Best Tabata Workouts to Boost Your Cardio & Endurance

Christiana Mikesch, CPT
Published by Christiana Mikesch, CPT | Senior Coach
Last updated: April 30, 2024
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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

  • The best Tabata workouts to boost your cardio and endurance are fast feet long jumps, Russian twists with a twist, lunge-to-knee drives, frog squat jump thrusts, lunge chops, plank rows, and push-up mountain climbers.
  • 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.
  • According to the National Institute of Health, plyometric exercises used in Tabata are powerful for increasing speed, endurance, and strength.
  • In my view, 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.

According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), you’ll typically find a lot of plyometric movements that can also be a lot of fun [1].

I always recommend interval training to my clients, which entails completing as many reps as possible in 20 seconds, followed by a 10-second rest.

You'll cycle through each round, repeating 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 it or not, 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.

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

I'd say that while Tabata exercises typically don't involve weights, incorporating a set of dumbbells can add an extra challenge to the routine.

  • 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:

Combining Tabata with Other Training Methods

Tabata can be effectively integrated with other training approaches for a holistic fitness regimen.

  • When combined with strength training, Tabata's short, intense bursts enhance cardiovascular endurance while strength exercises build muscle and power.
  • Incorporating yoga or Pilates offers a balance, as these disciplines focus on flexibility, core stability, and mindful movement, complementing Tabata's intensity.

This fusion ensures a well-rounded routine, addressing cardiovascular health, strength, flexibility, and mental well-being.

By alternating days or combining elements within a single session, individuals can achieve a comprehensive fitness experience that caters to all aspects of physical health and wellness.


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.

What Is the Best Exercise for Cardio and Endurance?

Aerobics is the best exercise for cardio and endurance, offering a dynamic blend of rhythmic aerobic movements, strength training, and stretching, which collectively enhance heart health, boost stamina, and improve flexibility, suitable for various fitness levels.

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.

Is Tabata Good for a Cardiovascular Workout?

Tabata is excellent for cardiovascular workouts. It boosts heart health and endurance by alternating short bursts of intense exercise with brief rest periods, effectively enhancing cardiovascular efficiency in a compact timeframe.


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About The Author

Christiana Mikesch, CPT
Senior Coach
Christiana Mikesch, CPT is a personal trainer and author with contributions to publications like the Chicago Tribune and Yahoo. She emphasizes a holistic approach to weight loss, combining an energy-fueling diet, goal-oriented workouts, and daily habits. Her approach avoids short-term goals and fosters a lifelong commitment to health and well-being.
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Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer
Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Holistic Nutrition from Clayton College of Natural Health and is the owner of Taylor Made Fitness. Her philosophy centers on cutting through the hype and misinformation surrounding dietary supplements, focusing instead on practical, science-backed strategies for health and weight loss.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD is a published peer-reviewed author and renowned physician from India with over a decade of experience. With her MBBS from Bharati Vidyapeeth and an MD from Rajiv Gandhi University, she actively ensures the accuracy of online dietary supplement and medical information by reviewing and fact-checking health publications.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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