Tabata Interval training is the pinnacle of high-intensity training.  Give this 20-minute Tabata workout a whirl.

Tabata Interval training is a great tool that personal trainers, strength coaches and weekend warriors should employ.  This simple but effective method packs a ton of work into a very short period of time.  I’ve already posted a piece about Tabatas that gives more detail, but the high-intensity nature of this style of training can improve your aerobic and anaerobic conditioning at the same time.

Tabata Intervals are 4-minutes in length and during this interval you work for as hard and fast as you can for 20-seconds, then rest for 10-seconds.  During this 4-minute interval you will do 8 work sets.  I’ll say this time and time again; Tabata training means working as hard has you can. 

Whether you are a personal trainer thinking about using Tabata training for your clients or someone who trains on their own, you must be aware of the fact that this style of training is not for beginners or for those who cannot work as hard as possible.  Tabata Interval training tests as person’s mental and physical toughness. If you’ve been pushing yourself and are looking for something new to try, here’s a good first timer Tabata Interval workout.

Before you get into the meat of the workout – the Tabatas themselves – you must take some time to warm-up properly.  I utilize a variety of warm-up strategies and include dynamic flexibility moves, calisthenics, agility and footwork drills for about 10-12 minutes before getting to the Tabatas.  Even with an appropriate warm-up period this Tabata-based workout will only take about 30 minutes to complete.

Okay enough already, here’s the workout. 

Oh, and make sure that you use a stopwatch/chronograph as sticking to the 20-seconds on/10-seconds off schedule is imperative.

Start with squat thrusts.  You should shoot for 8-10 squat thrusts per set.  There’s no need for any of my editorial comments here, as this is tough enough without you having to listen to my 2 cents echoing in your ears as you workout.


After torturing yourself with for these 4-minutes, take a 4-minute rest before moving on to body weight squats.  Ideally, you should shoot for 20 reps per interval, which is one per second. Duh.  This is pretty tough and not only will your legs start burning, but you will huff and puff like you are going to blow the house down.

Once again, here’s were I implore you to heed my above, all-caps warning.  Don’t make me type it again, I hate the all-caps thing. Once you’ve taken your 4-minute rest after this squat interval, move on over to a stationary bike. 

I have a bike with an RPM mode that allows me to set the bike so that the faster I pedal, the more resistance I encounter.  If you don’t have this kind of option on your stationary bike, use your judgment and set a pace that you feel is appropriate.  For instance, with the work interval pedal at 80 RPMs and rest at 60 RPMs.  Either way will do the trick.

If you don’t have a stationary bike, you can follow the Tabata protocol using a jump rope.  And if you don’t have a jump rope, go out and buy one you cheap skate.  The stationary bike option is way harder, but you jump ropers will still get a lot out of the workout. This is 20-minutes that will do more for you than just about any other 20-minutes imaginable. 

Personal trainers looking to do something different with their clients will find that Tabata Interval training is an exciting change of pace that hard-core clients will appreciate.  If you aren’t a trainer, but work with one, suggest to your personal trainer that you’d like to give Tabata Intervals a try.

If you’re a do-it-yourselfer, you can also reap the benefits offered by Tabata training as long as you follow this workout to the letter, actually the second. Tabata Interval training is a great example of how you can get a lot accomplished in a short period of time.  It isn’t an easy way to train, but it is quick and extremely effective.


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