If this is the first time you’re hearing about tabatas, I’ll quickly introduce you to them.
The workout system comes from Japan, is a form HIIT (high intensity interval training), and the basic structure is:
- 20 seconds of hard work
- 10 seconds of rest
- Repeat 8 times (totalling 4 minutes)
I’ve featured tabata workouts on the blog before, like this HIIT Hotel Room Workout. But a tabata interval can also be as simple as 8 rounds of burpees for 20 seconds, with 10 seconds of rest between each round.
The workout I’m sharing with you today has 3 tabata intervals and is all about building the abs and core. I like to use this workout as a finisher on a strength training day as a way to really target the abs and burn off the last bit of energy. But you can certainly do it on its own if you’re stretched for a time and just want to squeeze a quick workout in – just remember to warm up a bit first.
Set an interval timer to 20 seconds work / 10 seconds rest for 8 rounds. Alternate between bicycle crunches and plank crawls until the 4 minutes are up. Rest as you catch your breath, then set the timer again, this time alternating between atomic sit ups and quick crawls. Then rest, before doing another tabata interval with russian twists and frog jumps.
For all ab exercises it’s important to engage your core and use it to initiate the movement, rather than using momentum or your arms to lift yourself up. In this exercise, make sure you lift and rotate so much your shoulder blades are off the ground.
There’s also extra style points for pointed toes 🙂
Start out in a plank position, keeping your wrist below your shoulders and with your core engage so your hips don’t fall down. Stretch one arm out in front of your, and pull it back – like you’re swimming. Repeat on the other side, trying not to rotate your body as you switch sides.
Make it easier: the farther apart your legs are, the easier it is to keep your balance.
Atomic sit ups
Lie on your back with your legs stretched out and arms overhead. Engage your core as you lift your upper body and bends your legs until you can touch your heels. Lower yourself back down without touching the ground.
(I hope you didn’t notice I forgot to film a video of this and had to use stills for the gif)
Lie on your stomach and engage your core and backside to lift your legs and chest up. Move your arms and legs up and down quickly.
Twist your torso from side to side, focusing on engaging your core, not just moving your arms from side to side.
Make it easier: Keep your feet on the ground.
Make it harder: Lean further back, so you’re closer to the ground
Starting in a plank, jump forward so your feet lands close to/outside your hands.
Modify the workout to your level
Make it easier:
- Take a break more often or make the breaks longer
- Shorten the work periods – either the total time, or add more breaks
- Substitute exercises with an easier variation, like russian twists with your feet on the ground
Make it harder:
- Increase the load (by using (heavier) weights)
- Decrease the time you rest, either for each interval for between tabatas.
- Substitute exercises with a more challenging variation
- Make sure you’re hitting the full range of motion
- Do another workout afterwards
Have you ever tried a tabata workout? Let me know in the comments!