Tabata exercises are fantastic at building both your aerobic and anaerobic fitness. I know people who perform these intervals as their main method of fitness training, probably 4 times per week! (Personally I incorporate these interval sessions only twice per week maximum, amongst other things, as these are extreme workouts.) The basic principle is to perform 20 seconds on ultra-high intensity exercise (all out effort) followed by 10 seconds of rest. This exercise/rest procedure is then repeat 8 times, for a circuit workout time of 4 minutes. Now, 4 minutes doesn’t sound a lot, but believe me it is! After 2 minutes you’ll be wishing for the end. However, as you become fitter and stronger you’ll want to progress. So after your 4 minute workout, rest for 1 minute and then repeat the entire workout. This is a real killer! And for the real tough guys out there, you can build up to 3 circuits. However, I’ve heard people say they can do more . . . but to be honest, I always think that if you can do 4 or more circuits then you obviously aren’t working hard enough during the first 3!

Various Tabata Exercises

The exercise (or exercises) you use will really depend on your ultimate goal. For pure fat burning I prefer running or cycling Tabata training. But rowing, cross training, and even swimming would be fine. But if your ultimate goal is to incorporate muscle strength endurance and tone as well as fat burning, then I think circuit training type exercises are best. Take a look at the following list of exercises that can be used for your Tabata training. This list isn’t exhaustive (there are hundreds of exercises at disposal) but it gives you a good idea of how you can build your sessions. But as always, it’s a good idea to rotate or switch exercises often. This is to develop a full body workout, prevent injury, and keep motivation high.


Press ups

Squat Thrusts

Star Jumps

Dumbbell curls

Shoulder presses





Single Exercise of Exercise Combinations?

Should you pick one exercise for your 8 intervals, or should you choose two and alternate? Or maybe even 8 different exercises? The answer to these questions is purely down to personal choice. If you choose a compound exercise that used multiple muscle groups, like burpees for example, then you could manage an entire 4 minute Tabata workout with just this one exercise. It would be a monster session, but you could do it. If you choose an isolated exercise, like dumbbell curls, then you are unlikely to complete all 8 intervals as these small muscles will be depleted of energy too soon. Of course, you could do this if you had an extremely light set of dumbbells, but that would be cheating and you wouldn’t get any benefit! Personally I like to choose 4 or 8 exercises so I can get more of a full body workout. Each Tabata session I will either perform these exercise in a different order or swap them with other exercises altogether. At the end of the day, be creative. Build a workout that suits you.