1. Overview
  2. Timers
  3. Workouts


Tabatas are a form of high intensity interval training (HIIT) that are comprised of eight rounds of 20/10 intervals– 20 seconds of work, followed by 10 seconds of rest. In the original study conducted by Japanese scientist Izumi Tabata in the mid-1990s, the test group that used this structure experienced improvements in anaerobic fitness of nearly 30%. Research since then has garnered similar results.

Though a single tabata lasts only four minutes, it is common to complete anywhere from four to eight tabatas in the span of a workout. Depending on the participant’s goals, these workouts can focus on only two body parts (e.g. legs and abs) or work nearly every part of one’s body.

Tabata workouts come in a variety of forms, ranging from an AAAA, BBBB format to ABAB to ABCD.

Take four movements, such as push-ups, air squats, pull-ups, and crunches. In a tabata workout, they could be combined as,

  • Push-ups x one tabata; air squats x one tabata; pull-ups x one tabata; crunches x one tabata (the AAAA,BBBB format)
  • Push-ups, air squats, push-ups, air squats, push-ups, air squats, push-ups, air squats (the ABAB format)
  • Push-ups, air squats, pull-ups, crunches, push-ups, air squats, pull-ups, crunches (the ABCD format)

I personally prefer the ABCD format as it brings more variety to my workouts. In the end, whatever form will keep you most engaged with your workout should be utilized.


Timing, as I’m sure you’ve guessed, is crucial to the successful completion of a tabata. Though stopwatches can be used, it’s nice to have the work taken care of for you with a timer that’s already set up.

If you’re able to use a computer while working out, this timer has proved to be the most reliable for me:

There are also several timer apps for iPhones, Androids, and Windows Phones. Unless you’re really hung up on a certain app’s UI, any of them will be sufficient.


While tabatas can often be performed with dumbbells and free weights, the workouts below utilize only bodyweight exercises.

1a) Legs and Abs (beginner)

  • Air squats
  • Janda sit-ups
  • Lunges
  • Side planks

1b) Legs and Abs (advanced)

  • Jump squats
  • Reverse crunches
  • Jumping lunges
  • Leg lifts

2a) Total Body (beginner)

  • Push-ups
  • Jumping jacks
  • Air punches
  • Side jumps

2b) Total Body (advanced)

  • Burpees
  • Star jumps
  • Mountain climbers
  • V-sit

3a) Upper Body (beginner)

  • Push-ups
  • Chair dips
  • Plank punches
  • Supermans

3b) Upper Body (advanced)

  • Moving push-ups
  • Swimmers
  • Chair dips with leg raise
  • Diamond push-ups