Tabata Workouts: 4-Minute Timersavers That Burn Fat

Tabata if you’re short on time. Tabata for fat melting, body transforming power. Tabata if you’ve got the ballz to bust out high intensity at maximum effort.

…it only takes 4 minutes. You can do this.

Tabata workouts are a form of HIIT (high intensity interval training) specifically marked by 8 rounds of 20 seconds of intense all-out effort, followed by 10 seconds of rest. These 8 rounds, or cycles, are equal to 4 minutes of training, or one Tabata. If you were to do two Tabatas, that would be equal to 16 rounds for a total of 8 minutes of training. See how that works?

TABATA SAMPLE WORKOUT ~ total time = 4 minutes

  • Cycle 1: 20 secs high knees, 10 secs rest
  • Cycle 2: 20 secs squat jacks, 10 secs rest
  • Cycle 3: 20 secs burpees, 10 secs rest
  • Cycle 4: 20 secs mountain climbers, 10 secs rest
  • Cycle 5: 20 secs tuck jumps, 10 secs rest
  • Cycle 6: 20 secs switch kicks, 10 secs rest
  • Cycle 7: 20 secs ski hops, 10 secs rest
  • Cycle 8: 20 secs fast butt kick jog, 10 secs rest

Whoa. This workout is only 4 minutes long, but look at those killer moves you gotta barrel through. Since Tabatas are short, you need to put in your absolute best effort. Although 8 different exercises are shown in the example above, feel free to design your Tabata any way you damn well please. My current preference is to use only 2 exercises in my Tabata, like this one right here…

  • Cycle 1: 20 secs high knees, 10 secs rest
  • Cycle 2: 20 secs touchdown squats, 10 secs rest
  • Cycles 3 thru 8: Repeat the alternating pattern of high knees & touchdown squats 6 more times for a total of 8 cycles.

I typically use Tabata as a quick weekend workout, anytime I’m short on time, and also love to use Tabata as a prelude to my strength training sessions.


Don’t worry about counting the Tabata seconds in your head. There are a ton of different timers to choose from. Here are a few good options:

>> Gymboss Interval Timer


>> Tabata HIIT Timer for Android

>> Tabata Stopwatch, iTunes


  • One Tabata only (4-minute timesaver!)
  • One Tabata + 3 minute rest + One Tabata (only 11 minutes long, but a killer)
  • One Tabata + Strength/Weight session  (leg day, for example)
  • One Tabata + Strength/Weight session + One Tabata
  • One Tabata + Strength/Weight session + One Tabata + Strength/Weight session
  • One Tabata + Ab Workout + One Tabata

I’m geeking over the endless combinations! There are so many different combos you can incorporate into your regular training. Although you can opt for a Tabata that uses weights, I don’t personally encourage it. With strength training, I’m of the mindset that you should focus on form and control, opposed to throwing around weights for the sake of beating the clock. As shown in the above examples, bust out your Tabata before or after your strength work instead.

Tabata post-workout NOM. Bacon & Sweet Potatoes

bacon sweet potato

As with everything I present here on the blog, I encourage you to do your own research and decide what’s best for you. If you’re ready to ride the Tabata train, you must pay your fare by feeding me desserts.







  1. blackhuff says:

    Thank you VERY much for sharing the tabata workout. These are going to be great as Interval cardio for inbetween my sets.
    blackhuff recently posted..Why it’s important to just listen to your trainer

  2. Carla says:

    IM SO SO READY TO RIIIDE THE TRAIN (holds out sweet taters)
    Carla recently posted..Yoga is headstands (video).

  3. mimi says:

    It’s been a while since i’ve used Tabatas, but my time gets more crunched every month, so i’m going to have to go back to it.
    mimi recently posted..A Wednesday Whine

  4. misszippy says:

    I do love the time efficiency of tabata workouts, although the suffering during that workout is no fun! I need to get a timer one of these days–I am not coordinated enough to try to pull it off w/ my phone timer!
    misszippy recently posted..Columbia Mall shooting

    • Yum Yucky says:

      Hey you! The dang phone timer runs by itself. Just do yo’ Tabata and listen for the beeps. Don’t make me come over there and Tabata you. ((side-eye))

  5. Beth says:

    Tabata workouts are great! Tough for sure but very time efficient.
    I do listen to the beeps. That made me laugh!
    Beth recently – What Smart Women Should Know Before They Buy?

  6. Tabata is so fun! You get a lot of bang for the time put in.
    Joi @ Rx Fitness Lady recently posted..Is Your Workout As Important as Your Livelihood

  7. Allie says:

    I love Tabata workouts and teach a class similar to it. It’s a 45 minute class so I try not to completely kill them but it’s an amazing, total body workout – including your lungs! Thanks for some good ideas here…and I also love bacon :-)
    Allie recently posted..Suggestion Box

  8. Geosomin says:

    I will do more research on this topic since there’s bacon involved. 😉

  9. Kim says:

    I love Tabata workouts!! I’ve taught a boot camp one and I always just tell the class – it’s just 4 minutes!!!
    Kim recently posted..Do You Work Harder When Someone Is Watching You?

  10. I have never heard about this Tabata thing before. I am definitely going to search about it and than try it.
    Sporten en Afvallen recently posted..Plaatselijk afvallen

  11. Honore says:

    Tabata workouts!! This is tough lol but it’s worth it :)

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