Tabata Is The 4-Minute, Fat-Burning Workout You Need To Try

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 fat-torching, sweat-pouring, hard-as-hell workout in just four (yes, four) minutes? That’s Tabata for you. This workout maximizes the benefits of interval training in a short amount of time, and you can do it with almost anything—cardio machines, bodyweight moves, you name it. Of course, there’s one major key to fat-burning success with Tabata: You’ve gotta push yourself to the absolute max.

Tabata involves 20 seconds of balls-to-the-wall effort followed by 10 seconds of rest (either pare down your effort or stop completely), repeated eight times for a total of four minutes. Every four-minute bout is one complete Tabata.

Why Tabata is so efficient:

High-intensity interval training in general is especially effective at burning fat because it requires your body to work harder to return to a resting state (a phenomenon called EPOC, or excess post-exercise oxygen consumption), so you continue to burn calories long after you’ve toweled off. The added intensity in a Tabata workout means your body will have to work overtime to return to a pre-workout state (read: even more calories burned).

It’s a quicker interval method on steroids. “Since the intensity is all-out, 100 percent effort, taking you into the aerobic-plus zone, it requires less time [than other workouts to be effective] and also provides a bigger afterburn.”

Olson tested the method in a 2013 study: She had 15 participants do a Tabata workout with bodyweight jump squats and asked them to work as hard as they possibly could during the 20-second work sections. “I found that you torch about 14 calories per minute [of Tabata] and that your metabolic rate [the calories your body burns at rest] is doubled for over 30 minutes after exercise,” Olson tells SELF. That’s the extra afterburn effect at work.

Of course, every body is different, so it’s worth noting that those aren’t exact figures for everyone. But one thing’s for sure—Tabata is a great way to get a killer workout in a short amount of time.

How to mix Tabata into your routine:

A typical Tabata includes eight rounds of 20-seconds-on-10-seconds-off, but you can do any number you want.

If you want to do a workout that’s Tabata only: Start with a five-minute dynamic warm-up. Then, McCall suggests doing three full Tabatas—with one to two minutes of rest in between—for a workout that’s about 30 minutes long, including warm-up and cool-down.

“Each Tabata set will use two exercises, and the two exercises will each be done four times,” McCall explains. You could also choose to do a different exercise for each 20-second burst, or do one move for each four-minute Tabata. “Finish with three to five minutes of stretching for a cool-down.”

If you want to add Tabata to your routine: Don’t want to dedicate your whole session to Tabata? Do these four moves twice for a full Tabata to amp up your workout:

• Jumping jacks (20 sec)

Rest (10 secs)

 Burpees (20 secs)

Rest (10 secs)

 Ice skaters (20 secs)

Rest (10 secs)

 Jump squats (20 secs)

Rest (10 secs)


You can use whatever moves you like—McCall’s other favorites are kettlebell swings, jump roping, push-ups, bodyweight squats, and TRX rows. (For more bodyweight move ideas, check these 13 out.) You could also do Tabata with a cardio machine that doesn’t require changing speeds, like a rowing machine, an elliptical, or a stationary bike. “I use Tabata sets in indoor cycling classes where I cue participants to push hard for 20 seconds, pedal slowly for 10, and repeat,” says McCall.

“Twenty seconds of work might be uncomfortable, but it goes by quickly so your workout will be done before you know it,” adds McCall. Just remember, you can do anything for four minutes (now, go crush it).

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