tabata

I have a love/hate relationships with Tabata training…..I love what it does for me, but I hate how I feel around minute #3.

Seriously…Tabata training is one of the best ways to quickly improve fitness & melt body-fat. If that piques your interest, read on….

Pre-Workout Checklist

  1. Pick an exercise that uses a lot of muscle – squats, power cleans, pull-ups, etc… To make that selection, you can choose from the list of exercises that I have provided or pick your own if you think my choices stink.
  2. Pick a weight that you can handle for at least 7 reps.

Execution

  1. Perform as many reps as possible within 20 seconds – maintain good form
  2. Rest for 10 seconds
  3. Perform 7 more sets
  4. Move on to the next exercise

Note:  Use a clock, stopwatch, workout buddy or a dedicated HIIT timer to keep track of your work sets and rest periods. I know of two HIIT timers on the market.

The Workouts

Instead of giving you a static workout with pre-selected exercises, I have decided to organize the workout by movement patterns (e.g. Vertical Push) or dominant muscle groups (Quadriceps).

Within those groups, I have given you a list of related exercises.

For example, within the Vertical Push Movement Group, you can choose from 1 Arm Overhead PressPush Presses, 1 Arm Grappler Presses, Side Presses, etc…

Remember, the goal is to go as hard as you can for 8 sets of 20 seconds.

  • Don’t use this workout to try out new exercises – You won’t be able to develop maximum intensity if you need to concentrate on technique. Choose exercises that you know you can perform effectively and safely.
  • If you can’t make it through all 8 sets because of the lactic burn to a muscle, eliminate that exercise and replace it with one that uses more muscles. e.g. a push press uses more muscles than an overhead barbell press.
  • Single limb exercises allow you overcome this problem as well – e.g. 1 Arm Overhead Press v.s. Barbell Overhead Press

Workout # 1

  1. Vertical Push Movement
  2. Horizontal Pull Movement
  3. Quadriceps Dominant Movement
  4. Core Stabilization – focus on Spinal Flexion & Extension
  5. Vertical Push Movement – optional
  6. Horizontal Pull Movement – optional
  7. Quadriceps Dominant Movement – optional
  • Feel free to re-arrange the order of Exercises 1, 2 and 3. It doesn’t really make a difference.
  • Sets 5 to 7 are for advanced athletes only. Remember, intensity is the key to Tabata success. Don’t try and pace yourself in order to add another set. Go full out on each set. Believe me, 4 sets of full intensity Tabatas should be enough to have you soaking wet with sweat and bordering on nausea.

Workout # 2

  1. Vertical Pull Movement
  2. Horizontal Push Movement
  3. Hamstrings/Glute Dominant Movement
  4. Core Stabilization – focus on Rotation and Lateral Flexion
  5. Vertical Pull Movement – optional
  6. Horizontal Push Movement – optional
  7. Hamstring/Glute Dominant Movement – optional
  • Feel free to re-arrange the order of Exercises 1, 2 and 3. It doesn’t really make a difference.
  • Sets 5 to 7 are for advanced athletes only. Remember, intensity is the key to Tabata success. Don’t try and pace yourself in order to add another set. Go full out on each set. Believe me, 4 sets of full intensity Tabatas should be enough to have you soaking wet with sweat and bordering on nausea.

Vertical Push Movement

Horizontal Pull Movement

  • 1 Arm Standing Cable Row or Band Row
  • Body-weight Rowuse an adjustable power rack or Smith machine. This allows you to modify the angle of pull and the percentage of body-weight. Also, change your grips from set to set – width, underhand, overhand
  • 1 Arm or 2 Arm Seated Rows – I prefer the standing rows because of their high demand for stabilization, but the seated version is pretty good as well
  • Avoid any bent-over movements – Your lower back will fail long before the rest of you

Quadriceps Dominant Movement

  • Front Squats – Dumbbells or Barbell
  • Body-weight or Weighted Vest Squats – 1 Leg or 2
  • Overhead Squats1 Arm or 2, 1 Leg or 2
  • Quad Dominant Lunges – Lunge forward onto the ball of your foot AND keep your step short and allow the knee to travel past your toes…I know, I know, everyone says not to lunge this way, but it really hits the quads. BTW, take a look at how far your knee travels past your toes as you climb a flight of stairs…ooooh scary stuff.
  • Bench Step-Ups
  • Bulgarian Lunge/Squat

Core Stabilization – focus on Spinal Flexion & Extension

  • Standing Cable or Band Crunch
  • The Ab Wheel
  • Leg raises/Knee-Ups / Crunches (various) – I would skip these exercises – you will fatigue quickly and you will probably have to cheat to complete all 8 sets

Vertical Pull Movement

Horizontal Push Movement

  • Push-Ups – like the Body-weight Row, use a Smith machine to adjust angles and body-weight resistance. Also, adjust hand placement (width, overhand, underhand) from set to set. Trust me, switching grips will increase the number of reps you will be able to perform
  • 1 Arm Standing Cable Press or Band Presses
  • Stay away from any standard bench press type exercise. The lactic acid will hit way too soon. You will never get a good Tabata workout…trust me. The cable/band exercise is the best choice. Even the push-ups allow you to use your legs and core to help perform the lift. You need these extra muscles to take some of the load

Hamstring/Glute Dominant Movement

Core Stabilization – focus on Rotation and Lateral Flexion

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