Vicki Hatch-Moen and Autumn Skeel by Vicki Hatch-Moen and Autumn Skeel

Tabata is a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) fitness protocol that increases VO2 max, burns 15 calories per minute, increases excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) and is adaptable to most fitness levels. One Tabata lasts four minutes and consists of eight 20/10 intervals (referred to as rounds). During the 20 seconds, an all-out effort (get breathless) is encouraged, or an RPE of 9-10 on a modified Borg scale. Every 20 seconds of work is followed by a 10-second rest.  You can use a Tabata timer app or download Total Body Tabata (TBT) timed music from Muscle Mixes to keep everyone focused and on time.

Although the park we used in this video features stairs, curbs, a dock and a park bench, you can adapt these exercises for your location to meet the needs of your participants. Always check to make sure the outdoor workout area is safe for hands and feet (no holes or gravel).

Spend five to seven minutes warming up with movement in all three planes of motion, planks for upper-body and core warm-up, and dynamic stretching. Each Tabata features two exercises—urge your participants to focus first on form, next on range of motion and, finally, speed.   Between Tabata rounds, have participants take one minute to recover and hydrate while they keep moving; during this time, demonstrate the next pair of Tabata exercises. If you notice participants getting too breathless, encourage them to lengthen their recovery time by resting through one 20/10 round.

At the end of this 30-minute challenging total-body Tabata workout, take adequate time to recover and stretch. Remind everyone to perform no more than one or two Tabata workouts on non-consecutive days during a single week.  

Tabata #1

Exercise #1: Triceps Push-up to Elbow-Knee Side Plank. Alternate Sides.

Option: Triceps Push-Up to Side Plank Staggered Feet

TIPS: Hand(s) under shoulders, core braced, neutral spine

Rounds: 2 rounds

Exercise #2: Reverse Lunge Power Knee

Option: Decrease lunge ROM. Power knee without jump.

TIPS: Knee aligned over ankle. Land toe, ball, heel.

Rounds: 4 rounds (2 on right leg, 2 on left leg). Repeat. 

Tabata #2

Exercise #1: Tree Tag Sprints

Choose three trees each about 20 feet apart. Sprint from tree #1 to #2 to #3, then back to #1. Keep going until whistle blows.


Rounds: 4 rounds 


Exercise #2: Burpee 180 Squat Jump

Option: Replace 180 with a small jump forward and back.

TIPS: Core braced, neutral spine knees in line with toes

Rounds: 4 rounds

Tabata # 3

Exercise #1: Sideways Plank Walk Mountain Climbers

Start in Plank. Walk sideways 2 times (right,left,right,left). Do 8 quick mountain climbers. Repeat to other side. Continue to alternate sides till whistle blows.

TIPS: Core braced, neutral spine, drive knees in during climbers

Rounds: 2 rounds


Exercise #2: Long Jump Burpee Heel-Click Jack It Back

Long Jump Forward to Burpee to Heel Click to 2 Jacks Backing Up to Start Position. Repeat till whistle blows. Options: Do 3 Jacks back in place of heel click.

TIPS: Core braced, neutral spine, knees in line with middle toes.

Rounds: 2 rounds

Tabata #4

Exercise #1: Stair Sprint to Speed Squat Jumps

TIPS: Sprint up set of stairs to top. Perform speed squat jumps till whistle blows. Jog down in 10 seconds to reset for next 20 seconds Option: Replace squat jumps with speed squat.

Rounds: 4 rounds


Exercise #2 : Park Bench Sit to Star Jump

Option: Replace Star Jump with Squat Jump

TIPS: Knees in line with toes for all plyos in this Tabata.

Rounds: 4 rounds

Tabata #5

Exercise #1: Half-Moon Heel Click Alternate Legs

Option: Replace heel click with jack. Bend at knee with half moon. 

TIPS: Start half-moon with legs a litle wider than hips, draw one leg up toward center line, circle leg open and jump, then land in a squat. Repeat with other leg. 

Rounds: 2 rounds


Exercise #2 : Crab Walk Forward & Back 

Crab walk forward 8 counts and back 8 counts until whistle blows. 

TIPS: Hold reverse plant during the 10 seconds' rest for increased time under tension. 

Rounds: 2 rounds

Want to lead your group fitness classes in the ultimate high-energy workout? Sign up for the Total Body Tabata HIIT Instructor Training course!