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Six Awesome 4-Minute Tabata Workouts You Can Do At Home

tabata workout

Tabatas are one of my favorite types of workouts of all time.

They’re short, incredibly effective, and mindblowingly hard if you do them right—everything that comprises a good workout.

I wrote an entire post on why Tabata workouts are so awesome, so I won’t go too into detail about them here. But basically, Tabata workouts are a method of exercise that lasts only four minutes, and requires you to go all out for 20 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds. You’ll repeat this cycle eight times to complete the workout.

You’ll need a timer to effectively do a Tabata, since no one can accurately count to 20 seconds when they’re working that hard. You can get any kind you like, but I always use this one because of its portability.

And trust me on this one—if you think that you can do four minutes of exercise in your sleep, you’re underestimating how hard Tabata workouts really are (if you do them right, that is).

Because Tabata workouts will kick your ass—but they’re worth every second of the pain.

Why you should do Tabatas

Not only do Tabatas rev up your metabolism, making your body a calorie-burning, fat scorching machine, they also increase your maximum aerobic and anaerobic capacity way faster than traditional exercise.

Plus, they take so little time to actually do, they’re an awesome addition to any workout routine.

Here are some ideas of when to do a Tabata workout:

  • When you’re busy, and you don’t even have 12 minutes
  • When you’re fatigued but still want to fit in a quick workout
  • In the morning to get your metabolism going in the a.m.
  • Any time you’re craving a little sweat-inducing, crazy hard exercise that takes zero time

Tip: If you want to make an entire 12-minute workout out of Tabatas (or an 8-minute, 16-minute, or whatever length workout you want), the key is to stack multiple routines together. To do this, do one Tabata workout, take a one-minute rest, do another, rest, etc. The key here is to still work as hard as you can during each mini workout. You’ll be exhausted by the end, trust me.

Feeling pumped to try some Tabatas yet? Here are six awesome workouts you can do with zero or minimal equipment:

#1. Sprint

This is the classic Tabata workout, and the one most people think of when they think of Tabatas.

To do it, just find an open space and set your timer for 8 rounds of 10 and 20 seconds. Then sprint your heart out during the 20 second intervals and walk or rest completely during the 10 second intervals.

#2. High knees w/ jump rope

Another awesome cardio Tabata, this is my go-to Tabata workout when I want to get my heart up at the beginning of the day or just need to burn some extra energy off.

To do it, set your timer for 8 rounds of 10 and 20 seconds, jumping rope as fast as humanly possible during the 20 second intervals and resting during the 10 second intervals.

To make this one extra fun, sometimes I’ll add a push up in between intervals (which basically turns into a burpee since you have to do it so fast).

#3. Alternate between: burpees and mountain climbers

This one’s extra fun: you’ll be doing two different exercises, and switching each interval.

You’ll start by doing 20 seconds of burpees, rest, then do 20 seconds of mountain climbers. Continue until you’ve completed all eight rounds.

#4. Alternate between: Squat jumps and pike jumps

Your legs will be burning after this one, no doubt about it.

To do it: Start with 20 seconds of squat jumps, rest, then do 20 seconds of pike jumps. Continue for four minutes.

#5. Alternate between: Air squats and push ups

This is a great full body workout. You’ll work every single muscle during these awesome four minutes!

Start with 20 seconds of air squats, rest, then do 20 seconds of push ups. Alternate until you’ve finished all four rounds.

#6. Alternate between: Snowboarder jumps and plank jumps

Core, legs, cardio—this Tabata workout has it all.

Do it by starting with 20 seconds of snowboarder jumps (squat down as far as possible!), rest, then do 20 seconds of plank jumps. Continue switching back and forth for the entire four minutes.

And now for the bonus round… the ultimate Tabata!

Alternate between: High knees and mountain climbers (no rest!)

This one will leave you breathless and wondering how four minutes could possibly take so long. But hey, it’s effective—so it’s worth it!

Start with 20 seconds of high knees. Then, instead of resting during the 10 seconds, drop down and do mountain climbers instead. Repeat. Continue for the entire four minutes taking no rest. And have fun!

Do you have a favorite Tabata workout? Let me know in the comments below!

And don’t forget to WORK IT.

14 Responses to Six Awesome 4-Minute Tabata Workouts You Can Do At Home

  1. Sean Carey March 14, 2015 at 6:01 pm #

    The final one, the “ultimate tabata” is not a tabata. you *need* those 10 seconds of rest to experience the full gains of a tabata exercise.

  2. Chris May 12, 2014 at 3:15 pm #

    Is there any reason that one should not do these multiple times per day? Like every 4 hours throughout the day in an attempt to keep revving metabolism?

    • Sean Carey March 14, 2015 at 6:24 pm #

      No, there isnt any reason not to. The only stipulation is that you need to make sure to be putting in FULL effort, your absolute max, for each 20 second round of activity. If you did one in the morning, one after work, and one before bed, I would assume it will increase metabolic activity in your body. It might not be a sustainable workout routine, tho. I mean, at the end of the 4 minutes you should be nearly unable to walk. Doing that 3 or 4 times a day might put more wear on your body. Tabata workouts you never gai na tolerance for, since the level of exertion increases as your ability does. The chubby kid down the road should be as tired after doing tabata as the fitness pro at your local gym.

  3. Bill Granville March 26, 2014 at 1:25 pm #

    I was doing tabata work outs for a while but I stopped doing them (all of HiiT actually) for what reason I don’t know. I regularly lift weights but I need the cardio just as much if not more. I’m sure I had some dumb excuse for stopping like “I don’t have time” or something like that. But really, who doesn’t have 4 – 12 minutes? Anyway, thanks for the email and the push Krista; I’m going right back to them tonight starting with the jump rope!!!

  4. Julie May 19, 2013 at 11:53 pm #

    I notice that when you have the alternating ones for tabatas, there’s just two. Would it be counterproductive if I had multiple ones during a 4 minute tabata?

    For example, I was doing burpees, squat jumps, pike jumps, knee pushups, burpees, knee pushups, air squats.

    • Krista Stryker May 20, 2013 at 8:10 am #

      As long as you’re still working crazy hard, it’s not counterproductive, it just won’t exhaust the same muscle groups as it would if you were doing just one or two exercises per tabata.

      • Julie May 20, 2013 at 10:41 am #

        How often do you rest before you workout again (esp close to just starting out) because I choose to do different workouts because I just can’t take it. Like it would burn to the point where I just can’t go on. And I recently realized it was probably due to muscle fatigue/overuse because what used to be a lot more simpler (hiking a trail) ended up taking a huge toll on my quads and calves recently.

        • Krista Stryker May 20, 2013 at 1:41 pm #

          Julie, it depends on what you’re doing, and how much of a beginner you are. When you’re just starting out with HIIT, I’d recommend doing no more than 2-3 times a week. When you start to get more advanced, you can go up to 4-6 times a week. Also, for your quads/calves try foam rolling! It really works. Learn how to do it here.


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