Total body fitness with the Tabata technique

Finding time to exercise is a challenge. Finding the right exercise, one you will actually do, takes trial and error. For some, the gym is the right place to work out, but for others, training with a small group or independently is a better option.

Sara Midturi, a registered dietician and total body fitness instructor, teaches Tabata training at the Summit Community Center in Temple.

“Tabata is a type of High-Intensity Interval Training that consists of eight 20-second rounds of ‘work’ with a 10-second rest in between each,” she explained. “This is a 20-minute total body workout consisting of four Tabatas.”

Midturi said the goal with Tabata is to work as hard as you can, doing as many reps as possible, while maintaining good form. “If your form starts to go, you need to modify by going slower, lowering the weight, or isolating the movements (e.g. doing just a bicep curl or just a forward lunge but not both at the same time).”

Midturi has been teaching the Tabata technique since 2012 and stresses the importance of exercise for people of all ages.

Tabata offers a variety of exercises that focus on a strong core and healthy body weight. “Muscle tone will change, but a lot of that is based on genetics,” she said. “We are here with the collective goal to be strong and healthy.”

Try the tabata technique

Sara Midturi recommends the following routine:

Tabata 1: Two rounds of Exercise 1; then two rounds of Exercise 2; two rounds of Exercise 1 and finally two rounds of Exercise 2, for a total of eight work intervals.

Tabata 2: Exercise 3 and 4, alternating as above

Tabata 3. Exercise 5 and 6, alternating as above

Tabata 4: Exercise 7 and 8, alternating as above

Rest for 10 seconds after each “work” interval and one minute after each Tabata. “You can use a timer to keep track of your work/rest times or there are lots of apps that have these types of timers. I use one called TabataPro,” she said.

“We sometimes use a Tabata format in our Total Body class, and it is definitely my favorite way to get a quick and effective workout on days when I can’t make it to the gym.”

Do five to 15 reps of each move, depending on your fitness schedule. Use weights from five to 15 pounds based on your fitness level. Decrease or increase your weight as needed.

Tabata 1, Exercise 1: Press Jack

Works total body, with a focus on the shoulders. Hold a single dumbbell in each hand and press up into a shoulder press while you are doing a jumping jack.

Tabata 1, exercise 2: Sumo squat

Works glutes, hamstrings, upper back and shoulders. Start and finish in same position.

With a dumbbell in each hand, start with palms facing in. Feet should be slightly more than shoulder width apart with toes pointing out.

With chest up, back straight, lower your arms in front of your hips as you shift your weight to your heels and squat. Keep arms straight, do not lock elbows. Slowly stand up as you lead with your elbows to also raise your arms and bring weights up to your collar bone.

Tabata 2, exercise 1: running in place

Keeping your abs tight run in place, exploding off your toes and bring your knees up to your waist.

Tabata 2, exercise 2: Push up press

Works abs, triceps, core and chest.

On a yoga mat, take two dumbbells and place one on either side of the mat. Start with three pushups then come up on your knees to do three dumbbell shoulder presses.

Pick up dumbbells. Start with palms facing inward. Press up to ceiling turning palms outward as you reach. Repeat alternating sets of pushups and presses until time is up.

Modification: Do knee pushups. Keep your back straight and elbows in.

Tabata 3, exercise 1: Lateral squat jump

Start in a squat with your weight on your heels. Explode up and jump to the right. Come back down, chest up. This time explode up and jump to your left. Repeat alternating sides for duration of time.

Modification: Step, side step, squat.

Tabata 3, exercise 2: Front Lunge with bicep curl

Stand in a natural position with a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing forward. Take a big step forward and lunge. Keep your knee at a 90 degree (right) angle. Curl your palms up to your shoulder at the same time as you lunge. Return to starting position and repeat with the opposite leg.

Do not let your knee touch the floor.

Modification: Go down as far as comfortable for you. Use a lighter weight.

Tabata 4, exercise 1: Knee jack with lunge

This can be done without a weight or with a weight for an advanced move.

Stand with your feet together and hold a weight in your right hand. Raise your arm up to the ceiling – keep your arm straight but do not lock elbow. With your abs tight and your arm extended, lunge back with your left leg. Slowly rise out of the lunge and bring your left knee up while at the same time bending your right elbow and bring it down so your elbow and knee are almost touching. Continue with this arm and leg for the whole 20 second work interval. Switch to left arm and right leg with the next set.

Tabata 4, exercise 2: Chest fly with leg lift

Lay down on your yoga mat. Hold your arms up with a weight in each hand, palms in and weights touching. Also, hold your legs straight up. Lower your arms out to the sides (arms should be almost fully extended with slightly bent elbows) and then raise them back to starting position. Concentrate on squeezing your chest as you raise your arms up. Complete three chest flys. Lower legs, do not touch the floor, and do three leg lifts; Alternate three chest flys and three leg lifts.

Modification: For a more advanced move, combine the two exercises and extend your legs at the same time that you lower your arms, then also raise arms and legs at the same time.

Catherine Hosman is editor of Tex Appeal Magazine. Contact her at or 254-501-7511.