7 Fat-burning Tabata workout exercises you can do anywhere

Tabata workouts offer a quick, efficient way to boost your fitness levels and increase calorie burn.

Originating from the high-intensity training regime developed by Japanese scientist Dr. Izumi Tabata, these workouts are structured in short bursts.

You exert maximum effort for 20 seconds, followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeating this cycle eight times for four minutes per exercise.

Let’s focus on seven specific exercises that utilize the Tabata format to help you achieve significant fat loss and muscle toning.

Each exercise will be broken down into easy-to-follow steps, ensuring you can perform it safely and effectively wherever you are.

Additionally, we’ll highlight the key benefits of each exercise so you can understand exactly how they contribute to your overall fitness goals.

Are Tabata workouts good for fat loss?

Tabata workouts are incredibly effective for fat loss. These high-intensity interval training (HIIT) sessions elevate your heart rate and metabolism, leading to increased calorie burn during and after your workout.

With their short bursts of intense activity followed by brief rest periods, Tabata workouts maximize fat oxidation and improve overall cardiovascular health. 

Tabata workouts offer a fast, high-intensity approach to fitness, combining strength and cardio exercises for maximum fat burning [1]. They’re an excellent choice if you’re looking to shed excess fat and boost your fitness level.

Each exercise follows a structure of 20 seconds of intense activity followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeated eight times for four minutes total. 

Let’s talk about the seven fat-burning Tabata exercises you can easily do wherever you are.

1. High knees

High knees are a great cardio exercise to incorporate into your Tabata workout. They elevate your heart rate quickly, engaging your core while strengthening your legs.

High knees mimic running but require lifting your knees higher than usual. This movement enhances agility and boosts stamina.

ExerciseHigh knees
Fat-burning aspectElevates heart rate quickly, increasing calorie burn
Muscles engagedCore muscles, quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves
Intensity levelHigh

Here’s how to perform high knees:

  • Stand tall, feet hip-width apart, and engage your core.
  • Begin jogging in place while raising your knees as high as possible, aiming for hip level.
  • Keep your arms moving, swinging them naturally like you would when running.
  • Stay light on your feet and maintain a fast pace for maximum benefit.

This move can be easily adapted for beginners and advanced athletes alike. If you’re starting, march in place while lifting your knees high. For a greater challenge, vary your speed or add forward and backward movements.

2. Mountain climbers

Mountain climbers are a full-body exercise that combines core strength and cardio for an intense, efficient workout. They simulate climbing a mountain while engaging your abs, legs, and shoulders, giving you a dynamic challenge.

ExerciseMountain climbers
Fat-burning aspectIncreases heart rate rapidly, aiding in fat burning
Muscles engagedCore muscles, shoulders, chest, and legs
Intensity levelHigh

Here’s how to do mountain climbers:

  • Start with your wrists exactly beneath your shoulders in the high plank position [2].
  • Bring your right knee up to your chest while using your core.
  • Legs quickly exchange, with your right leg returning to the beginning position and your left knee coming forward.
  • Alternate knees as fast as possible while maintaining a steady plank.

Focus on keeping your hips level and your shoulders stable as you drive your knees forward. Move quickly but with control, maintaining proper form. 

To increase the challenge, add a resistance band around your ankles for extra tension. This exercise will get your heart pumping while improving stability and muscle endurance.

3. Burpees

Burpees deliver an intense full-body workout that combines cardio, strength, and agility into one movement. They challenge your upper and lower body muscles while also elevating your heart rate for effective fat-burning.

Fat-burning aspectCombines cardio and strength to burn maximum calories
Muscles engagedChest, shoulders, triceps, core, quadriceps, and glutes
Intensity levelVery high

Follow these steps to perform a burpee:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Drop into a squat and place your hands on the ground.
  • Jump your feet back into a plank position.
  • Do one push-up, keeping your elbows close to your ribs.
  • Hop your feet back toward your hands, returning to the squat position.
  • Explode upward into a vertical jump with your arms reaching overhead.

Maintain a strong core throughout and land softly when jumping. Consider skipping the push-up or stepping back into the plank to adjust for different fitness levels.

Burpees are challenging but rewarding, giving you a rapid and effective way to build strength and endurance.

push ups
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4. Push-ups

Push-ups are a foundational exercise that strengthens your upper body and core, helping you build endurance and tone your muscles. They target your chest, shoulders, and triceps while engaging your abdominal muscles for better stability.

Fat-burning aspectEngages multiple muscle groups, increasing overall calorie burn
Muscles engagedChest, shoulders, triceps, core, and back
Intensity levelMedium to high, depending on the variation and pace

Here’s how to do a proper push-up:

  • Start in the high plank posture with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
  • Keep your body straight from head to heels, engaging your core.
  • With your elbows bent at a 45-degree angle, lower your chest toward the floor.
  • Push back up to the starting position while keeping your body straight.

For those new to push-ups, start with your knees on the ground or use an elevated surface like a bench to reduce the challenge. To add difficulty, try variations like diamond push-ups or elevate your feet.

Push-ups can be modified to suit any fitness level while remaining effective for developing upper body strength.

5. Squat jumps

Squat jumps combine strength and explosive power, offering a highly effective way to tone your lower body and boost your heart rate. They target your thighs, calves, and glutes, enhancing muscle endurance and coordination.

ExerciseSquat jumps
Fat-burning aspectHigh-intensity plyometric movement that rapidly elevates the heart rate, leading to significant calorie burn
Muscles engagedQuadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, calves
Intensity levelHigh

Perform squat jumps with these steps:

  • Stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Lower into a squat, bending at the knees and hips while keeping your back straight.
  • Leap as far as you can and extend your arms upwards as you explode forward.  
  • Land softly, returning to the squat position.

To keep yourself stable, concentrate on using your core. Land softly to spare your knees.  Keep your weight balanced in your heels, and aim for quick, controlled repetitions. 

Beginners can ease into the movement with smaller jumps, while more advanced athletes can increase their intensity or combine squat jumps with other plyometric exercises for an added challenge.

6. Plank jacks

Plank jacks combine core stability with cardio, creating a dynamic workout that challenges your abs, shoulders, and legs [3]. They offer an effective way to burn calories while building strength and endurance.

ExercisePlank jacks
Fat-burning aspectCombines cardio with core engagement, increasing calorie burn
Muscles engagedCore (abs and obliques), shoulders, and glutes
Intensity levelModerate to high

Try plank jacks following these steps:

  • With your body in a straight line and your wrists exactly beneath your shoulders, begin in the high plank position.
  • Maintaining a firm plank position, engage your core and jump with your feet out to the sides, much like you would for a jumping jack.
  • Jump your feet back to the starting position, keeping your hips steady and your back flat.
  • Repeat this movement quickly, maintaining proper form and core engagement.

Step one foot out at a time instead of jumping to modify for beginners. Alternate the exercise with shoulder taps or add resistance bands around your ankles for an advanced challenge. This exercise can strengthen your core and increase agility, helping improve overall fitness.

plank jacks
Photograph: eakkachaih/Envato

7. Skaters

Skaters challenge your lateral movements while engaging your legs, glutes, and core, providing a fun yet demanding way to improve coordination and agility. This exercise gets your heart pumping and helps you burn calories while building lower body strength.

Fat-burning aspectElevates heart rate and burns calories through dynamic, lateral movements
Muscles engagedGlutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, and core
Intensity levelModerate to high

To do skaters, follow the steps below:

  • Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Leap to your right, landing softly on your right leg while swinging your left leg behind for balance.
  • Use your arms for momentum, swinging them in the same direction as your movement.
  • Quickly leap to your left, landing on your left leg and sweeping your right leg behind.
  • Continue alternating sides, lifting your chest and maintaining a steady pace.

Focus on keeping your landing light to minimize impact on your knees. Start with shorter leaps if you’re a beginner, and gradually increase the distance as you gain confidence. Skaters offer a dynamic workout that will leave you energized.

What is the cool-down phase of a Tabata exercise session?

The cool-down phase of a Tabata exercise session involves low-intensity movements and stretches that help gradually lower your heart rate and relax your muscles.

Cooling down after an intense Tabata workout is crucial to help your muscles recover and prevent stiffness [4]. It also aids muscle recovery, reduces soreness, and promotes flexibility, ensuring you’re ready for your next workout.

Here’s an effective cool-down routine:

  • Walking or light jogging – Spend about two minutes walking or lightly jogging in place to help bring your heart rate down.
  • Quad stretch – Stand on your right leg and pull your left ankle toward your glute. Hold for 20-30 seconds and switch sides.
  • Hamstring stretch – With your legs out in front of you, sit on the ground. Reach for your toes while maintaining a straight back to lengthen your hamstrings. For 20 to 30 seconds, hold.
  • Cat-cow stretch – Get on your hands and knees, alternating between arching your back (cow) and rounding your back (cat). This loosens the spine and relieves tension.
  • Child’s pose – Sit back on your heels, extending your arms forward on the floor to stretch your back and shoulders [5].

These stretches ease tension in major muscle groups and help prevent muscle soreness. Make cooling down a consistent part of your workout to stay flexible and ready for the next session.

In closing

Tabata workouts are a powerful way to challenge your fitness, torch calories, and build strength with just a few minutes of intense effort per exercise.

Incorporating high knees, mountain climbers, burpees, push-ups, squat jumps, plank jacks, and skaters into your routine ensures a full-body workout that targets your muscles and boosts cardiovascular health.

Ready to feel the benefits? Get started with these exercises today and experience the transformation they bring to your fitness journey. Share your favorite moves and modifications with family and friends. Together, let’s redefine what fitness means for you!


How often should I do Tabata workouts?

Two to three times a week is a good starting point. Ensure you have recovery days to let your muscles rebuild and prevent overtraining.

What if I can’t complete all eight rounds of each exercise?

Begin with fewer rounds, like four or five, and gradually work your way up. Focus on giving your best effort each round while maintaining proper form.

Can beginners do Tabata workouts?

Yes, beginners can modify exercises to their fitness level. Start at a manageable pace and increase intensity as your fitness improves.

Is it necessary to warm up before a Tabata workout?

Yes, warming up is crucial to prepare your muscles and reduce injury risk. A five-minute warm-up of light cardio and stretching will suffice.

[1] https://www.healthline.com/health/exercise-fitness/tabata-vs-hiit
[2] https://www.verywellfit.com/mountain-climbers-exercise-3966947
[3] https://www.healthline.com/health/exercise-fitness/plank-jacks
[4] https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/exercise/art-20045517
[5] https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/how-to-do-childs-pose

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