Categorized | Misc

Tabata Circuit Workout

This No Frills workout is inspired by a form of interval training designed by Japanese sports scientist Dr. Izumi Tabata. Dr. Tabata and his colleagues utilized intense bouts of 20 seconds exercise interspersed with brief 10 second rests which were repeated eight to ten times and resulted in workouts lasting no more than five minutes. By the time you factor in a warm up and a cool down, this means that a true Tabata interval training session lasts around 15 minutes.

Amazingly, because of the very high intensity training effect experienced during Tabata intervals, Dr. Tabata reported that his sample group of athletes, already fit and experienced, increased their aerobic fitness by 14% and anaerobic fitness by 28% in just 8 weeks.

True Tabata intervals are killers! The aim of the game is to work as hard as your possible can during the work periods and the 10 second breaks in between efforts are hardly long enough to catch your breath. The accumulation of lactic acid is staggering and, by the end, it’s all you can do to keep going.

In this Tabata-inspired workout, instead of performing only one Tabata interval, you are actually going to use Tabata protocol with four different exercises performed in a circuit format. You might be asking yourself if one Tabata is so demanding, how on earth are you expected to do four? The answer is simple – you are going to spread the stress around your body rather than repeatedly hammer one body part over and over. This will keep the intensity high but make the whole process more manageable.

Tabata Interval Circuit

For this workout you’ll need a programmable timer such as a GYMBOSS or alternatively, there are lots of apps available that work just as well. If you don’t have access to either of these options, you can perform this workout by keeping an eye on a sweep hand of a well placed clock. You’ll also need a skipping rope, an exercise mat and a little bit of space.

Perform 20 seconds of each exercise in sequence and use the 10 second recovery to move to the next exercise. There are four exercises in the circuit and you are going to perform eight to ten laps in total – so 16 to 20 minutes to complete the entire workout. Place the exercises close together so you don’t waste any time in the transitions.

  1. Skipping – knee lift sprints
  2. Press ups
  3. Chinnies
  4. Squats

So your workout will look like this:

20 seconds skipping
10 seconds rest/transition
20 seconds press ups
10 seconds rest/transition
20 seconds Chinnies
10 seconds rest/transition
20 seconds squats
10 seconds rest/transition
Start from the top again with 20 seconds skipping…repeat for 8 or 10 laps

Workout Strategy

True Tabata intervals do not allow for pacing – you go as fast as you can for each and every work period. Despite the fact that by using a variety of muscle groups you are moving the stress around your body, it is unrealistic to perform each of the 32 to 40 intervals at maximal effort. I suggest you work hard but just shy of “eyeballs out” intensity. While this pacing contradicts true Tabata intervals, it will make this workout a realistic but challenging undertaking as opposed to an impossible one!

Make a mental note of how many repetitions you manage in your first lap and endeavour to hit similar numbers in each subsequent lap. The next time you perform this workout, try to add a rep or two.

Exercise Descriptions

Skipping – knee lift sprints
Skipping is a No Frills favourite as it’s simple, effective and can be performed just about anywhere. Make sure your rope is the right length by standing on the centre with your feet together. The handles should reach your armpits. Rope too long? Tie a couple of knots in it to shorten it. Rope too short? Discard it and get another one!

To perform knee lift sprints, simple run on the spot and pump your legs so that your thighs come up to parallel to the floor. Do not lean forwards from your waist but, instead, drive your knees up. Can’t skip? No problem – jumping jacks are a suitable alternative.

Press ups
The humble press up is one of the best upper body exercises around. You can perform your press ups on your on your toes or resting on your knees. Whichever option you choose, keep your abs tight, lower your chest to the floor and do not let your head drop or lower back sag/arch.

I first saw this exercise being performed by Scottish sprinter Alan Wells back in the 80’s and it’s been a favourite ever since. Using both the rectus abdominus and obliques at the same time, it allows you to really crank out the reps at a decent pace.

Lie on your back on an exercise mat with your legs straight and your hands resting on your temples. Sit up, bend one leg and take your elbow to your opposite knee and then return to the starting position. Perform an identical rep on the other side. Try to establish a brisk rhythm maintain it for the duration of your set. This exercise can be performed so that your feet are just off the ground all the time (sometimes called a bicycle crunch) or with one foot resting on the ground.  I prefer the latter. Do not pull on your head as this can result in an injury to your neck.

No workout is complete without squats! Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your hands clasped so that your fingers are lightly touching your chin. With your chest up, push your hips back, bend your legs and descend until your elbows touch your knees. Drive up out of the bottom position and repeat. Really pump those legs and don’t pause between reps – imagine your thighs are pistons.

This is a very simple time, equipment, and space-efficient workout that, factoring in a warm up and cool down, will take no more than 30 minutes to perform – everything you have come to expect from a No-Frills workout!







Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Shopping Cart

Your trolley is empty

Join us online!