Workout Routines

Fit in 15: Fat-Burning Tabata Circuit

This bodyweight-only Tabata circuit gets the job done when you’re short on time.

by CSCS, MS
Tabata Exercise - Plank

If you’ve ever been on the road and found that your hotel gym is ill-equipped to meet your training needs, take heart—there are still plenty of options that you can tackle from the comfort of your room. Bodyweight training, when done right (and well) can truly enhance your body aesthetic. It can get your heart rate up and leave you in a pile of your own sweat if you’re willing to get serious with it.

And Tabata training—eight, 20-second segments of work followed by 10 seconds of rest—definitely qualifies as serious. This minimalist routine can be used whenever you are short on time or equipment (or both), or when you’re simply looking for a bodyweight-based shock to the system. And we promise—if you pour max intensity into each work segment, you will enjoy plenty of next-day soreness.

The Workout

Using a Tabata protocol, cycle through these four exercises, circuit-style:

  • Bodyweight Squat
  • Pushup
  • Alternating Lunge
  • Plank 

So you’ll perform squats for 20 seconds, rest for 10. Push-ups for 20 seconds, rest for 10. Alternating lunges for 20 seconds, rest for 10. Plank for 20 seconds, rest for 10. Repeat this process until you get to 16 minutes—the extra minute is like extra credit. The key is to work as hard as possible for each 20-second segment.

Workout Tips

  • Download a Tabata timer app for free on your mobile device or pick up a Gym Boss timer to keep your work and rest on point.
  • If you are less experienced, drop your work segments to 15 seconds and increase rest to 15 seconds and work your way up to the traditional Tabata protocol over a few weeks.
  • For a more advanced version, do each exercise Tabata-style, one at a time. Don’t move on to the next exercise until you’ve completed a full Tabata set for each exercise.

The 15-Minute Payoff

Condensing your work in this manner has been shown to improve strength and conditioning in elite athletes but it also provides a high-volume shock to muscles that are more accustomed to heavier work.

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