Tabata Low-Impact and High-Intensity Challenge

This Tabata workout is a great way to get fit by doing high-intensity intervals that will challenge your entire body. Tabata training is a protocol developed by Dr. Izumi Tabata, a Japanese professor who was also the head coach of the Japanese speed skating team.

The protocol uses short intervals of very high-intensity exercise with short rest periods in between. The format has been shown to burn calories and improve cardiorespiratory endurance.

This advanced workout includes four Tabata sets with a focus on low impact, high-intensity exercises. You'll do each pair of exercises for 20 seconds, rest for 10, repeating that for a total for 4 minutes for each set.

This workout does include kettlebell exercises, so you should be familiar with kettlebell training before trying these moves. Choose one Tabata set for a shorter workout, or complete all five for an intense 25-minute workout (including the warm-up).

Precautions

Check with your healthcare provider if you are new to exercise, if you have been sedentary for an extended period, if you have any injuries or illnesses, or if you are returning to exercise after pregnancy.

Equipment Needed

You'll need a medium-heavy kettlebell (substitute dumbbells if a kettlebell is not available), a medicine ball (optional), and gliding discs or paper plates.

Instructions

  • After the warm up, alternate the exercises in each Tabata set, doing each for 20 seconds and resting for 10 seconds.
  • Repeat each Tabata set 4 times and then rest for about a minute before moving on to the next Tabata.
  • Each set should take about 5 minutes unless you need more rest.
  • Skip any exercise that causes pain or discomfort, and add more rest as needed, while trying to challenge yourself and push your limits.

Warm Up

Close up of unrecognizable athlete running on a treadmill in a gym.
skynesher / Getty Images

Complete a 5-minute warm up to increase your body's core temperature and prepare your muscles for the harder work ahead. If you have access to a treadmill, you can walk at a brisk pace. You can also use a stationary bike or stair stepper.

If you don't have cardio equipment, simply do a step/touch movement. Step out to the right as wide as you can, swinging the arms up. Bring the left foot in, touch the floor and then step out to the left. Repeat, moving as fast as you can for 20 seconds, then rest 10 seconds.

Tabata Set #1

Bear Crawl

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Bear Crawls

Squat to the floor and walk your hands out until you're in a plank position. As quickly as you can, walk the hands back to a squat and stand up. If you're up for a challenge, add a push-up when you're in the plank position for more intensity. Repeat for 20 seconds, and rest for 10 seconds.

Front Kick with Plank

Start standing. Now kick the right foot in front of your body then swing it behind you bringing your entire body to the floor in a plank position. Hold briefly and then step the left leg forward to bring your body to a standing position. Now kick with the left leg and repeat the sequence on the other side. Repeat for 20 seconds, and rest for 10 seconds.

Repeat this sequence 4 times for a total of 4 minutes. Rest for 30-60 seconds

Tabata Set #2

side lunge with kettlebell lift

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Kettlebell Side Lunge and Lift

Start standing and hold the kettlebell in both hands in front of your body. Take a big step (lunge) out to the right side, bending the right leg and keeping the left leg straight. As your body moves to the side, lift the kettlebell up along the front of the body into a kettlebell upright row.

Press off of the right foot to bring the feet back together and repeat on the left side. Continue alternating sides for 20 seconds, and rest for 10 seconds.

Kettlebell Swings With Lateral Lunge

Combine a basic kettlebell swing with a side lunge for this exercise. Begin standing and hold a kettlebell with both hands in front of your body. Take a big step (lunge) out to the right, letting the kettlebell fall between the legs. Then push off the right foot, bringing the feet back together as you pop the hips to swing the weight to shoulder level.

As the kettlebell lowers, step out to the left to repeat the lunge/swing sequence on the other side. Continue alternating sides for 20 seconds, and rest for 10 seconds.

Repeat this sequence 4 times for a total of 4 minutes. Rest for 30-60 seconds

Tabata Set #3

Mountain Climber using sliders
Mountain Climber using sliders. D. Haller

Sliding Burpees

Stand with feet on glider discs or paper plates with feet hip-distance apart and sink into a deep squat. Plant the palms on the floor and slide the feet back into a plank position. Now complete a pushup (optional), then slide the feet back in underneath the hips and stand up. Repeat for 20 seconds, and rest for 10 seconds.

Sliding Mountain Climbers

Start on the floor in a pushup position with your toes on the glider discs. Alternate bringing each knee in towards the chest, as though running. Keep the hips down and move as fast as you can. Continue for 20 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds.

Repeat the sequence 4 times for a total of 4 minutes. Rest for 30-60 seconds

Tabata Set #4

kettlebell snatch

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Kettlebell Snatch

Start standing with a kettlebell in your right hand. Sink into a squat, let the kettlebell swing down between the legs. In one fluid and powerful move, extend your knees and hips, pulling the kettlebell overhead with straight arm and palm facing forward. 

From this standing position, swing the weight back down, lower into a squat and repeat for 20 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds. On your next round, hold the weight in the left hand.

Kettlebell Windmill

Start with the feet slightly wider than hip-distance apart. Grip the kettlebell with your right hand and extend the right arm over your head with palm facing forward. Extend the left arm down in front of your left thigh then hinge at the hips, lowering the upper body down and to the left side until the torso is parallel to the floor. Keep the right arm steady and fully extended overhead.

Reverse the movement, lifting the body while keeping a strong straight spine. Keep the weight steady and elevated over the right shoulder. Repeat for 20 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds. On your next round, hold the weight in the left hand.

Repeat 4 times for a total of 4 minutes. Cool down and stretch.

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  1. Emberts T, Porcari J, Dobers-Tein S, Steffen J, Foster C. Exercise intensity and energy expenditure of a Tabata workoutJ Sports Sci Med. 2013;12(3):612-613.