Imagine working out for a few minutes…and then being done. That’s the idea behind HIIT workouts (high intensity interval training), which alternate short bursts of high (and we mean HIGH) intensity work with rest periods.

According to research from a recent American College of Sports Medicine conference, Tabata (a specific type of HIIT workout) can burn a whopping 13.5 calories a minute (FYI running burns around 10), and double your metabolic rate for 30 minutes afterward. Burn DOUBLE the calories for doing nothing? Where do we sign up?!

With stats like that, it’s no wonder personal trainers the world over swear by HIIT for torching fat and blasting calories. To find out more about this seemingly too good to be true workout, we enlisted the insight of Lisa Welham, an official tabata™ trainer at Fitness First. Here she gives us the low down on how to take your workouts to the next level.

What is Tabata?

tabata™ is a clinically proven way to get fit in just four minutes, developed by Japanese Professor Izumi Tabata. It consists of 20 seconds of intense exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeated 8 times, to total 4 minutes. It’s scientifically proven to be the most effective way to increase both aerobic and anaerobic fitness and works by stressing the system maximally – it pushes you to your limit for maximum benefit. It has to feel extremely difficult for it to be working.

During a Tabata class, instructors lead a workout featuring dynamic bodyweight moves that have a heart-pumping effect (think burpees, squat jumps, leaping lunges) which aims to get participants up to their maximum heart rate over the crucial four-minute Tabata section. Each 20-minute class includes a mobilisation section to get your muscles ready to work, a warm up and a cool down.

Is it really THAT effective?

Professor Tabata’s in depth clinical trials have proven that just one 4-minute Tabata workout gets you fitter than an hour working out on an exercise bike, an hour of jogging, two hours of walking, an hour of Zumba and two hours of yoga.

Plus, you can burn up to 250 calories per session and after a workout, your body continues to burn extra calories for up to 12 hours.

How often should I do a Tabata workout?

If you do Tabata just twice a week with no other exercise, you will soon see improvement in your appearance and fitness levels. I wouldn’t recommend doing the routines more than 4 times a week and not on consecutive days as it’s extremely tough and your body needs time to recover.

Do you have to be super fit to do it?

No, anybody can do Tabata! But if you have never done it before I would recommend heading to Fitness First to be guided by one of the official Tabatatrainers. We would also recommend enquiring with your doctor if you have any existing health issues or concerns.

Sound like your kind of workout? Try it at Fitness First or create your own at home using this formula: 20 seconds on, 10 seconds rest x 8 times. Get ready to sweat!




Taylor Anderson Acting Editor American in London.


Tabata Exercises: Fat Burning With A Tabata Interval Training

Throughout my career in fitness and wellness coaching, I have heard every single excuse in the book. The two most common is excuses are lack of time and not having a gym membership or access to equipment.

Fortunately, in this post I am talking to you about Tabata interval training with your own bodyweight which requires no equipment and not a lot of time – it only takes 4 minutes to complete a quick workout.

What is Tabata interval training?

Tabata interval training style was developed by Dr. Tabata in 1996. The individual works at maximum intensity for 20 seconds, followed by 10 seconds of rest for 8 rounds.

Dr. Tabata found that his subjects doing this style of training, 5 days a week for 6 weeks, resulted in a 28% increase in anaerobic and 14% increase in aerobic fitness. These results were quite ground breaking and, since then Tabata (and other High Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT) exercises have found a place in mainstream fitness for beginners as well as professional athletes.

What are the benefits of Tabata interval training?

This goes back to my opening paragraph—most people have tortured the excuse that time for training is nowhere to be found. Tabata training puts an end to all that nonsense.

A study at Auburn University found…

that it would take 20 minutes of normal cardio (i.e. a brisk walk) to burn the equivalent amount of calories in a 4 minute Tabata workout. Now you’re listening?

While the benefits and results are best achieved by going “all out” (your hardest and/or fastest) during the work period, Tabata training allows you to work up to that intensity with time being your factor, not repetitions. While you may not receive the full benefits initially, you will definitely see benefits by incorporating Tabata training into your workout routine.

What is “all out” and am I reaching it?

In order to fully execute an intensity to reap the full benefits of Tabata interval training, you want to work at 75% of your maximum heart rate or above. If you have a heart rate monitor you can have access to this number instantly. To calculate 75% of your maximum heart rate:

220-your age = HRmax
HRmax x .75 = 75% of your HRmax

If you don’t have a heart rate monitor you can use the “talk test.” This means you should be working at an intensity where it is impossible to carry a conversation. If you are able to talk, you aren’t working hard enough.


Working at this high intensity can sometimes mean that proper form is being completely forgotten. Make sure you are choosing and doing exercises that you know how to do properly. Form is more important than anything when it comes to exercise, so make sure you know what you’re doing before you jump into a new type of training.

Total body tabata workout in 15 minutes

This is how it works:

  • Exercises per Tabata set = 2
  • Duration of each exercise = 20 seconds
  • Rest (after each exercise) = 10 seconds
  • Sets = 3

Here is an example for a Tabata workout:

  • 20 seconds exercise #1
  • 10 seconds pause
  • 20 seconds exercise #2
  • 10 seconds pause
  • Repeat this set 4 times to complete a Tabata workout (4 minutes in total for one Tabata set).

This Tabata workout consists of 3 full Tabata sets (4 minutes each). To make this workout 15 minutes, the rest in between each Tabata set should be 1 minute. If you need more time to rest, recover & catch your breath – go for it!

Tabata 1

#1: 4-Count-Burpees

#2: Side Lunge & Touch Down

Tabata 2

#3: Pushup-to-Side Plank

#4: Jumping Jacks

Tabata 3

#5: Up-Downs

#6: Jump Squats

You can find more bodyweight exercises in the adidas Training app. Download it now!


What Is Tabata Training And Why You Should Try It

Back in 1996 if you mentioned HIIT most people would probably have assumed you were talking about an Oasis record rather than an exercise style, but it happens to have been the year one of the most well-known branches of HIIT was born: Tabata training.

What Is Tabata Training?

Tabata is named after Professor Izumi Tabata, who conducted a study into the effects of HIIT on aerobic and anaerobic fitness, and how it compared to steady-state training.

The original study used highly trained athletes, divided into two groups. One did five sessions of steady-state training a week, while the other did four HIIT workouts plus one steady-state workout.

The HIIT involved 20-second bursts of very intense exercise followed by ten seconds of rest, repeated eight times for a total of four minutes. This four-minute blast was preceded by a five-minute warm-up and followed by a two-minute warm-down, with all the exercise done on a stationary bike. During the intense sections the athletes had to maintain a pace of over 85RPM or they were disqualified.

At the end of the study, both groups saw rises in their VO2 max (basically, how efficiently the body can use oxygen), but those who had used the Tabata protocol also improved their anaerobic fitness.

Since then Tabata training has come to mean any workout which is broken up into 20 seconds work and ten seconds of rest, repeated for four minutes. From there people often add in more rounds, building up the workout in four-minute blocks.

It’s also used today as an effective way to burn fat (but not lose weight, this isn’t a protocol for beginners, remember). Why? Because just ten seconds of recovery after 20 seconds of lung-busting effort isn’t enough time to completely get your breath back, so your heart rate stays high and the accumulated fatigue quickly adds up to shock your body into freeing up the energy supplies tucked away in your fat cells. This means that while you may not burn that many calories during the actual four minutes of training, you body will continue to burn calories at a higher rate at rest during the following hours. Some studies indicate your metabolism is boosted for up to 24 hours after a HIIT session.

How To Do Tabata Training

Tabata is not a workout for fitness beginners, because it’s vital that the 20-second bursts of work are done at maximum intensity. In theory, it can be applied to all forms of exercise – you can do Tabata running, cycling, bodyweight exercises, weight training or anything else. However, it’s best done with exercises that allow you to increase the intensity quickly and safely. So start with work on a cardio machine or simple bodyweight moves like press-ups or unweighted squats.

To stress the most important point again, if you’re doing Tabata right it will feel like absolute torture for four minutes. You shouldn’t be able to talk during the intense bursts.

You can build workouts around the Tabata principle in four-minute blocks, changing the exercise after each four-minute stint. For example you could do four minutes on the rower, four of press-ups, four of jump squats and four on a stationary bike.

You don’t want to make the overall workout too long, though, because this will probably mean you’re unable to maintain the intensity. It’s also important to make sure you warm up before your first 20-second stint at max intensity.

20-Minute Full-Body Tabata Workout

If you’re ready to try some Tabata, this 20-minute workout from Maximuscle training expert Dan Lambert that targets muscles all over the body is a great place to start.

“When I use Tabata I like to bounce between two compound exercises – one upper body and one lower body – to increase heart rate, distribute blood around the whole body and increase lactate production in the large muscle groups,” says Lambert.

Complete 20 seconds of exercise A, rest for ten seconds, then complete 20 seconds of exercise B and rest for ten seconds. Repeat this pattern four times for one full Tabata and then move on to the next pair of exercises. Complete five rounds with five different pairs of exercises in total.

1A Burpee

Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Drop and place your hands on the floor just outside of your feet. Keeping your core engaged, quickly jump your feet back so you end up in the press-up position, then jump your feet back to between your hands. Jump up explosively and clap your hands overhead.

1B Heavy medicine ball slam

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart with a heavy medicine ball between and slightly in front of your feet. Squat down to pick up the medicine ball, keeping your back straight and holding the medicine ball at the sides so your palms are facing each other. Return to standing, then bring the ball above your head. Squeeze your glutes for extra force and, hinging at the hips, slam the ball into the ground with all your might.

2A Weighted walking lunge

Hold a dumbbell in each hand by your sides with palms facing inward. Keeping your back straight and chest up, step forwards and slowly lower your body until your knees are bent at 90°, keeping your torso upright. Hold this position for 1-2sec and squeeze your glutes. Step forwards with the other foot and repeat the move. Ensure your knees don’t go too far forwards beyond your toes because this can damage the joint.

2B Dumbbell thruster

Hold a dumbbell in each hand above your shoulders with palms facing inward (a neutral grip). Squat down until your hamstrings are parallel to the floor, keeping your back straight and the dumbbells in position. Push through your heels to return to standing and press the dumbbells overhead.

3A Press-up

Assume a face-down position on a gym mat. Place your hands on the floor in line with your shoulders but slightly more than shoulder-width apart. Without flaring your elbows outward, lower your body until your chest is almost touching the floor, then press back up to the start, again without flaring your elbows. Keep your glutes squeezed and your hips in line with your torso and shoulders.

3B Jump squat

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and place your hands behind your head. Squat down until your legs are parallel with the floor, squeezing your glutes at the bottom. Explode back up and off the ground by driving through your heels. Keep your chest elevated and back straight throughout.

4A Assisted pull-up

This can be performed either on an machine-assisted station or with a strong resistance band tied around a pull-up bar. Hold the pull-up bar with a overhand (pronated) grip just wider than shoulder-width. Place both knees on the seat or band until your body is at full length. Contract your lats and pull your body up until your chin reaches the level of the bar.

4B Kettlebell swing

Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Hold a kettlebell in front of you with both hands using an overhand grip. Hinge at your hip, bringing your glutes back while keeping the back straight. Explode forward to swing the kettlebell up until it reaches chest height, keeping your arms outstretched.

5A Renegade row with press-up

Adopt the top press-up position, gripping two dumbbells that are resting on the floor. Perform a press-up, then lift one dumbbell straight up into your midriff, lower it and then row the other dumbbell up in a similar fashion, ensuring your hips remain in line with your torso.

5B Mountain climber

Start in a top press-up position. Bring one knee towards your chest, then as that leg returns to the start position bring the other knee up towards your chest. Repeat this movement pattern pattern as quickly as possible. Ensure your core is engaged to keep your balance


20-Minute Bodyweight Tabata Workout

If you’re keen to give Tabata a go but don’t have the equipment needed for the workout above then try this bodyweight session from Ben Leonard-Kane, the founder of fitness studio Flykick, instead. The 20-minute workout hits muscles all over the body, and although you don’t need weights for it you should now have learned enough about Tabata to know that it’s not going to be easy.

After a warm-up the workout moves through four four-minute circuits following the Tabata protocol, with each set focusing on a different area. Circuit 1 targets the lower body with jump lunges and prisoner squat jumps, and circuit 2 the upper with dips and press-ups. Circuit 3 is all about ramping up your heart rate with burpees and high knees to work on your cardiovascular fitness, while circuit 4 hits the core, using a V-sit and single-leg jackknife combo.

It’s a simple but brutally effective season you can do almost anywhere (anywhere you won’t disturb the people downstairs with four minutes of jumping, that is), so next time you have 20 minutes and energy to spare, make sure to give it a go.

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.

Tabata workout – no equipment needed!

Tabata exercises

Tabata is a form of HIIT (high-intensity interval training) named after Japanese scientist Dr Izumi Tabata, who found that short, vigorous workouts had big effects on losing weight and building muscle. His plan is genius – it lasts from just four minutes, combining cardio and resistance training. The structure is: do any exercise as hard as you can for 20 seconds; and rest for 10 seconds then repeat.

What you need
You don’t need specific equipment for Tabata training, but if you have a skipping rope, dumbbells, a barbell, a sturdy step, a punching bag or gloves, then use them. Otherwise, heavy bottles of water can work too.

The plan
A four-minute Tabata workout includes eight rounds of any one exercise, so choose one of these, or a few to mix it up. As you get fitter, work up to 24 rounds, which will still be a short 12-minute workout. Since Tabata is high-intensity exercise, you need a good base level of fitness to start. Off you go!

1. Step-up with bicep curl

Want to work your arms and legs at the same time? This is the move for you.

How-to: Stand behind a sturdy bench, step or stair with a dumbbell in each hand. Leading with your heel, step up with your left leg and keep your whole foot on the step. Bring your right foot up to meet the left as you curl the dumbbells up. Then straighten your arms as you step down. Swap the lead leg and repeat.

2. Skipping

For a full-body cardio workout, skipping is a winner.

How-to: Jump 3-5cm off the floor, leaving just enough space between your feet and the floor for the rope to slip under. Keep your elbows close to your sides as you turn the rope and make sure the movement comes from your wrists and forearms rather than your shoulders.

3. Lunge with bicep curl

Work your legs and arms with this exercise.

How-to: Holding dumbbells at your sides, step your right foot forward and bend your knees until your right thigh is almost parallel to the floor and your left knee is almost touching the floor. As you lunge down, curl the weights up towards your chest. Return to the start position and repeat on the other side.

4. Lunge with shoulder press

This works your lower body and upper body, including your shoulders and arms.

How-to: Stand up straight with your feet together, holding a barbell just above your shoulders. Step your left foot forward, bending your knee so it’s stacked over your ankle. At the same time, press the barbell over your shoulders, without leaning or bending at the waist. Lower the barbell back to the start position as you bring your left foot back to meet your right foot. Repeat on the other side.

5. Boxing

Build strength in your core and strengthen your arms with a simple boxing move.

How-to: Stand with your left foot in front of your right. Punch your left arm forward – at a punching bag if you have one – as powerfully as you can, keeping your hips facing forward, then punch with your right fist. Pivot on the ball of your right foot as you punch. Do one set with one leg forward. Then swap legs.

15 Fat Burning Workouts – Tabata for Beginners

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If you are tired of the same old fat burning workouts that take a lot of time, then you may want to consider High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT. These types of workouts are one of the most effective types of exercise that you can do. They typically work several parts of your body in a very short amount of time.

One type of HIIT workout that can save a ton of time, will work your entire body, and does not require a gym membership or expensive equipment is known as Tabata.

For those who are new to HIIT workouts or want to learn more, we have included a list of 15 Tabata for beginners workouts that will leave you sweating.

No matter your fitness level, there are tons of exercises and routines to pick from to get started.

What is Tabata?

Tabata is a High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workout that lasts a total of 4 minutes. Who doesn’t have 4 minutes in their day to workout?

The name Tabata comes from a Japanese researcher, Dr. Izumi Tabata. He conducted many different studies comparing long periods of cardio training versus short periods of high impact interval training.

His research results concluded the high intensity training was much more effective and required much less time compared to long periods of cardio. This research goes against most of what we have been taught about cardio.

These workouts are short, maxed out exercise focused on interval training. A typical Tabata workout would include a combination of 4 different exercises such as – push ups, lunges, squats, high knees, jumping jacks, etc.

The exercises are to be performed one at a time for 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds of rest. These 4 exercises only take 2 minutes to complete 1 full Tabata cycle for 2 minutes.

A full Tabata workout is 2 full cycles (each exercise repeated twice) for a total of 4 minutes.

Tabata for Beginners: 15 Fat Burning Workouts

Here are 15 fat burning workouts for beginners that are all under 30 minutes.

Not every workout listed below follows a true Tabata format of 4 minutes. However, each is geared towards High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and will replace that boring and harmful cardio workout you have grown accustomed to.

Feel free to switch up the exercises in any of these workouts based on your fitness level. For example, if you are not ready for a regular push up … then start with a modified knee push up.

If you are only ready for a short workout, then start with one of the many 4 minute Tabata’s listed below. Those who are more advanced may want to start with a longer workout or could add additional cycles to their routine.

Also, please keep in mind that even though these workouts are all geared towards beginners, they still require you be in decent shape. If you have any questions about completing high intensity training, please consult with your doctor.

Take advantage of the time savings, fat burning potential, and way flexible Tabata workouts!

1. Low Impact Beginners HIIT Workout

By The Body Coach

A perfect low impact HIIT workout that doesn’t require any equipment and is perfect for beginners. This routine follows the standard Tabata format of exercising for 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds of rest.

This HIIT workout is a bit different than typical interval training routines that you may be used to. You start with one exercise and repeat it 4 times in a row with the 20/10 format. Each time the exercise is repeated, it should be at a higher intensity.

  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Focus: total body
  • Length: 22+ minutes
  • Equipment: none
  • Exercises: squat elbow touches, knee push up taps, power knees, straight punches, and more!

2. 4 Minute Rainy Day Tabata Workout

By 12 Minute Athlete

Don’t have a lot of time in your day to workout? Or maybe you are just starting out with Tabata style workouts and want to “ease” into them?

Well in either case … this 4-minute “rainy day” Tabata workout is a perfect place to start. No, that isn’t a typo – this workout actually only takes 4 minutes to complete but will leave you sweating by the end.

There is no equipment required for this Tabata and is perfect for any room inside your home or even a hotel room. Feel free to swap out different exercises from time to time to work different parts of the body.

  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Focus: total body workout
  • Length: 4 minutes
  • Equipment: none
  • Exercises: high knees, burpee, burpee tuck jump, and mountain climbers

3. Beginner Cardio Sweat

By SugarySixPack

Not a true Tabata workout, but this beginner cardio circuit workout will certainly get your heart pumping. The workout routine consists of 5 different exercises for a total of 4 rounds … and no you don’t even have to run!

The Beginner Cardio Sweat intervals consists of 30 seconds of exercise followed by 20 seconds of rest for a total workout time of 17 minutes. Not too much time out of your day!

  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Focus: cardio
  • Length: 17 minutes
  • Equipment: none
  • Exercises: star hop, front taps, butt kicks, press jacks, twist & reach

4. HIIT for Beginners

By Jessica Smith TV

This HIIT for beginners workout is low impact and focuses on interval walking exercises. The format of this routine is 3 minutes of steady to moderate exercise, followed by 1 minute of high intensity.

If you are just starting out and looking for a fat burning workout, this may be the perfect exercise video for you!

  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Focus: cardio
  • Length: 25 minutes
  • Equipment: none
  • Exercises: various walking exercises

5. Quick and Intense HIIT Workout

By Fitness Blender

This total body HIIT workout is intense but will take less than 14 minutes to complete. The workout format uses the popular Tabata timing of 20 seconds activity followed by 10 seconds of rest.

There is no equipment required for this workout, which relies only on body weight making it perfect for home or while traveling.

  • Difficulty: Intermediate – Advanced
  • Focus: total body workout
  • Length: 14 minutes
  • Equipment: none
  • Exercises: high knees, burpee, jumping lunge, side lunge, plank jack, pop squats, squat jacks, jumping jacks, and more!

6. The Full Body Tabata Workout

By John’s 6 Pack

Yes, we have developed our own Tabata workouts here on John’s 6 Pack!

This 18 minute routine is a great beginner workout that focuses on 4 basic (and very common) exercises. It works the upper body (push up), core (burpee), and lower body (lunge & squat).

  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Focus: total body workout
  • Length: 18 minutes
  • Equipment: none
  • Exercises: push up, lunge, burpee, squat

Sorry, no video yet! But we hope to film them sometime in the future. In the meantime, you will need a Tabata timer to help you keep track of the workout.

Set your timer for the following –

Repeat the following exercises for 1 full cycle –

  • 20 seconds – push ups
  • 10 seconds – rest
  • 20 seconds – lunges
  • 10 seconds – rest
  • 20 seconds – burpees
  • 10 seconds – rest
  • 20 seconds – squats

Feel free to increase or lower the number of cycles to fit your exercise level.

7. Beginner’s 4-Minute Fat Blaster Workout

By Skinny Ms

This is a perfect beginner HIIT style workout that lasts only 4 minutes and really focuses on the upper body. The workout does require a set of lightweight dumbbells (3 to 5 pounds) for a couple of the exercises.

You only need to perform 2 cycles (2 minutes each) of 4 exercises that only last 30 seconds each. Just make sure to give it your maximum effort while you are exercising!

  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Focus: fat burning
  • Length: 5 minutes
  • Equipment: dumbbells
  • Exercises: high knees, beginner push ups, dumbbell punches, dumbbell shoulder press

8. 12-Minute Upper Body HIIT Workout

By Nicole Perry

This 12 minute HIIT style workout focuses on the upper body with a little core work added in. It follows the standard Tabata format with 20 seconds of exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest.

The fat burning workout consists of 3 Tabata cycles, which each consist of 2 different exercises. It is a great routine that doesn’t take up much time in your day and can be completed from anywhere.

This workout is a little more difficult than some of the others found on the list. Upper body exercises like the low push up hold and the crab kicks are a little more advanced.

If you still want to try this workout but can’t complete the full 3 Tabata cycles, then shoot for 2 (8 minutes) or even 1 (4 minutes) to get started.

  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Focus: upper body and core
  • Length: 12 minutes
  • Equipment: none
  • Exercises: burpee, low push up hold, triceps dips, crab kicks, shoulder tap push ups, marching plank

9. 15 minute Fat Burning HIIT Workout

By Heather Robertson

The format of this fat burning workout is a bit different than a normal Tabata routine. Instead of 20 seconds exercise and 10 seconds rest … this workout steps it up with 40 seconds of exercise followed by 20 seconds of rest.

A total of 5 exercises make up 1 cycle (5 minutes for 1 cycle) with the entire workout consisting of 3 full cycles (15 minutes total).

If you are looking for a great lower body workout that will get the blood pumping, then give this 15 minute high intensity workout a try!

  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Focus: lower body
  • Length: 15 minutes
  • Equipment: none
  • Exercises: squat twists, mountain climber, side lunge hop, high knee butt kicks, jump lunges

10. Low Impact Lower Body and Core Tabata Workout

By Fitness Blender

If you are looking for a lower body workout, then this video may be for you! All the exercises are low impact, which means it is better on the joints.

Just because there isn’t much cardio in this workout, doesn’t mean you want work up a sweat and get your heart rate going. In this fat burning workout, you will be exercising large muscles in the legs, which means you will be sweating!

  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Focus: lower body
  • Length: 32 minutes
  • Equipment: none
  • Exercises: side step squat, hip raises, 20 second squat, dead lift, front leg raises, side leg raises, side lunge, sumo squat, and more!

11. Absolute Beginners HIIT Workout

By The Body Coach

This workout has a bit of a twist when it comes to interval training. You will exercise at maximum effort for 30 seconds, then rest for 30 seconds for 5 different exercises which equals one full cycle.

The entire workout consists of 4 rounds of these 5 exercises for a total of 20 minutes. Make sure to give 100% effort during the exercise portion of this workout to get maximum benefits. And of course be ready to sweat in this full body workout!

  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Focus: total body workout
  • Length: 22 minutes
  • Equipment: none
  • Exercises: marching high knees, punches then shuffle, squats, high knee should press, power knees

12. Tabata Full Body Workout


This workout starts out with a brief 1-minute warmup followed by 2 different sets of high-intensity training for 4 minutes each. That is 8 minutes of maxed out exercising which is then followed by a 1-minute cool down.

The Tabata Full Body Workout by POPSUGAR follows the traditional format of 20 seconds of max training followed by a 10 second rest. The only difference is a total of 8 rounds (instead of 4).

Each Tabata set consists of 2 different exercises that will leave you sweating by the end and a full body workout.

  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Focus: total body workout
  • Length: 10 minutes
  • Equipment: none
  • Exercises: skaters, push up, squat jump, grasshoppers

13. Tabata Workout – Flat Belly in 4 Minutes

By BexLife

Everyone wants a six-pack! Am I right? Following this flat belly Tabata workout can get you one step closer to those awesome abs you have always wanted.

This ab workout consists of 4 different exercises and follows the 20 seconds of exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest format. You do each exercise twice for a total of 4 minutes. This is perfect for those with little time in their day that want to work their core!

  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Focus: abs/core
  • Length: 4 minutes
  • Equipment:
  • Exercises: high knees, squat jumps, squat thrust mountain climbers, knee grabs

14. Tabata – Legs & Butt – Ultimate 4 Minute Workout

By Lindsay Jay

Here is another workout that follows the standard Tabata 4 minute routine that focuses on the lower body … specifically legs and butt.

There are only 2 exercises in this workout but you certainly will be feeling sore when your done. Just remember to give it 100% effort when doing the workout … it is only 4 minutes afterall!

  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Focus: lower body
  • Length: 4 minutes
  • Equipment:
  • Exercises: alternating lunge, cat walk

15. Burn Fat In 4 Minutes – Tabata Workout

By Live Lean TV

First of all, the beach location for this video should be enough to get you motivated to get a workout in. And … since it is only a 4 minute workout … there is zero excuse for not giving it a try.

This fat burning workout is a perfect example of a traditional style of Tabata intervals. You workout for 20 seconds, followed by a 10 second rest for each of the exercises.

  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Focus: total body
  • Length: 4 minutes
  • Equipment: none
  • Exercises: jump lunges, jump squats, burpees, push ups

Tabata Workouts for Beginners

As you have probably already figured out, there are tons of great Tabata Workouts available … even for beginners!

You can even create your own high intensity interval training routines that follow a Tabata format. There are so many exercises that you can include like: push ups, mountain climbers, high knees, squats, lunges, burpees, and many more!

With so many different exercises and formats available, there is little chance for getting bored and you will be able to work your entire body.

These are some of the best fat burning workouts that are available to you and they don’t take up much time in your day! How awesome is that?

Have you tried any of the fat burning workouts listed? What about others that you would recommend?



If you are looking for high intensity workout in a short amount of time then Tabata workouts are perfect for you! It only takes 4 minutes of full effort interval training. The training method was invented by Izumi Tabata, a japanese physician and researcher. There are many different forms of interval training, but the simplicity and effectiveness of Tabata workouts have made them widespread and popular. They will raise your metabolism and heart rate as the body needs to work hard to maintain the intensity throughout each workout. They will also help your body to burn fat for hours after the workout has finished as well.


  • You exercise for 20 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds.
  • The workout will consist out of one, two or even four different exercises.
  • There will be several rounds in total, which add up to 4 minutes in total.

A short warm up, the 4 minute Tabata workout and a cool down form a full training session in just about 20 minutes. Tabata workouts also improves your endurance, but it is required that you are testing your limits so don’t go easy at any point!

Train hard



  • 20 seconds sprint
  • 10 seconds rest
  • (repeat 8 times)

Traditional Tabata workouts consist of only two exercises, like in this first example. But the monotonous repetition can get boring if you do the workout several times, so there are also workouts with two or four different exercises combined to keep things interesting:


  • 20 seconds push ups
  • 10 seconds rest
  • 20 seconds squats
  • 10 seconds rest
  • 20 seconds medicine ball slams
  • 10 seconds rest
  • 20 seconds skipping (if you can manage double unders then do these instead)
  • 10 seconds rest
  • (repeat twice)

Double unders during the workout

© RX’d Photography


  • 20 sec squats
  • 10 sec rest
  • 20 sec pull ups
  • 10 sec rest
  • (repeat 4 times)


  • 20 sec burpees
  • 10 sec rest
  • 20 sec box jumps
  • 10 sec rest
  • 20 sec push ups
  • 10 sec rest
  • 20 sec mountain climbers
  • 10 sec rest
  • (repeat twice)


  • 20 sec mountain climbers
  • 10 sec rest
  • 20 sec jumping jacks
  • 10 sec rest
  • 20 sec burpees
  • 10 sec rest
  • 20 sec rope skipping (if you can manage double unders then do these instead)
  • 10 sec rest
  • (repeat twice)

Everyone loves burpees!

© RX’d Photography


  • 20 sec push ups
  • 10 sec rest
  • 20 sec air squats
  • 10 sec rest
  • (repeat 4 times)


  • 20 sec push ups
  • 10 sec rest
  • 20 sec mountain climbers
  • 10 sec rest
  • (repeat 4 times)


  • 20 sec high knees
  • 10 sec rest
  • 20 sec jumping jacks
  • 10 sec rest
  • (repeat 4 times)

If the Tabata workout is not the only part of your training, you should do it at the end, because it requires your whole physical and mental strength. If you get used to these workouts, or want something new, you can easily create your own! Just combine the exercises in a pair of two or four (for example mountain climbers, burpees, deadlifts and sprints) and repeat for a 4 minute duration.

For more workouts, check out this article:

10 Crossfit AMRAP Workouts for Athletes of All Levels

And here is some inspiration to get you motivated.

Mini Tabata WOD

If you’re not familiar with Tabata training, the interval-based protocol involves working as hard as you can on any given exercise for 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds of rest, usually repeated for 8 rounds. (That’s only four minutes of work!) Tabata is a type of High Intensity Interval Training; a study from the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Japan found that the 20 seconds on/10 off training method improves cardiovascular fitness by working both aerobic and anaerobic systems (read: major calorie blast).

For this WOD we did four exercises and condensed the workout to only four rounds each since we were short on time, meaning our entire workout took only 8 minutes! To replicate our WOD:

Exercise 1

Squats – perform as many bodyweight, “air” squats as possible for 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds of rest for four rounds. Try to perform the same number of squats you did in the first round throughout each round. To make it even more difficult, try the bottom-to-bottom version which means you hold the bottom of an air squat during the 10 seconds of rest.

Exercise 2

Burpees – the exercise we love to hate! (Seriously, I Tweeted that it’s my least favorite exercise and everyone chimed in with the same sentiments.) To do a burpee, start in a standing position, jump into the top of a plank position, bend your elbows to bring your chest to the floor. Jump your feet forward to your arms and stand up, adding a jump once you’re upright. Perform as many burpees as possible for 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds of rest for four rounds.

Exercise 3

Knees to Elbows (modified) – typically when you’re at a CrossFit “box” (lingo for gym) and the WOD calls for knees to elbows (KTE), you’ll be dangling off a pullup bar and literally bring your knees to your elbows (hello, six-pack abs). But since we were outside on a track we modified the KTE: stand upright with arms extended at each side, bent to 90 degrees so the palms are facing forward, fingers point upwards. Raise your right knee to 90 degrees while simultaneously twisting your torso so that your left elbow meets your right knee and switch sides. Perform as many KTE twists as possible for 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds of rest for four rounds.

Exercise 4

Suicide Runs – Just like high school gym class, suicide runs are a great way to tax the cardiovascular system while working on agility. Run as fast as you can for a set distance (we used about 20 feet) and touch the ground when you reach the mark. Run back to your starting position and touch the ground. Repeat for as many times as possible in 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds of rest for four rounds.

*Note, perform all four rounds of each exercise before moving onto the next one.

For more about CrossFit, be sure to pick up SELF’s October issue on newsstands now!

Related Links:

  • Sculpt A Sizzling Core With This Flat Ab Workout
  • The Fountain Of Youth Workout
  • The Energy Boosters A-Listers Rely On

Image Credit: Photo of “Squat” by Nicola Majocchi

What if I told you a 20-minute workout could give you better results than 60 minutes on the treadmill? Welcome to Tabata training! By now, you’ve probably heard the word “Tabata,” but you might not really know what that means. Tabata is a form of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) that’s been proven to torch serious calories quickly.

In a Tabata workout, each round lasts four minutes. It requires 20 seconds of all out intensity, followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeated eight times. And when I say “all out,” I mean ALL OUT. We’re talking about 100-percent max effort for every burpee, tuck jump, and mountain climber. It’s worth pushing yourself though, because that’s how you get such a stellar workout in such a short amount of time. Plus, it’s not for long—you can do anything for 20 seconds.

Now that you’re ready to kick your workout into high gear, these Tabata exercises will boost your metabolism and get you fitter faster.

Time: 20 minutes

Equipment: Resistance band

Good for: Total body

Instructions: Choose five moves below. Do each move for 20 seconds at maximum effort, resting for 10 seconds in between. Repeat for a total of eight rounds. Once you’ve completed all rounds of one Tabata exercise, rest for one minute, then continue to the next move.

1. High Knees

How to: Start standing. Run in place, driving knees towards chest. Use arms and try and go as fast as you can (note: the trainer demo-ing this exercise is moving slowly to exhibit proper form). Complete as many reps as possible in 20 seconds at maximum effort, followed by 10 seconds of rest. Repeat eight times. Rest for one minute then continue on to the next move.

2. Sprawl

How to: Start in a plank position, then jump feet towards hands, dropping butt below knees and lifting torso up and raising hands to chest level. Jump feet back to plank position. That’s one rep. Complete as many reps as possible in 20 seconds at maximum effort, followed by 10 seconds of rest. Repeat eight times. Rest for one minute then continue on to the next move.

3. Skaters

How to: Start standing, feet hip-distance apart. Jump to the right, landing on right foot and bringing your left leg behind body. Jump to the left, landing on left foot and bringing right foot behind body. That’s one rep. Complete as many reps as possible in 20 seconds at maximum effort, followed by 10 seconds of rest. Repeat eight times. Rest for one minute then continue on to the next move.

4. Knee Tuck To Pushup

How to: Start in a plank position. Jump knees between hands (or place sliders under feet, and pull knees forward in line with hands). Return feet to plank position. Slowly bend elbows and lower into a pushup. That’s one rep. Complete as many reps as possible in 20 seconds at maximum effort, followed by 10 seconds of rest. Repeat eight times. Rest for one minute then continue on to the next move.

5. Tuck Jumps

How to: Start standing. Jump straight up, tucking knees to your chest. Land softly, and immediately repeat that move. That’s one rep. Complete 20 seconds at maximum effort, followed by 10 seconds of rest. Repeat eight times. Rest for one minute.

6. Mountain Climbers

How to: Start in a plank position. Drive your knees toward chest, one at a time, as quick as you can. That’s one rep. Complete as many reps as possible in 20 seconds at maximum effort, followed by 10 seconds of rest. Repeat eight times. Rest for one minute then continue on to the next move.

7. Squat Jump

How to: Start in a standing position with feet shoulder width apart, toes pointed forward, and weight in heels. Lower down into a squat, and then drive through heels to reverse movement and jump up as high as possible. Land softly back into the squat position. That’s one rep. Complete as many reps as possible in 20 seconds at maximum effort, followed by 10 seconds of rest. Repeat eight times. Rest for one minute then continue on to the next move.

8. Burpees

How to: Start standing. Squat down to plant palms on mat and jump feet back into a plank position. Perform a push-up, then jump feet toward hands. Push down through heels to rise up and jump into the air, bringing hands over head. Land softly back on mat. That’s one rep. Complete as many reps as possible in 20 seconds at maximum effort, followed by 10 seconds of rest. Repeat eight times. Rest for one minute then continue on to the next move.

The Research-Approved 20-Minute Tabata Workout


With the notion of boosting fitness in just four short minutes, it’s no surprise that Tabata training is all the buzz. What originally began as a high-intensity interval training protocol performed on a cycling ergometer by Japanese Olympic speed skaters has now morphed into workouts that combine everything from plyometrics to traditional resistance training exercises using the same format: eight cycles of 20 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of rest. To investigate the benefits of this intense type of training, the American Council on Exercise® (ACE) enlisted the research team at the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse to examine the true calorie-burning potential of a total-body Tabata session.

In the study, 16 moderately fit to very fit men and women completed two 20-minute Tabata workouts. Each workout consisted of a five-minute warm-up followed by four rounds of Tabata (eight cycles of 20 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest) with one minute of rest between each round, and then a 10-minute cool-down. During the 20 seconds of intense work, subjects performed as many repetitions as possible of each exercise, all of which were movements they had practiced beforehand and demonstrated proficiency in.

RELATED: 10 New Fat-Blasting Tabata Workouts

Researchers found that during the workout subjects averaged 86 percent of their maximum heart rates and 74 percent of their VO2maxes, measures that meet or exceed industry guidelines for improving cardio fitness and body composition. On the Borg Scale of 6 to 20, the participants gave the sweat sesh a 15.4 rating of perceived exertion (RPE)-i.e. “hard”-and burned 240 to 360 calories. With an average of 15 calories torched a minute, the findings of this study support that total-body Tabata-style workouts can prove powerful in terms of enhancing health and facilitating weight loss.

This time-efficient approach to exercise is all about intensity, so while just four minutes of hard work can prove helpful in terms of enhancing health and fitness, the complete 20-minute workout can elicit even better results while still easily fitting into a busy schedule. Talisa Emberts, one of the lead researchers, recommends doing Tabata two to three times a week, allowing at least 48 to 72 hours of rest between each session since you’ll be working every major muscle group during each workout.

RELATED: Home Tabata Workout: Blast Fat in 4 Minutes

Ready to try it yourself? Here’s the 20-minute workout protocol from the ACE Tabata study. A set of each exercise is defined as 20 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of rest. Do two sets of each exercise (so each round will last four minutes). Be sure to also allow for one full minute of rest following each of the four rounds.

Round 1

High knees

Plank punches

Jumping jacks

Side skaters

Round 2

Jump rope

High/low boat

Line jumps


Round 3


Russian twists



Round 4

Mountain climbers


Split squats

Box jumps

  • By Jessica Matthews

20-Minute Bodyweight Tabata Workout with Vital Proteins

It’s tabata time! This effective 20-Minute Bodyweight Tabata Workout mixes HIIT cardio intervals with strength and core training; it’s all bodyweight which makes this the perfect traveling workout.

It’s time to kick things up a notch. I’m three and half months postpartum and finally starting to feel like myself again {yay}! Which means, it’s tabata time.

This 20-Minute Bodyweight Tabata Workout is no joke. It’s a true tabata workout where the HIIT intervals are so challenging that by the end of the 20 second interval you are failing and in much need of the 10 second recovery. It’s probably the hardest workout I’ve done post-Brody. I mean, have you ever tried doing squat jumps for 4 minutes straight?!

Which is why this workout also comes with a some awesome modifications {see the video and images below for all exercises and modifications}.

My favorite part is that this workout is all done with just your bodyweight, making it the perfect traveling workout. So if you’re in need of a quick, yet very challenging, 20-Minute Bodyweight workout that you can do anywhere, anytime this is it!

Speaking of traveling, I’ve teamed up with Vital Proteins to share my favorite collagen product that travels with me everywhere —>>> Beauty Water! This is a brand new product for Vital Proteins and it comes in three very refreshing flavors — Lavender Lemon, Cucumber Aloe, and Melon Mint. Learn more about why I love Vital Proteins Beauty Water below!

If you’re having trouble viewing this Bodyweight Tabata Workout, try turning off or pausing your ad-blocker. If you prefer, you can view this video on Youtube here.

the workout: 20-Minute Bodyweight Tabata Workout

This challenging 20-minute bodyweight tabata workout consists of four, 4-minute tabata intervals and four, 1-minute core strength exercises. Perform each tabata interval exercise for 20 seconds followed by a 10 second recovery; repeated for 4-minutes. Perform each 1-minute core strength exercise for the entire minute.

No equipment required, just your bodyweight making this the perfect workout for traveling.

Tabata Interval #1 {8 Tabata Intervals / 20 Sec On / 10 Sec Recovery / 4 Minutes Total}: Squat Jumps {modification 2 air squats + 1 squat jump}

Strength Interval #1 {One Minute}: Push Up + Kick Through {modification modified push up on knees + knee tap}

Tabata Interval #2 {8 Tabata Intervals / 20 Sec On / 10 Sec Recovery / 4 Minutes Total}: Split Jumps {modification 2 pulse lunge + 1 split jump}

Strength Interval #2 {One Minute}: Side-to-Side Plank

Tabata Interval #3 {8 Tabata Intervals / 20 Sec On / 10 Sec Recovery / 4 Minutes Total}: 2 Air Squats + 1 Squat Jump

Strength Interval #3 {One Minute}: Push Up + Kick Through OR Modified Push Up + Knee Tap

Tabata Interval #4 {8 Tabata Intervals / 20 Sec On / 10 Sec Recovery / 4 Minutes Total}: 2 Pulse Lunge + 1 Split Jump

Strength Interval #4 {One Minute}: Side-to-Side Plank

see video above for complete workout and proper exercise form.

Squat Jumps

Push Up + Kick Through

Split Jumps

Side-to-Side Plank

2 Air Squats + 1 Squat Jump

2 Pulse Lunge + 1 Split Jump

vital proteins new collagen beauty water

You know when you try a new product that you love and you want to tell all your friends about it?! That’s how I feel about Vital Proteins new Beauty Water!

If you’ve been following NML for any amount of time you know that I love Vital Proteins Collagen. And I’m even more in love as they’ve taken my favorite product, collagen peptides, and made it into a refreshing, spa-like, Beauty Water elixir!

A blend of collagen, hyaluronic acid, and probiotics in deliciously subtle and refreshing flavors:

  • Lavender Lemon
  • Cucumber Aloe
  • Melon Mint

This powdered elixir is great for collagen lovers who are looking for a convenient and light-tasting blend for glowing skin and beauty both inside and out. It comes in 10 oz canisters or my personal favorite, on-the-go, pre-portioned stick packs.

I always have a couple beauty water stick packs in my purse, gym, and pump bag. I simply add the powder to some water and enjoy as a early morning pre-workout, post-workout refresher, or just mid-day pick me up when I need something more than just plain water.

Not only is it a great way to hydrate {which I’ve found key to keeping my milk supply up}, but it also supports the health of hair, skin and nails. I still haven’t had the ‘postpartum hair loss’ everyone talks about, and I’m hoping sipping Beauty Water will keep it that way!

this workout is a sponsored post in partnership with vital proteins and does include affiliate links. all words and opinions are my own. thank you for supporting the brands that make nourish move love and all the content you see on this blog possible.

What You Should Know Before Starting Tabata

Both trainers emphasized that Tabata is tough — so if you’re new to working out, you should probably work to improve your endurance before trying it. “If you’re not willing to give near maximum effort for that 20 seconds, then you won’t elicit the many benefits that produces,” Kyle said.

Once you feel ready to give it a shot, Kyle recommends easing in, rather than signing up for five classes in a week right off the bat. “Tabata training is very taxing on your body, as you’re expected to continuously put up 100 percent effort, and some people just aren’t physically prepared for that,” he explained. Try taking no more than two classes per week at the beginning and three per week after you’ve done the workout for some time.

Alex told POPSUGAR that staying hydrated before, during, and after a Tabata workout is a must. He said it’s also important to understand that your heart rate will be up throughout the entire session, so you should make sure you’re working at your own pace. “If you have to skip a round to catch your breath, that’s OK,” Alex said. “A proper warmup and cooldown is a must as well, as you want to avoid any potential injuries.”

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Matthew Kelly

Have you ever used a calorie counter or tracker to see how many calories your workout just burned or how many calories you just ate? Many of us have.

Nutrition accounts for around 80%, but it’s not all about counting calories. Reaching your fitness goals is about moving more and eating more nutritious foods, not just calories in vs. calories out.

Here are a few things to keep in mind if you want to start tracking your calorie intake or calorie burn.

Food labels can be off by 30%

Most calorie calculators and food labels will show you the average calories contained in food. However, depending on the country, brand and portion size, calories may vary. For instance, if you’ve ever wondered how many calories are in a banana, one calorie calculator might list 90 calories while another says 120 calories — that’s a pretty significant difference.

HIIT workouts can burn more calories than your counter says

A calorie tracker may tell you that a 15-minute Tabata session burns around 150 calories. This might be a correct calculation of calories burned during the 15 minutes, but it doesn’t account for the extra calories burned after the workout. During HIIT (high-intensity interval training) sessions like Tabata or timed intervals, your body is left with an oxygen deficit (that out-of-breath feeling at the end of an intense session). To reclaim this oxygen, your body has to work extra hard over the next 24-48 hours. This results in a higher metabolic rate and thus more calories burned over the next 24 hours. In the end, the Tabata session can burn almost 450 calories in total. Not many calorie counters will account those post-workout calories burned.

Hormones can make you gain weight

Another thing to consider when counting calories is your hormones. Different foods produce different hormonal responses in the body. For example, too much sugar eaten without the proper balance of fiber, fat, and protein causes a spike in the hormone, insulin. This interrupts the metabolic process of fat and makes it more likely that consumed food is stored as fat rather than burned. To put this simply, 100 calories from sugar might make you gain fat but 100 calories from nuts might help you to reach your goal.

There’s no way for your calorie counter to take hormones into account unless it has a very comprehensive idea of what your food is made of. This is why we suggest ditching the calorie counter and focusing on the quality of the foods you eat. Nourish your body with healthy, wholesome foods and pay less attention to calorie totals.

We absorb more calories from processed foods than whole foods

Whole foods like fruits or whole grains typically contain more fiber than processed foods like juice or white flour. Fiber counts as carbs and is taken into account when calculating calories. However, not all carbs are absorbed by the body. Carbs from fiber are indigestible carbs, meaning the body doesn’t absorb those calories.

For example, 100 grams of chia seeds contain 40 grams fiber. The fiber is included in the calories on the food label, but aren’t absorbed by the body. Therefore, a calorie calculator shows 467 calories for 100 grams chia seeds but your body only absorbs around 2/3 of that amount, which is approximately 310 calories.

Gut bacteria and calorie-absorption

Ever wonder why one person can stay lean while eating 2,000 calories, while another person gains weight? Our microbiome is essential for digesting food. Each person or animal has microorganisms that take care of a variety of duties in our bodies, but each of us has a unique set of these microorganisms. Some might be more helpful when digesting certain types of food than others. Studies found that transplanting the gut bacteria of obese mice into lean mice caused the lean mice to gain fat cells quickly.

This shows the impact these microorganisms can have. One person may have a microbiome that helps them break down and absorb food much more efficiently than another person. This can have a big impact on the number of calories we actually absorb from food.

The preparation method matters

How many calories we absorb from food also depends on how it is prepared. For instance, we absorb more calories from a cooked carrot than from a raw one because cooking foods make calories more easily available for the body.

When we eat foods that are processed (blended or chopped into very small pieces), our organs don’t need to work as hard on reducing the size. This is why we don’t suggest replacing main meals with smoothies or shakes all day long. Processed, blended and juiced foods are absorbed quickly and easily. As a result, blood sugar rises fast and we quickly crave food again.

If you’re already putting a lot of effort into training your external system with a new exercise routine, don’t forget to train your internal system too. Digesting whole foods is like a workout for your organs. It keeps them – and you – healthy.

Bottom line: Counting calories is stressful

Counting and tracking every calorie you put in your body is stressful. Oftentimes, it becomes an obsessive, unhealthy behavior and doesn’t always lead to weight loss. This is because when the stress hormone cortisol is elevated long term, we burn less fat.

Even if your calorie intake looks good on paper, doesn’t mean the number on the scale will. Using a calorie calculator doesn’t mean you’ll reach your goal faster because what you track can be very different from the calories you actually absorb or burn.

Our best advice: Don’t stress out over getting every calorie count exactly right. The 8fit meal plan is designed to help you do this without actually thinking about it. It’s also fully customized to your diet needs taste preferences. Still don’t know where to go from here? Our nutrition guide can help you get started.

I can’t tell you how many times a week I get asked how many calories the 12 Minute Athlete HIIT workouts burn.

I always have a hard time responding, because the short answer is: I don’t know.

Not because the calorie burn can’t be measured at all, but because there are so many different factors to consider when trying to figure out how many calories you’re burning.

Things like:

  • How much you weigh (the more you weigh, the more calories you’ll burn)
  • Whether you’re male or female (men will burn more, but a lot of that is due to the fact that they’re just heavier)
  • How hard you work (you’ll burn more the harder you work)
  • What your fitness level is and how efficient your body is at burning fat

And so on.

So, you can see, for all of those reasons and more, it’s tough to give you guys a straight answer when you ask me about calories.

Calories and the afterburn effect

Studies have shown that high intensity workouts like the workouts on the site and in the 12 Minute Athlete app can burn upwards of 12 to 22 calories per minute, so that’s the simplest answer I could give you about calories without knowing more details about you personally.

Compare that to about 10 that you burn exercising moderately (jogging, biking, etc.), and that seems pretty awesome.

But what it doesn’t take into account is the possible afterburn effect of HIIT.

The afterburn effect refers to the amount of calories and fat that your body is able to burn post-workout. Various studies have shown that high intensity interval training can burn up to nine times more fat when compared to steady-state, low intensity cardio workouts—and increase your metabolism for up to 48 hours afterwards (moderate intensity workouts only burn calories during the actual workout, not afterwards).

Yet before you decide to work out and then sit on the couch the rest of the day thinking you’re still burning tons of calories, you have to realize that for any of that awesome calorie-burning, fat-blasting stuff to happen, you have to work really hard during your workouts.

Ideally, you’ll not only be gasping for breath at the end of your workouts, your muscles should also be burning like crazy (in fitness terms, this means you’ll be in an anaerobic state of training). This will allow you to maximize calorie burn both during and after your workouts.

Which leads me back to my original point—there’s no easy answer to how many calories you’re burning.

Stop obsessing, start living

The main thing you should know about these HIIT workouts?

They work.

When I was still early on in my fitness journey, I used to track every single bit of exercise I did. I even wore one of those BodyMedia armbands (some of the most accurate wearable calorie counters because they measure your movement as well as skin temperature, sweat, heat produced, and steps taken) so I’d know exactly how many calories I was burning through movement and exercise each day.

Yet despite my obsession about calories, I had a really hard time getting in the sort of shape I wanted to be in.

I’d spend hours exercising every day, absolutely obsessed with how many calories each treadmill and weight training session burned. But it was only when I ditched the crazy calorie counting and started focusing on mostly HIIT training and following the 80/20 rule that I was able to finally start getting leaner and get stronger and fitter than ever before.

It’s not all about the calories

I know most of us (even as personal trainers) learn that fat loss can be reduced to calories in and calories out, but that simple equation just doesn’t take everything else into account.

Because not only will the 12 Minute Athlete workouts give you a lot more time in your day to spend on things you really want to be doing, they work in other ways as well:

They help normalize your appetite. Unlike endurance training, these HIIT workouts won’t make you starving all day long. Sure, you’ll still want to eat—but as long as you focus on mostly the good stuff (protein, veggies, fruits, etc.), you’ll just be fueling your body to help it get stronger and more athletic rather than putting on fat.

They result in muscular gains. These workouts will help you gain muscle—which, in turn, will can turn lead to greater fat loss (as long as you’re not overeating a bunch). Plus, more muscle means you’ll be stronger, healthier, and more confident, all pretty awesome side effects if you ask me.

They help contribute to a better healthier lifestyle. If I had my way, you’d all stop counting calories burned through exercise right this second. Don’t get me wrong, as I explained earlier, I definitely understand the appeal—but on the whole, when people start counting their calories in (i.e. food) and calories out (i.e. activity/exercise), they tend to overestimate their activity levels, leading to a plateau or even weight gain.

Doing these workouts 3-5 times a week, getting more active in your daily life and general, and eating relatively healthy, balanced meals will all help you reach your goals faster than calorie counting will—and help you stay there longterm.

So work hard, eat well, and most of all, remember to have fun! Life is meant to be enjoyed, after all.

10 minute tabata workout

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