This Tabata Workout Targets Your Entire Body in Just 4 Minutes


You know those days when you’re feeling really good working out and want to finish things off on an especially strong note? This four-minute Tabata workout can get that job done.

Tabata is a style of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) where you perform 20 seconds of all-out work followed by 10 seconds of rest. You repeat that 30-second sequence eight times for a total of four minutes. The very specific structure of Tabata makes it different from other styles of HIIT, which can be longer or more varied, Tara Nicolas, Nike Master Trainer, certified personal trainer, and instructor at the Fhitting Room in New York City, tells SELF.

Tabata is a great way to raise your heart rate and challenge your stamina, says Nicolas, who created this full-body, four-minute Tabata workout for SELF. Tabata can also help you work on your power, she adds, since it encourages you to tackle moves at the highest intensity possible. And because the bursts of work in Tabata only last 20 seconds and the overall sequence is quite short, it’s a less intimidating, more approachable form of HIIT. After all, you’re done in just four minutes.

There are loads of ways to incorporate Tabata into your routine. As mentioned, Tabata is stellar at the end of a workout as an intense, sweaty finisher. Nicolas also loves to do Tabatas after her warm-up and before her main workout to help fire up specific muscle groups. Additionally, Tabata can serve as a standalone workout for those days when you’re strapped for time but still want to sneak in some movement. (After a solid warm-up, of course.)

You can do multiple Tabatas in one workout, but just remember that the whole point of Tabata is to give max effort for your work intervals—something that’s hard to do if you are doing a few of them. If you are doing multiple Tabatas, just be sure to give yourself ample rest between each so that you truly can give it your max effort.

This particular Tabata finisher includes four exercises—two core moves (which also really work your stabilizing muscles) and two leg-driven cardio moves—that together target your entire body, says Nicolas. Just keep in mind: Max effort doesn’t necessarily equal all-out speed. Good form should always come first, says Nicolas, who warns against pushing the pace of a movement before you’ve mastered basic form. Also, speed is never the goal. Take the two plank moves in this sequence, for instance. Going all out on those moves means maximum muscle engagement, says Nicolas—not busting out a ton of reps.

In addition to delivering great cardio plus total-body strengthening and stabilizing, this finisher will also test your coordination and agility, says Nicolas. That’s because it involves movements in multiple planes of motion, including front-to-back exercises (jump lunge and forearm plank rock) as well as side-to-side exercises (lateral plank walk and lateral shuffle). Training your body to move efficiently and safely in multiple planes of motion versus just one can improve your ability to move more dynamically in everyday life. That will serve you well in a variety of scenarios, like quickly changing directions to scoop up a running toddler, or figuring out how to pull your car keys from your pocket while your arms are loaded with grocery bags.

Use this Tabata workout as a finisher to round out a strength workout as a way to sneak in some cardio, or add it to a leg-driven cardio workout (like running or cycling) to ensure your upper body gets some love too. Beginners can try it as well, says Nicolas—as long as you’ve mastered the moves first and go at your own pace. (If you’ve been injured, have a health condition, or have been told to avoid getting your heart rate up too high, talk to your doctor before giving Tabata a try.)

If you want a total-body, quick, and sweaty finisher, give this Tabata workout a try. And when you’re done? Stretch please, says Nicolas.

The Workout

What you need: Just your bodyweight and an exercise mat for comfort.

The Exercises

  • Forearm plank rock
  • Jumping lunge
  • Lateral plank walk
  • Lateral shuffle


  • Perform each move at max effort for 20 seconds, resting 10 seconds in between each move.
  • Without taking a break, repeat the sequence one more time for a total of four minutes.

Demoing the moves below are Cookie Janee (GIF 1), a background investigator and security forces specialist in the Air Force Reserve; Nikki Pebbles (GIF 2), a New York City–based fitness instructor; Mirinda Carfrae (GIF 3), a professional triathlete; and Tiana Jones (GIF 4), a dance and fitness instructor based in New York City.

Read More

You might also like

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More