Exercise Hate Running? Try This Tabata-inspired Workout!

tabata workout

Embark on a 20-Minute Metabolic Adventure that Outburns Running *No Mountains Required

Science has shown us that a mere 20 minutes of heart-pumping exercise can rewrite our genetic code, giving our muscles an extra helping of power and stamina – talk about a workout with benefits! And guess what? You don’t have to run a marathon to reap these benefits. In fact, you don’t even have to leave the house. Choose your exercises wisely and even a snappy 20-minute routine can spark a roaring calorie bonfire.

Enter the Tabata Territory! The brainchild of Izumi Tabata, this innovative training scheme involves quick bouts of maximum-effort exercise, chased by a tiny breather. Tabata’s light bulb moment happened while training the Japanese Olympic speed skating team. He trialed his method on a gaggle of university students, making them cycle at full pelt for 20 seconds, then take a 10-second breather, repeating the sequence eight times. Including a warm-up, this heart-thumping circuit took just 14 minutes.

Tabata’s experiment revealed that after six weeks of this five days-a-week sprint fest, the students had rocketed their aerobic fitness by an average of 14%. In comparison, a group who pedaled steadily for an hour only managed to increase their fitness by 10%. To put it plainly, the sprinting students had the edge, despite working out for a whopping 56 fewer minutes! That’s the equivalent of swapping five hours of exercise for a swift 20-minute sprint-and-chill session.

Now, for many of us, the classic Tabata seems like a fairy tale. While it’s great for boosting aerobic fitness, it may not incinerate as many calories as we’d like, because let’s face it, four minutes of exercise isn’t a ton. Plus, most of us struggle to reach the dizzying heights of intensity that the students in the study did. We want to finish our workout feeling pumped, not pooped.

To solve this, many trainers suggest taking the intensity down a notch and doing more rounds of the Tabata cycle. Sprinkling in a variety of exercises instead of just one can target different muscle groups, keeping your workout exciting and keeping you from hitting the wall.

For example, a 20-minute Tabata fiesta could feature a colorful variety of exercises like jumping rope, squats, and push-ups, each done at full throttle for 20 seconds, followed by a 10-second breather.

To gauge the calorie-crunching capacity of this workout style, the American Council on Exercise ran their own 20-minute Tabata experiment. And voila! In just 20 minutes, participants burned between 240–360 calories, or 15 calories per minute. That’s more than what a 150-pound person would burn while out for a 20-minute jog.

So, with Tabata workout, you could potentially torch hundreds of extra calories in just a few sessions a week. Numerous studies also confirm Tabata’s fat-zapping potential in an impressively short time.

Inspired by the Tabata Workout Protocol from the American Council on Exercise, I’ve whipped up a newbie-friendly version you can dive into straight away. But first, practice these four exercises to ensure you’re performing each with impeccable form.



Stand with your feet hip-width apart and extend your arms in front of you. Keep your back straight and lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the floor. For a deeper squat, you can drop your hips a bit lower. Push through your feet to stand back up, and repeat.


Stand upright with your feet together and hands at your sides. Hop your feet apart while raising your arms above your head. Then, reverse the move, returning your hands and feet to their starting positions.


Assume a high plank position, hands on the ground and slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Lower your body until your chest almost touches the ground, then push back up. For an easier version, drop to your knees.


Stand upright, feet hip-width apart. Step forward and lower your body until both knees form right angles. Push through your feet to return to the starting position, and switch legs.

Repeat the following routine SIX cycles, MAINTAIN THE 3 minutes ROUNDS, and YOU’VE GOT YOURSELF a 20-minute workout:
  • 20 seconds of bodyweight squats
  • 10 seconds rest
  • 20 seconds of jumping jacks
  • 10 seconds rest
  • 20 seconds of pushups
  • 10 seconds rest
  • 20 seconds of lunges
  • 10 seconds rest 
  • 60 seconds rest
  • Warm up for at least 2 minutes before starting the workout.
  • During the 20-second active periods, try to do as many reps as possible while maintaining controlled, proper form.
  • During the rest periods, catch your breath, shake out your arms and legs.
  • If you find it tough to maintain form through five rounds, start with two or three, and work your way up.

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