After placing your feet, put your hands on the ground and find a flat and stable position, with your arms fully extended. Your feet should be directly below the anchor of the TRX bands, elevated from the ground. Keeping the shoulders tight, pull the knees towards the chest. Then extend your legs while doing a flex with your arms. Knees to the chest then push up. Continue with a continuous rhythm, without losing your posture.

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7. Squat jump

Start standing with your feet apart beyond your hips. Go down to squat and push your feet hard to jump in the air. Land gently with your knees bent, rolling the heel of your feet. Use your arms to help you get proper height. Find a continuous rhythm, jump and then land gently.

As you get tired of squatting jumps, you can introduce lateral jumps between jumps from squatting so that your muscles recover. Keep moving! Remember: performing exercises correctly is critical to avoid injuries.

Read more: Cardio Training vs. Weight Training: Which Is Better to Lose Weight?

8. Trenches

Instructions: stand with the right foot forward, the left foot back in a trip position. Lower to trip, folding both knees 90 degrees. Push your feet hard, jump in the air and change your feet before landing. Now, your left foot should be forward and the right foot behind. Land gently in a tripping position, and immediately jump into the air to change your feet. Use your arms to help you achieve height.

When you begin to feel burning in your legs, and the jumps of tripping are a challenge, mix some tripping without jumping.

9. Rolling kettlebell

Instructions: stand two feet behind the kettlebell and look for a firm athletic stance like placing your feet apart from your hips, knees over your feet, hips back and down, chest up and shoulders back. Hold the handles of the kettlebell with both hands and tilt the weight on its side. Now, swing the weight back between your legs, push it up through your legs and move your hips to balance the weight up to your chest. Stand upright, squeezing your buttocks and trunk. Let the Russian kettlebell fall and follow its course with the hips “trapping” it in the back position and swinging the weight to raise it again.

The weight should swing with the strength of your hips, and not pull your arms. This is a turning movement and not a squat. If you are not familiar with the weight of the kettlebell, I recommend that you learn the correct posture and technique with the help of a personal instructor or weightlifter monitor before incorporating this exercise into your training plan.

10. Jump backward with weight

Instructions: using a rope with weight, start with the rope in front of your body. Move the rope over and behind you, and then jump over it. Balances the rope continuously from front to back, jumping on it as it passes under you. Keep the trunk tight at all times and land softly.

11. Burpee or bending with a jump

Instructions: stand upright and stand on the floor to put your hands on the floor as if you were doing a flex. Stretch your feet and lower your body a little to make a flex. Come out of the flex, pushing your arms, bring your feet to your hands and jump straight into the air. Land gently in the squat position and then repeat with your feet backward with a jump, bending, jumping forward and then jumping up.

Make sure you bring your knees to the middle of your foot when you squat. When you jump back to the flex position, land gently on the joints but keep your shoulders compact and the trunk firm. This is an advanced movement, so be careful with your posture, especially as you increase your speed.

Burpees are a full-body exercise that can be exhausting. As the Tabata exercises become more challenging, introduce some lateral breaks between burpees so you can keep moving while letting your body prepare for another repetition of the perfectly executed burpee.

12. Burpee TRX with one leg

Instructions: start in a flat position, placing the left foot on both TRX elastic bands. Place your hands on a firm push-up pose with arms fully extended. Raise the right foot to the arms and some distance from the ground. Pass your right foot forward between your hands, then jump into the air. Land gently on the right leg before bringing both hands to the floor, extend the right leg backward and perform flexion and then leg up. Keep it up! Right foot forward, jump up, land gently, hands down, leg back and flex.

Do not expect to get too much air here! This movement challenges your balance, coordination, trunk strength and power. Make sure you execute each repetition with a perfect posture.

Read more: The 10 Best Exercises to Lose Weight

Frequently Asked Questions About Tabata

Can I do more than one exercise?

If you want variety, you can do the Tabata with a different exercise another day or week (or for more advanced athletes, you can do this even in the same training session).

Alternatively, you can follow the second option (combine exercises) that you have used during the training.

How often should I perform this training?

Tabata intervals can be done several times a week, ideally as part of a comprehensive training plan. These intervals can be used as metabolic finishers after your resistance training or on training days without resistance.

Is Tabata training suitable for me?

The list of Tabata workouts is ordered from beginner to advanced level. If none of these exercises seems appropriate for the level of your physical condition or comfort at this time, then you are not yet ready for a Tabata training.

Instead, focus on developing a strong foundation of strength using a resistance training program of a minimum of 4 weeks duration (12-16 weeks preferably) that includes a combination of movements such as squats, deadlifts, presses, and traction with weights.

Can I do sprints in Tabata?

The sprint is not a good option in Tabata. Why? Because the eccentric forces that you exert when you decelerate your body after a race interval are high. Complete rest is a crucial element in the Tabata intervals, and the tremendous eccentric force concentrated in the hamstrings, hips, trunk, shoulders, arms, and ankles during the deceleration of a maximum sprint does not suppose a rest.

Read more: The 5 Best Types of Yoga to Lose Weight

Can I modify the effort-rest ratio?

The most common time interval you will see in Tabata exercises is 20 seconds of effort followed by 10 seconds of rest. But this is not your only option. The most important factor is the duration of work compared to rest: the whole effort must be double that of rest time.

  • 4 minutes of Tabata: 20 seconds of effort, 10 seconds of disenchantment, 8 repetitions
  • 6 minutes of Tabata: 30 seconds of effort, 15 seconds of rest, 8 repetitions
  • 8 minutes of Tabata: 40 seconds of effort, 20 seconds of rest, 8 repetitions

If you want to train with Tabata, I recommend you keep an effort/rest ratio of 2: 1, but you can play with the duration of the exercises.

Try one of these exercises in a Tabata interval training, and tell me what you think! I guarantee you that you will get an incredible workout.

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