Cardio Schmardio: Sweatin’ Tabata Style

If you know me, you probably know I am not a fan of cardio in its traditional form. Yes, sometimes I will run to clear my head or jump on the treadmill to do some incline work. But typically 15 minutes in I’m hating life and contemplating the 9,000 better ways to spend 30-40 minutes. 

If this sounds familiar pay close attention to what I’m about to say. There’s a better way! That’s right, all my cardio bashers unite! I’m about to drop some knowledge that will set you free from the cardio hamster wheel. 


Ta- who now? Ok. Aside from its weird a** name, tabatas are actually a tested and proven form of cardio that can not only get you better results but also save time and your sanity. 

What is a tabata? 

It’s an interval style workout in which you give 20 seconds of all-out intense effort followed by 10 seconds of rest repeated 8 times for 4 total minutes of exercise. 

Now I know 4 minutes doesn’t seem like much but when it’s 100% effort followed by minimal rest, trust me, it’s tough. You will sweat. Like, a lot. 

What types of exercises can you do? 

I like to mix it up. Typically I pick 2-4 exercises per tabata that I will alternate between. I like to choose from plyometric type exercises (think jump squats, burpees, box jumps) with some more resistance type movements that still increase your heart rate (push-ups, plank variations, lunges, kettlebell swings, etc…) The possibilities are endless and it’s really difficult to do a tabata wrong as long as you’re giving all-out effort during your 20 second work periods. 

What are the benefits of tabatas?

In the original study, scientists compared two groups of exercisers. One group did 1,800 minutes of moderate cardio a week. The second did 120 minutes of tabatas. Not only did the tabata group experience better aerobic results but they also experienced better anaerobic results. This means they were able to maintain or even grow their lean muscle mass. Traditional cardio can actually waste muscle which leads to a slower metabolism, plateaued fat-burning and undesirable body composition. Prolonged cardio can also tax your adrenal system suppressing immune function and causing chronic fatigue. 

So, not only did the tabata group experience better results, but they did it in a fraction of time. And though the study doesn’t say specifically, I’m going to assume they were WAY less bored than the moderate cardio group too. Because tabatas are hella fun!!

How do I keep track of my intervals?

I personally am a fan of my Gymboss timer. You can actually set it to any interval length as well as any number of rounds. It has a vibrate and audible alert to let you know when to start and stop and you can just clip it on and go to work! I got mine HERE

But there are a ton of apps available that can do the exact same thing right from your phone. Just search interval or tabata timer. Most of them are even free!

Are tabatas the only type of cardio I should do?

Honestly, that depends on you and your goals. I would have to work one-on-one with someone to know exactly how much and what type of cardio they do or do not need. If you’re brand new to fitness I would wait on tabatas until you’ve built up some strength and cardiovascular endurance. Good ol’ walking can actually be very beneficial! So start there and work your way up. But if you’re tired of traditional cardio (which can actually hinder results if overdone) tabatas are an excellent reprieve to supplement (or even replace) your current cardio routine!  

So what will my tabata workout look like?

Here is an example of one of my personal tabata workouts!

Dynamic Warm-Up

Tabata #1: Burpees/Man Makers

Tabata #2: Kettlebell Swings/Jump Rope

Tabata #3: Plank/Mountain Climbers

Cool Down Jog or Walk 

*for more info on these exercises email me at

In total it should take roughly 20 minutes. For a full, comprehensive cardio workout! Heck yes!!

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