12-Minute Full-Body Tabata Workout Routine

This 12-minute Tabata workout is one of those do-anywhere, do-anytime kind of workouts. Move through lunges, air plunges and side jumps to activate the legs, core, and upper body all while getting your heart rate up.

What exactly is Tabata?

The Tabata workout method was created by Dr. Izumi Tabata, a Japanese professor, while he was researching the efficiency of Japan’s Olympic speed skating team. His studies found that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) improved aerobic capacity (the heart and lungs’ ability to get oxygen to muscles) and anaerobic capacity (ability to exercise at a high intensity for a longer period of time) as well.

Tabatas are performed for a total of 4 minutes – 20 seconds of intense activity followed by 10 seconds of rest for 8 rounds.

12-minute full-body Tabata workout

Tabata training is challenging, especially when you give it your all in each 20-second interval. In this workout you’ll do three different 4-minute Tabatas, resulting in 12 minutes of hard exercise.

Grab a stopwatch or use your phone and get moving. Leave 30-60 seconds in between Tabatas to rest and allow your heart rate to come down.

Tabata #1: Alternating back lunges, hands behind head

This exercise targets the lower body. Engage your core throughout to stabilize as you lunge backward and forward. To modify, rest your hands on your hips or hold hand weights by your side. Remember not to let your front knee extend beyond your toes, keep your neck long and shoulders relaxed.

Complete 8 rounds of 20 seconds on, 10 seconds of rest.

How to do back lunges (reverse lunges):

  1. Stand with feet shoulder-width distance apart and place your hands lightly behind head (like a crunch)
  2. Step backward with one leg, bending the knee to drop hips
  3. Descend until rear knee nearly touches floor and the front knee comes directly above the ankle
  4. Return to start position by driving through heel of front foot while pushing off rear foot

Tabata #2: Air plunge

Your core will feel the burn in this second Tabata. Count how many air plunges you do in the first 20 seconds, then try to maintain that pace for all 8 rounds. As you move, keep your neck and shoulders relaxed. Engage your core throughout the entire movement and keep your lower back on the ground at all times. If you need extra support, place your hands under your butt.

How to do air plunges:

  1. Lie on your back with hands extended by your sides and lower back pressed into the floor
  2. Bring knees to chest and kick straightened legs up to lift hips off the floor
  3. Tuck knees in toward stomach then extend legs straight to hover several inches above the floor
  4. Tuck knees back to start position

Tabata #3: Side jumps

The last Tabata is all cardio. To power through this one, recruit the strength of your legs and core. Keep your chest up and core engaged throughout the entire movement. Stay light on your feet and make it more challenging by turning it into a tuck jump moving side-to-side.

How to do side jumps:

  1. Stand with feet hip-width distance apart and bend at knees while driving your hips back
  2. Forcefully push off the floor, jumping to the right
  3. Land softly with a bend in the knees to absorb the impact, then jump to the left
  4. Alternate between sides until the 20 seconds is up

The more effort you put in, the better results. Work your hardest during every 20-second interval and the 12 minutes will be over before you know it.