We’ve all got a few hours a day to work up a sweat, burn a few calories, and tone our muscles, right?
Wrong! In fact, many people barely have any time at all to dedicate to working out. All those hours spent slaving away on a treadmill performing a slow-paced jog might certainly burn some calories and body fat, but it’s such an inefficient way to get into shape and lose weight.
There’s got to be a better way to work out, and there is: tabata.
Ever heard of it? If not, tabata is a high-intensity, short-duration, full body workout routine that’s high in effectiveness while being low in time dedication.
Let’s go over exactly what tabata is; what you stand to benefit from it; and some sample tabata workouts at home that will help you to burn body fat and get into serious shape.
What Is Tabata?
There are so many different types of workouts out there that you may have heard of, but tabata is somewhat unique. Basically, tabata is a form of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) that incorporates short bouts of intense movements followed by even shorter moments of rest in between.
The idea behind tabata-style training is to get the heart rate revving up very quickly and experience calorie burning and fat burning in a much shorter period of time in comparison to low-intensity training. The amount of calories that you can burn in 15-20 minutes of a tabata workout is comparable to as much as an hour of jogging at a slow pace.
What’s more, the fat-burning effects can continue hours after the workout is complete. As much as 24-48 hours after training, your body can still be burning calories and fat, unlike the effects of that hour-long jog. And what’s even better is that you can build lean muscle tissue thanks to the intense muscle-engaging movements that are typical of tabata workouts at home.
How Do You Do a Tabata Workout?
Tabata workouts typically only include four different movements throughout the entire duration of the session. That means each movement is alternated from one to the next until the session is done.
Since tabata workouts at home involve intense bouts of exercise, you only need to work out for 15-20 minutes to get a good burn going. Each tabata session will have the following format:
- Work for 20 seconds
- Take a 10-second rest
- Repeat the same movement in this format for a total of eight rounds
- Rest for one minute until moving on to the next movement
Basically, you’ll perform each movement for a total of four minutes before moving on to the next exercise. During the 20 seconds of work, your goal is to exert yourself as much as possible to maximize the effectiveness of your workout. We’ll show you some sample workouts to help you get a better idea of exactly how these workouts are formatted and how to do them.
How Does Tabata Burn Fat?
As mentioned earlier, tabata is a form of HIIT, which has shown to burn fat more efficiently than steady-state exercise1. When tabata exercises are performed at their highest intensity, your metabolic rate skyrockets. And since you’re only given very short periods of rest in between, your body doesn’t have a chance to fully recover. As a result, your metabolic rate stays elevated even long after your workout session has ended.
Tabata can help encourage your body to continue burning fat even when you’re not working out. Even at rest, your body will continue to burn fat and calories, unlike what happens after you’ve completed a session of low-intensity exercise2.
How Often Should You Do Tabata Workouts at Home?
Because of the high intensity nature of tabata workouts, about two or three workouts per week should suffice. This frequency will bring you great results in a short amount of time without overexerting your muscles.
In addition, be sure to allow at least 24 hours of rest in between, so don’t perform two tabata workouts two days in a row. Every other day for three days in a week is more than enough. Ideally, you’ll want to incorporate a couple of weight training workouts in a week as well, so those rest days provide the perfect opportunity to do so.
Sample Tabata Workouts
Now that you know what tabata workouts are and why you should do them, we thought we’d toss in some killer tabata workouts at home for you to adopt into your exercise regime. These plans are designed as full-body workouts so all major muscle groups of your body are targeted with each session.
Remember to perform each exercise for 20 seconds on and 10 seconds off for a total of four minutes, or eight rounds. Then, rest actively (walking, jogging on the spot, etc) for one minute before moving on to the next exercise. Enjoy!
Workout No. 1
- Squat jumps
- Mountain climbers
- Plank walk-outs
This exercise will target all the muscles of the lower body, including your quads, hamstrings, calves, and glutes. It will also target your core when conducted properly.
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and hands clasped together in front of you. Keeping your chest and buttocks sticking out, lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Your knees should be directly over your feet. On your way back up, hop up into the air as high as you can, and continue lowering your body into a squat and repeatedly jumping in a fluid motion.
Mountain climbers target your core, shoulders, back, chest and quads. To perform, start in a plank position and bring your right knee in towards your chest. Simultaneously drive your left knee into your chest while bringing your right foot back to starting position. Continuously alternate knees while keeping your back as straight as possible without lifting your buttocks into the air.
This classic exercise needs little explaining. Pushups target your triceps, biceps, shoulders, chest, back and core, and they can surprisingly get your heart rate up when you don’t give your body enough rest in between to fully recover.
Start in a plank position with hands slightly farther than shoulder-width apart. Lower your body to the ground while keeping your body in a straight line, resisting the urge to bend at the hips or knees. Try to touch the ground with your nose, then lift your body back up to starting position.
This move will target the muscles of your upper body as well as your core. You may even feel it a little in your glutes and hamstrings!
Start by standing upright with your arms at your sides. Keeping your legs straight, reach down to the ground and walk out on your hands into a plank position. Walk back on your hands towards your feet without bending at the knees, and stand back up into starting position.
Workout No. 2
- Kettlebell swings
- Spiderman plank
- Box jumps
This exercise might have a strange name, but it’s killer. You’ll be targeting your quads, glutes, core, chest and arms.
Start by standing upright with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend at the knees and lower your body to the ground, placing your palms on the floor. Jump back with both feet until you’re in a plank position, then perform one proper pushup. Jump your feet back towards your hands, and leap back into the air with both arms reaching for the ceiling. When you land, go right into another rep, and repeat.
Both a strength training and cardio exercise, kettlebell swings have become extremely popular over the recent past. You’ll need a kettlebell in your desired weight to perform this move. You’ll hit your arms, shoulders, chest, back, quads and glutes with this exercise.
Start by standing upright with feet spread apart holding the kettlebell in both hands out in front of you. Bend at the knees and lower the weight between your legs, bringing it just behind your knees. Then stand back up and swing the kettlebell out in front of you until it reaches eye-level. Repeat this move in a continuous motion.
This is a challenging move that you may have to work your way up to performing correctly. It will target your arms, chest, back, and your entire core.
Start at the lower end of a pushup position with your elbows bent at a 90-degree angle. While maintaining that position, drive your right knee out at the side of your body towards your right elbow. Bring your foot back to starting position, then drive your left knee into your left elbow. Repeat in a continuous motion.
You can perform this exercise with an exercise box, an exercise bench, or even on a staircase. This will target your entire lower body as well as your core while giving you a major cardio workout at the same time.
To perform, stand about a couple of inches away from the exercise box or stairs. Leap with both feet at the same time making sure to get your arms in action to help propel your body upwards. Land with both feet flat on the surface, maintain your balance, then jump back down and repeat.
- Lateral slides
- Scissor kicks
- Lunge hops
- Broad jump to quick feet
This dynamic exercise will hit your quads, glutes and hamstrings. To perform, stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and knees bent slightly. Hop to your right, extending your foot as far out as you can. When you land, bend your right knee and touch your left hand to your right foot.
Immediately hop over to your left with your left foot, bending your left leg at the knee and tapping left foot with your right hand. Continue alternating from side to side.
Target your entire core — including the tough-to-reach lower abs — with a scissor kick exercise.
To perform, lie down flat on your back with your hands tucked underneath your buttocks. Lift your feet off the floor about six inches while keeping your legs straight. Open your legs and move your feet out to the sides and bring them back in the center repeatedly in a fluid motion.
You’ll be targeting your quads, hamstrings, glutes and hips with lunge hops. If you struggle with this move (which can be a tough one), there are modifications you can make.
Start in a lunge position with your right foot out in front of you, your right thigh parallel to the ground, your knee in line with your foot, and your hands clasped in front of you. In one fluid motion, leap into the air and switch positions of your feet, landing with your left foot out in front and your right foot behind you.
If you find this too difficult, you can land with both feet together between alternating. Just make sure to keep up a brisk pace.
Broad Jump to Quick Feet
This is a great cardio workout that will also help to strengthen your lower body and develop speed. Start in a squat position, and take one large leap in front of you as far as you can reach. Immediately after you land on both feet, take quick, small steps backwards on your toes until you reach your starting position. Repeat.
These exercises might sound simple, but give them a try and you’ll quickly realize how incredibly challenging it can be to work really hard for 20 seconds with only 10 seconds of rest in between. But working hard means you won’t have to work out for long, all while getting an incredibly effective aerobic and strength training workout that will make you burn body fat long after you’ve hit the showers.
Performing 20 minute tabata workouts at home just two or three times a week will help you get into amazing shape without wasting all that time and money in a gym. Feel the burn!