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A Modifiable and Do Anywhere Tabata Circuit

Posted 09-08-2020
In Workouts & Tabata

A Modifiable and Do Anywhere Tabata Circuit

Tabata training is one of the most intense, time-efficient ways you can work out. Invented by Japanese sports scientist Dr. Izumi Tabata, this method involves doing eight sets of 20 seconds maximum intensity exercise, broken up with brief ten-second rests.

Done properly, Tabatas are brutal. What does that mean? According to Tabata, you should treat every interval like a race, giving each one your best effort. If you feel like you could have done more or gone faster, you weren’t working hard enough!

But that doesn’t mean there is only one way to do Tabatas, and for this workout, while we’re going to stay true to the 20 seconds on/10 seconds off structure, we’re going to use more than one exercise to create a Tabata circuit.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that a Tabata circuit would be impossibly challenging but, by moving from one body group exercise to the next, you actually getting somewhat of an active rest, and that makes this workout far more manageable than a single Tabata exercise.


The workout

Do eight laps of the following four exercise circuit. Set your Gymboss tabata timer and do each exercise for 20 seconds, and then take just ten seconds rest to move to the next one. Continue until you have completed all eight laps.

1. Split squat jumps
2. Body saw
3. Goblet squats
4. Push-ups

The order of the exercises is very specific. You’re going to move from a plyometric lower body exercise to an abs exercise to another leg exercise to an upper-body exercise. This keeps the exercise stress moving from one muscle group to another, and that’s what makes this workout so effective.

You can do the entire circuit only once, or for the more experienced up to 3 times., resting 2 minutes between circuits.

Once setup your Gymboss Tabata Timer will look like this:


Exercise instructions

Get the most from this workout by doing each exercise correctly. Good exercise technique ensures that the target muscles end up doing most of the work. In contrast, doing them incorrectly puts stress on the wrong parts of your body, and that could lead to injury.


1. Split squat jumps

This plyometric or jumping exercise will quickly elevate your heart rate while increasing lower body strength and power. Split squat jumps will make your legs and lungs burn!

How to do it:

• Stand in a staggered stance with one foot about 24” in front of the other.
• Bend your legs and lower your rear knee down to within an inch of the floor.
• Jump up into the air and, mid-flight, swap legs.
• Land with your legs reversed and repeat.
• Use your arms for extra momentum and height.

2. Body saw

This core exercise takes the traditional plank exercise and adds the extra dimension of movement to make it more challenging. You still need to keep your core tight and your body straight, but you’ll have to do it while moving forward and backward.

How to do it:

• Adopt the plank position with your body straight and your weight resting on your arms and toes. Brace your abs.
• Flex your shoulders and pull your weight forwards, lowering your chest down toward your forearms.
• Next, push your weight back and toward your toes.
• Continue sawing your body forward and back for the duration of your set.

3. Goblet squats

Strengthen your legs and core at the same time with this challenging exercise. Use a kettlebell or dumbbell as preferred. Training at home? No problem! You can also do this exercise with a bag of books or something similar.

How to do it:

• Lift and hold your weight in front of your chest. Hold it close to your body, and just under your chin. Step out and into a shoulder-wide stance, toes turned slightly outward.
• Push your hips back, bend your knees, and squat down until your thighs are about parallel to the floor. Don’t allow your lower back to round.
• Stand back up and repeat.

4. Push-ups

It’s not a workout if it doesn’t involve push-ups! This classic upper body exercise works your chest, triceps, and shoulders, and provides your core with an indirect workout too. Love them or hate them, push-ups are a must-do exercise!

How to do it:

• Kneel down and place your hands on the floor about shoulder-width apart. Walk your feet back until your legs are straight, and your shoulders, hips, and feet form a line. Brace your abs and tuck your chin in by looking straight down at the floor.
• Bend your arms and lower your chest to within an inch of the floor. Do not let your hips lift or sag.
• Push yourself back up and repeat.
• Make this exercise easier by bending your legs and resting your knees on the floor.

Workout modifications and adjustments

With this Gymboss Tabata circuit, it’s up to you how hard you work. After all, you decide how many reps you do per set. Go flat out for a max-intensity workout, or pace yourself for something less demanding.

That said, there are a few additional ways you can modify this workout to make it easier if required.

Do fewer sets – you don’t have to do eight sets/laps of this workout. Make it easier by just doing six or even four.

Do reverse Tabatas – instead of working for 20 seconds and resting for ten, do the opposite. Needless to say, this will make the workout considerably less demanding.

Add a “rest” station – instead of doing four exercises, add a fifth rest station so you can catch your breath between laps. This will make your workout a little longer, but also somewhat easier.

Use less demanding exercises – you can make this workout easier by using alternative exercises. For example, replace split squat jumps with lunges, body saws with regular planks, goblet squats with bodyweight-only squats, and full push-ups with kneeling push-ups.

Increase the rest time between exercises – Tabatas call for 20 seconds of work, and ten seconds rest. If you want an easier workout, try 20 seconds of work and 20 seconds of rest instead.


Gymboss Tabata Circuit – wrapping up

Tabata purists may scoff at the very idea of this circuit, but that’s okay. Those of us with an open mind understand that it’s perfectly acceptable to modify popular workouts to make them even more interesting and beneficial.

Done as prescribed, this workout should take 6, 12, or 18 minutes depending on how many circuits you do, so as well as being effective, it’s also very time efficient.