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Try Our Top Low-Impact Tabata Workout (get fit fast)

Written by Laura Salas

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Did you know low-impact Tabata training is a great way to get in shape? It’s true! Just when you were thinking you’d have to start running, pounding your joints with high-impact workouts, or doing heavy lifting seven days a week, it turns out there is an effective alternative. And that alternative happens to be a low-impact version of very effective high intensity interval training (HIIT).

What Is Low-Impact Training?

Low-impact workouts are designed to be gentle, and not jarring, on your body. This type of workout will not involve jumping or punching-type movements, and you will always have at least one foot on the floor.

Why Should You Do a Low-Impact Workout?

You want to lose body fat and tone up but you’re not sure where to start. With so many differing styles of exercise to choose from, it can be hard to decide what program is best for you and which types of exercises you can do to stay motivated, injury-free, and still get in shape quickly.

When it comes to choosing a workout, you want to pick something that will work best for you. While you might have the urge to brush aside any form of low-impact training for fear that it may be ineffective, nothing could be further from the truth.

In fact, if you have injuries, are prone to them, or just want to protect your joints, a low-impact exercise program may be just what the doctor ordered. Issues like painful joints, tendonitis, osteoporosis, arthritis, and problems with balance can be exacerbated with a high-impact routine. Sticking with more low-impact exercise choices is a smart move. Not only will you reap the benefits of working out, but since the exercise is gentle on your joints, muscles, and ligaments, you should be able to exercise consistently more often and for the long haul. And that’s the most important part of an exercise program.

What is Tabata?

“Tabata” is a version of HIIT created over 20 years ago by Dr. Izumi Tabata. He and his team at the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo were trying to find a program to help the speed-skating team build endurance. Not only did low-impact tabata training turn out to be incredibly effective, but the principles of this workout translate to gains in other sports across the board as well.

A Tabata workout consists of eight sets of exercise: the first phase lasts 20 seconds, and you give it your all-out effort, followed by 10 seconds where you will rest before going into the 20-second phase again. A Tabata workout is complete when you have finished all eight sets of the 20-second/10-second rounds.

Try These Low-Impact Tabata Workouts

Remember to always start your low-impact Tabata workout with a 5-minute warmup. Try a brisk walk or a gentle jog before you get started to make sure you are sufficiently warmed up.

1. Kettlebell Tabata Swings—this is a fantastic exercise and will help strengthen and tone your whole body. Start with a medium to lightweight kettlebell and grasp it with both hands. With your feet wider than hip-width apart, bend at your knees and simultaneously push back with your hips and allow the kettlebell to swing backwards through your legs. When gravity brings the kettlebell forward again, forcefully push forward with your hips, and straighten your knees as you propel the kettlebell up with your arms. Bring the kettlebell to about parallel with the ground before allowing it to swing back down and through your legs. Repeat this motion for 20 seconds and then rest for 10 seconds. Do 8 rounds.

2. Tabata Squats—doing body squats is a sure way to get your heart rate pumping and your legs burning. Start with your feet hip-width apart and your hands clasped in front of you. Push your hips back and bend at the knees until your thighs are approximately parallel to the ground. Accelerate back to the standing position by pushing through your heels and straightening your knees. Immediately bend your knees again to move into the next squat and continue in this fashion for 20 seconds. Rest for 10 seconds and repeat for 8 cycles.

3. Battle-Rope Tabata—use two battle ropes (those big thick ropes you see at the gym) and make sure they are anchored at one end and grasp the other ends firmly with your hands. While there are many variations you can try with battle ropes, a good one for beginners is moving the ropes in alternating waves. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your knees slightly bent. Forcefully lift your right arm up, essentially flinging the rope in an upward motion while continuing to hold onto the end. As you bring your right arm back toward the ground, repeat the motion with your left arm and the left rope. This will cause alternating “wave” motions in the rope. Continue for 20 seconds and then rest for 10. Do 8 sets.

4. Tabata Cycling—using an indoor spin bicycle, pedal as fast as you can for 20 seconds and then rest for 10 seconds by just pedaling forward lightly. This should not be taxing in any way but simply allow you a moment to catch your breath while you keep your legs moving. At the end of your 10-second rest, jump right back into your all-out effort for 20 seconds. Repeat 8 times.

Note: Low-impact tabata workouts can be done with just about any exercise as long as it is very intense for you to perform it for 20 seconds. Just remember to take a 10-second rest and repeat the process for 8 full rounds. To add extra variety, choose a couple of these exercises and rotate between them until you complete 8 full rounds, or if your gym isn’t too busy, and you can get to the next exercise within the 10-second rest, you can also perform all four and then repeat for 8 rounds.

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