Tabata Bodyweight Exercises for Working up a Killer Burn

As fun as it is to slam battle ropes, swing kettlebells, hoist heavyweights, there’s absolute power in Tabata Bodyweight Exercises for working up a killer burn using just your body. Think about it: If you’re 140 pounds, you’re pressing that much weight away from the floor every time you do a push-up.

When you’re using only your body weight as resistance, it’s pretty much impossible to cheat but easy to progress. These workout circuits are incorporating total-body compound exercises designed, so you quickly build up some heat and engage your core almost every set.

Traditionally a Tabata workout is broken into 4 minutes rounds with every 4 minutes following the same format of max-effort work for 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds of complete rest repeated eight times. However, more exercises can be added to create a longer workout. The only adjustment you need to make to the format is to add a minute of rest between exercises.

In case it isn’t clear, this workout is set up to complete a full 4 minute Tabata of each exercise (20 seconds high-intensity work, 10 seconds rest, repeated eight times) before moving onto the next one. Make sure to take a minute to rest in between each Tabata exercise, too. For example, you will complete 4 minutes of mountain climbers, rest 1 minute, complete 4 minutes of sit-ups, rest, and so on.

Warm-up

Each Tabata workout should begin with a 10-minute warm-up that gets your blood pumping, your heart beating, and your body warm and mobile. This is very important for preparing yourself for exercise and avoiding injury.

Here we go! Exercise Breakdown

Tabata Bodyweight Exercises
Tabata Bodyweight Exercises Example of Mountain climbers

• Mountain climbers

Start in a straight arm plank position on the hands and toes. Bend your right knee in towards your chest. I usually rest the foot of the bent knee on the floor, but I kept it off for this workout to engage more of my core.

Jump up and switch your feet in the air, bringing the left foot in and push the right foot back.

Alternate your feet as fast (and safely) as you can for 20 seconds. Your body will get tired during a full Tabata of this exercise. Just do what you can. I promise it will get better!

Tabata Bodyweight Exercises Example of sit-ups

• Sit-ups

Get on the floor in a sit-up position: back and feet flat on the floor with your knees bent to a ninety-degree angle. Cross your arms over your chest. This is your starting position. Tighten your glutes and hamstrings as you sit up, then slowly roll back to the starting position.

Repeat as many times as you can for 20 seconds without jeopardizing your form.

Tabata Bodyweight Exercises
Tabata Bodyweight Exercises Example of push-ups

• Push-ups

Get on the floor and position your hands slightly wider than your shoulders. Raise on your toes, or modify by dropping your knees (pictured).

Keep your body in a straight line from your head to toe without dropping your middle or arching your back. Before you begin the push-up, contract your abs, and keep your core tight.

Think of pulling your belly button towards your spine, then lower and lift.

Tabata Bodyweight Exercises Example of squats

• Squats

Start with your feet a bit wider than your shoulders. Stand tall, then come down into a squat position with your thighs slightly higher than your knees. Think about getting into a position similar to a toddler picking up a toy off of the floor.

Be careful not to lean your body forward, arch, or round your lower back. Quickly squat down and push back up as fast as you can (without losing your form) for 20 seconds.

Tabata Bodyweight Exercises
Tabata Bodyweight Exercises Example of Plank sidewalks

• Plank sidewalks

This is a great shoulder and core exercise I would like to incorporate more often!

Start in a straight arm plank position on your hands (under your shoulders) and toes. Make sure your core is tight, and the body is in a straight line. Keep your hips down and core tight throughout the entire exercise.

You are going to be moving your arms and legs at the same time. (Your hands move together as your feet step apart.) Cross your right hand over your left as you step your left foot to the left. Then simultaneously step your left hand and right foot to the left, returning to your original straight arm plank position.

Move two or three steps to the right, then the same amount of steps to the left for 20 seconds.

Tabata Bodyweight Exercises Example of Reverse lunges

• Reverse lunges

Start standing tall with your hands on your hips and feet under your hips.

Step backward with your left leg and lower your body until your right knee is bent at least 90 degrees and your left knee nearly touches the floor.

Push yourself back to the starting position by pressing into the floor.

If you feel comfortable, alternate sides for your reps for the 20-second Tabata. Aim to keep your front heel under your knee and avoid leaning forward or back!

Cool-down

At the end of each workout, you want to cool down by gently walking or cycling to lower your heart rate before doing a full-body stretch, foam rolling, or yoga.

Tips

  • While the original study involved a stationary bike, you can do the Tabata Protocol with almost any activity or cardio machine. For example, in this Tabata cardio workout, there are a variety of bodyweight exercises that, if done at full intensity, will get your heart rate soaring.
  • Make sure you are thoroughly warmed up (for at least 10 minutes) before trying this type of workout.
  • If you’re new to this type of training, start with 5-6 cycles of each exercise and increase the rest to 20-30 seconds. As you get a feel for the workout and build stamina, gradually shorten the rest periods and increase the number of cycles to add more intensity.
  • If you do more than one Tabata set (as many workouts do), rest about 60 or more seconds between Tabata sets.
  • Monitor your intensity frequently. The energy accumulates as you go through each cycle, peaking as you reach the end of the workout when muscles are fatigued, and form gets sloppy, making you more vulnerable to injury.
  • Do this workout no more than 1-2 times a week, with rest in between to avoid overtraining and injury.
  • You can find some great Tabata timing apps to help you keep track of your Tabatas,  such as Tabata Pro, available for both iPhone and Android.

Tabata Bodyweight Exercises Summary

Tabata Training is a great way to spice up your workouts, burn more calories, and get more out of your exercise time. Because the intervals are so short, you feel them, but the workout flies by quickly. Try adding Tabata training once a week to see how your body responds.

If you feel like you’re getting too breathless, extend your recovery times, or take extra breaks as needed. Be sure to listen to your body when doing any type of high-intensity exercise. If you feel any pain or discomfort, take a break, try different activities or back off for the day.

High-intensity interval training is very taxing on the body, so it’s easy to overdo it you’re not careful.

I hope you found this article helpful and informative. If you have anything that you’d like to share or any opinions about my website, please do speak up. I look forward to your comments, questions, and the sharing of ideas.

Disclaimer: I am not a personal trainer or a healthcare professional. The workouts I post are what work best for me, and might not be the right type of exercise for you. I always recommend consulting a doctor or health professional before making changes to your diet and/or fitness routine. 

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2 thoughts on “Tabata Bodyweight Exercises for Working up a Killer Burn”

  1. Hey there, Robert! I love the Tabata exercises, as I have been following through since my quarantined period. The activities that you have recommended is in my regular sets, but I don’t usually do the plank sideways, I would like to try that out later this evening when I’m doing my workout sessions. I typically love also to use the Spotify ‘Tabata’ music, which helps me keep up the motivation in exercising (For me, It cant be pretty tiring and demotivating without music). I also like how you include pictures/gifs to show an example of the exercises. I also love your tips here! It’s clear to say that you have a vast knowledge of your topic. Keep it up!

    Reply
  2. Wow! I haven’t heard anything about the Tabata bodyweight exercise in the past, and I would like to know about a new trend or something. The moves in the Tabata bodyweight exercise are much more familiar with the other steps that I have seen in time past. However, sit up happens to be a perfect exercise that helps to burn belly fat.

    Reply

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