Right, before we get started, you’re probably asking: what is a Tabata? Well, it’s a workout method named after Dr Izumi Tabata, a physician who researched and created a type of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) that’s proven to provide epic results in a ridiculously short space of time.
It’s pretty simple, too: you do 20 seconds of high-intensity training followed by 10 seconds of rest – and you repeat that eight times, so it makes up four minutes in total. That’s right, just four minutes! We here at TME love Tabata-style workouts because they are brilliant for beginners (safer injury-wise, less intimidating, and easier to remember) and bodyweight plans.
Even the busiest clients can squeeze in a four-minute session (plus a warm-up) somewhere in their day. It can even work as a sweaty, high-heart rate finisher for fitter and stronger athletes at the end of their regular workouts!
So, here’s how it works – make sure you do a proper warm-up, and then follow this basic plan below. Keep in mind that you can do more than one Tabata in a workout, BUT to get the most out of them, you need to send it (give 100%t effort but with perfect form) in every interval to get the real benefits of these fast workouts.
So, get some proper rest in-between and remember that faster is not necessarily better – make sure your technique is on point before speeding up. You want muscle burn, not injury burn. And don’t neglect your warm down!
This Tabata workout uses four moves: one core blaster, one lower-limb focused exercise, and two total-body torchers. Not only will these moves rev your heart rate and help torch fat, but they will all also build muscle and test your agility and coordination in different planes of motion.
The benefits for you? Functional strength and a body that’s armour-proofed against injury. You don’t need any equipment besides an exercise mat and the timer on your phone.
After your warm-up, do eight sets of 20 seconds of work and then 10 seconds rest for one exercise. For example, 20 seconds of lunges, 10 seconds rest, repeated eight times. Once done, you rest for three minutes, and then you tackle the plank.
If you want to do all four, make sure you rest three minutes between each of four exercise sets. But our advice: start with one Tabata set with one move, and then work your way up to four as you start feeling fitter and stronger!
1. Jumping Lunge
It’s no secret that we’re huge fans of the lunge. Also called the Switch Lunge, it’s simply one of the best moves for building functional leg strength and cardio fitness, and you can tweak it in plenty of ways. However, this one jacks up your heart rate because you jump from leg to leg in the lunge position. Check out this description to see how to do it. And trust us, your muscles will start burning pronto – but the leg gains are so worth it!
Most people underestimate how challenging the plank can be, especially when used in a Tabata workout. Trust us when we say that this is going to hurt – especially in the beginning. To make sure you get the right muscle burn for this, make sure your hips don’t sag or that you stick your bum in the air.
You should use the broom example – if someone had to lay a broom down on your back, it should be straight and level, and the broom should be in contact throughout. Here’s how to get the technique right. And here’s a tip – if you really can’t survive for eight sets of 20 seconds of plank work, break it the ‘work’ periods by switching into side planks too.
3. Mountain Climber
Here’s where co-ordination skills are needed, as this move tackles all the major muscle groups, and it targets the core too – which will be tired after the plank. It might be tough to get right at first, but it’s worth the hassle as it’s a potent calorie burner. Here’s how to do it.
Ah, the move we all love to hate – and there’s a reason why it’s last in the list. It’s going to burn, but trust us, you are going to walk (or hobble) away feeling fantastic. As always, your technique needs to be perfect. If you’re struggling with the technique, rather slow down, and get it right. Check out this tutorial to finetune your technique.