The 4 minute TRX Tabata Ab workout

The 4 minute TRX Tabata Ab workout

Before I show the 4 minute TRX Tabata Ab workout I will give you a brief history of Tabata and its effects and some Pro’s and Con’s of this type of training.

So what is Tabata?

Tabata training was discovered by a Japanese Scientist Dr. Izumi Tabata and his research team at the National Institute of Fitness and sport in Kanoya.  They demonstrated that a workout only lasting 4 minutes using short duration intervals and maximal intensity can be effective for increasing aerobic fitness. The original research study used cycling as the exercise modality but Tabata can be used on any exercises as the TRX Tabata Ab workout will show. The research showed a 13 percent increase in VO2 max after a six week regime which compared better with other training regimes using longer durations.

Tabata Pro’s

  • Improved aerobic (cardio) and anaerobic systems quicker compared to traditional 20 minute workout
  • Mental toughness, because of the high intensity of this type of training you might want to quit. But if you complete this work out you will benefit from physical and mental benefits. This is particularly good for martial art training and self defence mind set.
  • EPOC which is excess post exercise oxygen consumption. Which to me and you is the after burn effect. So you continue to burn calories at a higher rate after the workout is finished.
  • You can do Tabata with any style of training to help you develop in a particular sport. Boxing, swimming, football, cycling, martial arts. Take boxing for instance if you where punching the bag using different punches or combination for each on interval, you gain both aerobic and anaerobic benefits along with the functional fitness of the sport your training in.

Tabata Con’s

  • Due to the high intensity this is not for everyone and you will need to consider your level of fitness and health restrictions (blood pressure prone to strokes ect) before doing this type of work out.
  • Due to the mental strain and maximal output of this type of exercise it may restrict the exercises you can use as it could cause injury. Imagine shoulder pressing as fast as you can and you lose concentration and drop the weight on your head.
  • Painful. You may think that 20 seconds on with 10 seconds rest is easy but believe me when you’re doing it right (170%VO2 max) and in to the 6 interval you’ll be wishing it was over. This type of maximal intensity combined with the short rest period leads to very high concentrations of blood lactate and this can be very painful and cause discomfort.

So now we know a bit more about Tabata and its effect how do we go about doing a Tabata workout and what do we need?

You will need a timer that can be set to do interval training which beeps on the 10 and 20 second interval and can do this for 8 sets. There are plenty of free phone apps that do this now.

One exercise or a set of exercises you can transfer from one to another easily as remember you only have 10 second rest and you will need this time to recover.

And a place to exercise.

You will need to warm up for 5 minutes before doing the Tabata training and gradually cool down for 5 minutes after.

Set the timer so the 10 second rest interval starts so you can prepare yourself for the first exercise. I normally then put the timer where I can’t see it so I don’t know how many intervals or time is left as it’s human nature to tend to slow down when you know your near to the end which defeats the point of this training and it is always a relief when you hear the final beeps and your know you have completed it which feels great.

The most important thing is that you must use maximal energy for every on interval with no half measures it’s better to fail on interval 6 training correctly than complete the full 8 sets because you didn’t give it your all. Because you won’t see the benefits of this training otherwise.

Below are the exercises I use for the TRX Tabata Ab work out. If you have a TRX the exercise should be covered on the DVD otherwise choose 8 Ab exercise and follow the Tabata protocol above

  1. Spider Man Press ups
  2. Pikes with straight legs
  3. Squat thrusts or crunches
  4. Pendulums
  5. Mountain climbers
  6. Pendulums with crunches
  7. Press ups
  8. Plank splits (you can robot your arms  if you’re not already dying by then)


Thanks for taking the time to read this if you have any questions on this or any other subject don’t hesitate to contact me. My contact details are on the main page in the contact me section.

About Daniel

• Mixed martial art training • Self defence classes/ Pad work classes • Nutritional advice/programme writing • Postural analysis • Body MOT • Sport specific training (martial arts) • 1:1 personal training • Kettlebell Training (strength/endurance)

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