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Nope, You Don’t Have to Be a Fitness Pro to Do the Tabata Method

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Temple chapter.

You likely follow fitness influencers on Instagram, poring over their flawless feeds and intricate health tips.

But sometimes the advice seems inaccessible for younger millenials and Gen Z, amirite? Not all of us have a hefty paycheck that can buy adaptogenic potions, an unlimited Soulcycle pass, and all of the other (super expensive) products that supposedly make us healthy.

Listen to me, ladies. Those Insta-famous wellness gurus are spreading beneficial tips, but they are not the be-all and end-all to physical health. You can crush your fitness goals at home with little to no cash or equipment. How, you ask? With the fab workout method that’s taking over the internet by storm: Tabata.

Um…WTF is Tabata?!

If you’ve heard of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), you already know the gist of Tabata. It’s like the trendy niece of HIIT, and it was inspired by Dr. Izumi Tabata, who first studied this method on athletes in 1996.

For the Tabata method, you pick a single exercise, do a burst of high-intensity reps followed by a short period of rest, and then you repeat that cycle for a period of time. Pick anywhere from 4-12 exercises (depending on your fitness level) and get sweating!

Tabata has been shown to burn more calories than longer, slower workouts. Research shows that it can burn 13.5 calories a minute and double your metabolic rate up to 30 minutes after your sweat sesh. Translation: little workout, big results. It’s the perfect workout for anyone that’s always busy hustling –– so…all of us.

What Should a Tabata Workout Look Like?

The standard for a Tabata-style workout is 20 seconds of an exercise, followed by 10 seconds of rest repeated eight times for a total of four minutes. If you don’t like the sound of repeating the same exercise for four minutes, you can choose two exercises and alternate the 20-10 method for a total of eight minutes.

Easy peasy, right? It shouldn’t be.

To get the most out of your workout, you really need to put in the #werk. Distractions should be kept at bay, meaning your phone should only be used as a timer, and you should be completing as many reps as you can in the 20 second work period.

If you’re new to fitness, try a Tabata workout that lasts between 16-24 minutes (4-8 different exercises). If you’re already a pro, challenge yourself to tackle a 30-45 minute routine.

Can I Do This at Home?

Absolutely! Most Tabata-style workouts don’t include cardio or weight machines, TG. For most routines, you don’t even need hand weights, medicine balls, or other equipment. And if a workout calls for it, you can modify it to accommodate your resources (workout inclusivity, yaaaas). One thing we’ll always recommend to own: an exercise mat. You can get one for cheap (we like this one) or you can invest in a more expensive one (like this one from Lululemon) that will last longer.

What Kind of Exercises Should I Do?

Honestly, it’s up to you! Here are 15 of our favorites, divvied up into fitness level:


Jumping jacks


Alternating forward lunges

Bicycle crunches



Mountain climbers

Jump squats



In-and-out jumping squats


Up-down planks

Alternating jumping lunges

Tuck jumps

Triangle push-ups

Speed skaters

If you need more inspo, Pinterest has an arsenal of mommy bloggers that have more than enough time to write hundreds of Tabata-style workouts. If you’re feeling creative, we totally encourage making up your own.

So, there you have it. Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about Tabata; the best workout for the short-on-time, easily-bored boss babes.

*Jonathan Van Ness appears*: You better werk, honey!

Temple University, 2019. Magazine journalist and editor, fitness instructor, health and wellness enthusiast. Proponent of lists, Jesus, and the Oxford comma. Will do anything for an iced oatmilk latte. Follow my journey: Twitter + Instagram: @sarah_madaus