New Tabata Routines

By Lauren Bedosky |

Q | I love Tabata intervals, but I’m a little burned out with my routine. Can you suggest new ways to use them? 

A | Tabata intervals remain popular for good reason: They offer the same fat-loss and cardiovascular benefits as traditional cardio, but in a fraction of the time. They’re typically done by performing one exercise for 20-second bursts followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeated eight times. One round takes a total of four minutes. (Learn more at “The Tabata Tune-Up“.)

If you’ve been training with Tabata for a while, you may be ready for some variety. Change it up by building supersets and circuits that combine a mix of exercises, selecting moves you can maintain at a high intensity without a breakdown in form. (Save technical lifts like Olympic cleans for another workout.)

Feel free to get creative and to tailor your workout according to the areas you want to focus on that day. Alternate between 20 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest, regardless of the format. (For movement ideas, check out “Build Your Own Workout Plan“.)

Personal trainer Artemis Scantalides, NASM-CPT, owner of Iron Body Training Systems in Las Vegas, offers these suggestions:

  1. For a full-body workout, try a Tabata-inspired superset: Alternate an upper-body pull exercise (for instance, suspension-trainer rows) with a lower-body push movement (like squats). Do each exercise four times to complete the four-minute round.

After one round, rest for a minute to catch your breath, then perform a second round, this time doing a superset of an upper-body push exercise (pushups, for example) and a core movement (like planks). In total, this workout will take nine minutes.

  1. For more of a circuit, flow through four exercises that work different muscles: one upper-body pull, one upper-body push, one lower-body exercise, and one for your core. In four minutes, you’ll complete two full circuits.

Your intensity level for each 20-second exercise will likely be different from your exertion during a four-move circuit, since recovery time is minimal in the Tabata Protocol.

Be mindful of your energy and pay close attention to your form. It’s OK to take a break during one of the work intervals, says Scantalides. As you progress, you’ll eventually be able to stick to the workout structure.

This originally appeared in “Expert Answers” in the October 2017 print issue of Experience Life.

For this workout, designed by Artemis Scantalides, NASM-CPT, perform the first exercise for 20 seconds, followed by a 10-second rest, and then move on to the next exercise in the sequence. Run through the circuit two times; this will take eight minutes to complete.

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