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Best Tabata Workouts to Boost Your Cardio & Endurance

Tracy Thompson
Published by Tracy Thompson
Last updated: May 24, 2023

The gym I work at as a personal fitness and strength coach has a daily Izumi Tabata class. And when it first started, I was immediately hooked on the high intensity that demands maximum effort.

Many of my clients now ask me whether they should join these classes and what’s involved. And some have asked about doing a Tabata workout at home when they have some time to spare.

So, I got the Tabata coach to help me put together this guide and test it out with a couple of clients to see how effective it is.

Quick Summary

  • Tabata exercises are a fantastic way to force yourself into maximum effort by doing movements like lunge knee drives, frog jump thrusts, and mountain climbers with a twist.
  • Standard bodyweight movements typically involve just one movement, like jumping jacks, but with Tabata, you combine one or more for maximum effect.
  • The Tabata workout training style is extremely effective for cardiovascular fitness, and with the right supplements, you can also burn calories more effectively.

My 7 Favorite Tabata Workouts

Doing best Tbata workouts indoors

Tabata training is a truly unique way of combining different exercises into one movement.

You’ll typically find a lot of plyometric movements that can also be a lot of fun [1].

Interval training is about doing as many reps as possible for 20 seconds and then taking 10 seconds of rest.

You go through each round and then immediately repeat the same exercises for a total of eight rounds.

“Plyometric exercises are powerful aerobic exercises used to increase your speed, endurance, and strength. They require you to exert your muscles to their maximum potential in short periods of time.”

- Daniel Bubnis, M.S., NASM-CPT

Believe me, this is tougher than it sounds.

Fast Feet Long Jump

Doing long jump in the air

This is a fun workout that also works great as a warmup:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Take ten small and fast-paced steps backward.
  • Then, explosively jump forward as far as you can.
  • Repeat for as many reps as possible in 20 seconds.

Russian Twists With A Twist

These are not your typical ab and core exercises, and in the last round, you’ll likely feel a lot of burning in your muscles: 

  • Get into position by sitting on a yoga mat with your knees slightly bent.
  • Bring your hands together in front of your chest and raise your feet off the ground.
  • Start bicycle-kicking your legs in a circular motion.
  • At the same time, bring your hands over to each hip with an alternating twist of your upper body.

Lunge To Knee Drive

Lunging knee upwards

This is another intense exercise that will take a bit of coordination to get right: 

  • Start with your feet hip-width apart and flat on the ground.
  • Take a wide step to the left and bend your left knee into a deep lunge with the other leg straight.
  • Touch your left foot, and then push your left leg back toward the starting position.
  • In the same movement, bring your knee up to your chest and jump as high as you can.

Related: Best Leg Workouts at Home

Frog Squat Jumps Thrust

This is quite similar to burpees, but you need to focus on a wide stance before jumping: 

  • Stand tall with your feet wider than your shoulders.
  • Bring your hands down onto the floor in front of you and jump your feet as far back as possible.
  • You should end up in a high plank position with your arms extended.
  • Bring your feet back outside your hands, jump straight up, and land softly.

Related: Frog Jumps with Proper Form


Lunge Chops

Woman lunging forward

This is a nice body twist movement that will effectively engage your core [2].

It might take a few times to get the timing right: 

  • Stand on your yoga mat and put your hands together straight out in front of you.
  • Do a small jump, and at the same time, bring one foot forward and the other back.
  • Lunge down as far as you can while at the same time bringing your hands down to the side with the forward leg in a chopping motion.
  • Jump up and do the same to the other side, each time twisting your torso in the chopping motion.

Plank Rows

While Tabata exercises generally don’t use weights, you could do this one with a set of dumbbells for added strain: 

  • Get into a plank position on your hands and keep your feet wider apart than for a standard plank.
  • Lift your left hand off the ground and bring it to your shoulder.
  • Try to keep your shoulder parallel to the ground.
  • Put the hand back on the ground and switch to the other side.

Push-Up Mountain Climbers

Doing mountain climbers

And the final one for this round is another tough one with push-ups to get you into a sweat: 

  • Get into a push-up position and bring your right knee to your chest.
  • Stretch the right leg out again and keep the foot off the ground.
  • Now do a single push-up and then switch sides.

What’s the Difference Between Tabata and HIIT?

The main difference between Tabata and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is that Tabata turns up the intensity with shorter workouts.

Essentially, you choose a set of movements and then do maximum reps in 20 seconds, followed by just 10 seconds of rest.

At the end of a round, you get to take a 30-second breather before continuing on to the next round.

You’ll find that your heart rate barely goes down, and you’ll be drenched in sweat by the end, and that’s always a good sign.

Related articles:


Is a 20-Minute Tabata Workout Enough?

Yes, a 20-minute Tabata workout can be enough if you pick the right exercises. Because Tabata is so intense, with hardly any time to rest, you will be burning more calories in 20 minutes than most other workouts will do in twice that time.

Are Tabata Workouts Good for Fat Loss?

Yes, Tabata workouts are great for fat loss. Because of the higher intensity, your body will use up glycogen and glucose reserves quickly, forcing it to source energy from stored body fat.

Try a New Approach for Losing Weight

Try adding two or three 20-minute Tabata workout routines to your weekly plan and see what kind of results you get after just six weeks. Our testing team was able to break through significant weight loss plateaus by doing this.

You should also consider adding one of the high-quality fat burners we tested to your supplement stack:

They won’t be a replacement for a workout, but they can help you burn off some extra calories each day to get rid of more fat.


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