“I want to make fitness simple and attainable for busy women”

-Allison Lambert

The Fit Tutor

Tabatas: The 4 minute workout

One of the biggest reasons that trainers hear about why people don’t workout is they lack time. If you’ve read my past posts, you know I think that people can prioritize and be creative to incorporate exercise into their lives! Lately, the buzz in the fitness scene is all about the tabata protocol. I have tried it, and I have loved it! Let me explain:

Everyone has 4 minutes

I would not recommend only doing tabatas, or only working out for 4 minutes every day you exercise. However, they are a GREAT way to shake up your workout routine, and my favorite use for them is an extremely busy day where all I really have is 4 minutesReader beware: continuing reading will disqualify any excuse about not having time from here on out. ;)



Metabolism ignition

In a Tabata style workout, you work at a high intensity for 20 seconds, rest 10 seconds, and repeat for 4 minutes. Research has shown it burns calories, jumpstarts your metabolism, and increases your anaerobic capacity and VO2 Max (those can be confusing so to simplify: they’re pretty cool). It can also help to balance blood chemistry and help your body work more efficiently- in the same way that longer bouts of exercise can! Depending on what exercises you choose, you can slim down and tone up with the time you have. (I’m assuming you are currently dancing in your chair after this knowledge bomb!)

What should you do?

It is recommended you go at 90% of your Heart Rate Max (HRM). Not many people know that or want to bother keeping track of it, so an easier way is to go between an 8 or 9 on a scale out of 10. A 10 is you sprinting to get away from a zombie and running as fast and hard as you can. If you are on blood pressure medication, you would go between a 7 and 8 on this scale (just assume you are slightly faster than the zombie, so you wouldn’t have to go as fast). This is a good rule of thumb if you choose certain heart rate raising exercises.


If you are just starting out, go with what makes you feel comfortable. I don’t highly recommend this as a way to get into fitness if you are currently inactive, but this is better than nothing for most people. :)

How I use Tabatas

Sometimes I run in place or do high knees for the entire tabata. I also enjoy dividing the time up into quads- pick four exercises and cycle through them twice during the 4 minutes. I alternate a strength exercise with a plyometric exercise to get my heart rate up. You don’t get the exact same effect as sprinting for 4 minute intervals, but this is still a great way to exercise for those who are pressed for time.

Here is a great at-home, no equipment workout- Tabata style


(4 minutes of 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off, cycling through these exercises twice- or more if you are up for it!)

(For modifications, you can do partial squats or a squat hold if you have bad knees, march in place instead of high knees, and for the pushups and mountain climbers you can do them on the side of a couch or table instead of the floor.)

Mixing it up

If you have more than 4 minutes, putting tabatas together is a great, fun way to change up your workouts! I like to put four together for a good 20 minute workout— don’t forget to warm up and stretch properly! My favorite tabata timer app is called Seconds Free in the App store :)

Working from home

Lastly, another way I like to use tabatas are those days I work from home and have a lot to do. I set an alarm for every hour or two and do a tabata (after proper warm up of course!) and then go back to work. It helps to spike my metabolism, burn calories, and gain strength on those busy days.

The Fit Tutor has many pre-made tabata workouts to choose from, as well as a workout creator to make your own! If you want to learn how to workout and lose weight from home, sign up for your free trial today! Especially if you’re interested in nutrition coaching, accountability, and getting in shape for only $11.99/mo. Woah. 

Try tabatas out and let me know what you think!

Allison :)

**Of course, check with your doctor before starting any exercise program! 


Emberts, Talisa, M.S., John P. Porcari, Ph.D., Jeffrey Steffen, Ph.D., and Scott Doberstein, M.S. “Is Tabata All It’s Cracked Up To Be?” ACE Fitnesshttp://www.acefitness.org. N.p., 23 Sept. 2013. Web. 24 Oct. 2013.

Reynolds, Gretchen. “The 4-Minute Workout.” The New York Timeshttp://well.blogs.nytimes.com/. N.p., 19 June 2013. Web. 24 Oct. 2013. <http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/06/19/the-4-minute-workout/?_r=1>.

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4 Responses to “Tabatas: The 4 minute workout”
  1. Avatar photo
    Allison Lambert

    I’m excited for you, Chris! Let me know if you need any help :)

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