Crank Up Your Cross-Training Intensity With This Tabata Ab Workout

Danielle Zickl

From Bicycling

There are countless different ways to train with intervals. One popular method? Tabata training. Popularized by researcher Izumi Tabata back in 1996, this form of high-intensity interval training calls for 20 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest, completing at least 8 rounds.

The study, conducted by Tabata and fellow researchers, found the method significantly increased participants’ VO2 max, a benchmark of cardio fitness, after a six-week period. This improvement can result in better overall performance during both longer endurance rides and hard, fast efforts.

You can use Tabata training for virtually any workout, whether it be intervals on the bike or a core workout like this one, created by Dane Miklaus, C.S.C.S., founder of WORK Training Studio. Miklaus, however, puts his own twist on this Tabata ab workout. You’ll perform a dynamic moves for 20 seconds, then a 10-second isometric hold (instead of resting completely for 10 seconds). This type of “active recovery” will build even more strength in your core in less time.


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How to do it: The workout consists of three separate Tabata ab circuits. Each circuit has three exercises. Perform each exercise according to the times listed below. Rest for 10 seconds, then repeat each circuit for a total of 4 rounds before moving onto the next. Rest for one minute in between each circuit. The entire workout totals 15 minutes, though you’re only working for 12 of those 15 minutes. You don’t need any equipment. An exercise mat is optional.

Circuit 1:

Toe-Tap Crunch

Lie faceup on the floor with both arms straight overhead and both feet straight up in the air—your body should form an L-shape or 90-degree angle. Lift your head, neck, shoulders, and upper back off the floor to touch your toes. Return to starting position. Repeat for 20 seconds.

Hollow Hold

Lie faceup with your legs extended and your arms down at your sides, palms facing up. Lift your head, neck, shoulders, and legs off the floor by pushing your lower back into the ground. Brace thighs, glutes, and core. Hold for 10 seconds.

Crunch-Hold Leg-Lift

Lie faceup with your legs extended and your arms behind your head. Lift your head, shoulders, and legs off the floor by pushing your lower back into the ground. Brace thighs, glutes, and core. Keeping legs straight, slowly raise your legs perpendicular to the floor then slowly lower your legs to the start position. Repeat for 20 seconds.

Rest for 10 seconds, then repeat the circuit for a total of 4 rounds. Rest for one minute, then move on to Circuit 2.

Circuit 2:

High Plank Shoulder Tap

Start in high plank position, shoulders over wrists. With core and glutes engaged the entire time, lift left hand up and tap right shoulder. Return to starting position. Then bring right hand up and tap left shoulder. Alternate shoulder taps for 20 seconds.

High Plank

Lie facedown with both hands flat on the floor. Then push up into high plank position. Your shoulders should be over your wrists, and your legs should be extended so your body forms a straight line from head to toe. Engage your core and glutes. Hold for 10 seconds.

Cross-Body Mountain Climber

Start in a high plank position, shoulders over wrists, core engaged so body forms a straight line from shoulders to hips to heels. Engage your glutes and thighs to keep your legs straight. Drive your right knee in toward your left elbow, then quickly step it back to plank position. Immediately drive the left knee in toward right elbow, then quickly step it back into plank position. Alternate sides for 20 seconds.

Rest for 10 seconds, then repeat the circuit for a total of 4 rounds. Rest for one minute, then move on to Circuit 3.

Circuit 3:

Forearm Plank Hip Dip

Start in forearm plank position, ensuring your elbows on the ground directly underneath your shoulders with your feet hip-width apart. Make sure your back is flat and your head and neck are in a neutral position. Drive your elbows into the floor, and squeeze your quads, glutes, and core. Dip your body so that your right hip touches the ground, then immediately return back to starting position. Repeat on left side. Alternate sides for 20 seconds.

Forearm Plank

To get into forearm plank position, ensure your elbows on the ground directly underneath your shoulders with your feet hip-width apart. Make sure your back is flat and your head and neck are in a neutral position. Drive your elbows into the floor, and squeeze your quads, glutes, and core. Hold for 10 seconds.

Side Jackknife

Lie on your right side with your left leg on top of your right. Put your right hand down on the ground in front of you for balance and extend left arm straight overhead. Engage core to lift head, neck, and shoulders off the mat as you draw left hand and feet toward the ceiling to meet. Lower left arm and legs slowly, ensuring your pelvis does not lift up, keeping your lower back protected and pressed to floor or mat. As you return to starting position, keep core engaged so that left hand and feet do not touch the ground. Repeat for 20 seconds. Alternate sides every round.

Rest for 10 seconds, then repeat the circuit for a total of 4 rounds.

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