The high-intensity interval training wave is still cresting, thanks to its positive metabolic effects and its ability to elicit results. HIIT raises the anaerobic threshold and creates excess postexercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), or oxygen debt. Simply put, metabolism stays elevated for longer after an intense workout than it does after low-intensity exercise.

Tabata™—one of many HIIT protocols—alternates 20 seconds of very hard work with 10 seconds of all-out rest, repeated eight times for a 4-minute set. The metabolic workout presented here is inspired by the original concept, created by Izumi Tabata, and combines intense cardio with strength supersets, which serve as active rest.

Tabata-Inspired Blast Details

Goal: To provide a challenging total-body metabolic workout that will yield results both in mind and body. Mental toughness is one of the most important benefits of HIIT training.

Total time: 50 minutes

Equipment needed: a step, dumbbells and resistance tubing

Music: Create a playlist that generally reflects your audience, if you know what demographic to expect. Music should be upbeat and energetic; 130–135 beats per minute.

Additional notes:

  • Alternate between HIIT intervals and strength supersets (active recovery). Each 8-minute block includes a 4-minute Tabata-inspired cardio set, a 3-minute superset (includes transition time) and a 1-minute recovery. The recovery allows you to start coaching the next set.
  • Vary the tempo for strength exercises so you challenge the body in different ways.
  • Make it clear upfront (perhaps on the schedule) that HIIT workouts are not recommended for people brand-new to exercise.
  • Offer regressions and progressions for each move, since you’ll likely have participants
    of all abilities in your classes.
  • Be a coach! Correct technique and encourage people to progress at their own pace. Remind them to find the option that works for them. An option is only a good choice if they can execute
    it correctly.
  • Educate class members about the harmful effects of overtraining. To reduce the risk of overuse injuries, the harder the effort, the shorter the duration should be. Participants should engage in HIIT no more than three times per week.
  • Clearly communicate intensity during the HIIT sets, which are designed to reach maximum intensity. To keep this level of effort for 8 sets in a row with perfect technique is difficult for even the most elite athlete. Encourage people and let them know that completing all 8 sets may not be realistic. It’s okay to take breaks, skip a set (or two) and come back stronger for the next one.
  • Encourage participants to use a heavy weight for the supersets and to go to fatigue if they want to see results.
  • Coach participants on how to protect their joints by “absorbing” the landing, since many of these moves are power-based.

Warmup (5 minutes)

Prepare participants for the workout by leading them through a thorough, total-body warmup. Good options to include:

  • basic squat with lifted heels (reach arms up)
  • yoga flow: upward-facing dog alternating with downward-facing dog, 4×
  • walk-out planks
  • slow mountain climbers
  • reverse lunges

Work Phase (40 minutes)

Block One
HIIT: Cross-Squat

  • Stand at step end (with bench horizontal), one foot on step, other foot on floor.
  • Cross outside leg in front to touch step with toes.
  • Jump to wide position—one foot on bench and one foot off—into squat. Absorb landing.
  • Perform 4× each side.

Active-Recovery Superset

  • Do prone fly, with rib cage on step and head/chest off.
  • Do incline pushup on step.
  • Perform 15 reps each, 2×.

Block Two
HIIT: Shuffle Straddle and Step-Tap

For sets 1, 3, 5 and 7:

  • Do straddle-step, shuffling forward to end (feet are on floor).
  • Squat-jump, touching floor at end of step.
  • Repeat, moving backward to other end of step.

For sets 2, 4, 6 and 8:

  • Do alternating floor taps from top of step.
  • Add power jump to switch legs.
  • Get low to touch step with opposite hand as toe touches floor.

Active-Recovery Superset

  • From plank position, hands on step, rotate feet and torso as you drop one hip closer to floor; alternate.
  • Lie supine on step and touch ankle as you do a crunch.
  • Do 1 minute of each move.

Block Three
HIIT: Speed Straddle and Skaters

For sets 1, 3, 5 and 7:

  • Do speed straddle (up, up, down, down) on step as fast as you can.
    For sets 2, 4, 6 and 7:
  • Jump side to side, doing skaters on floor. Touch step at ends.

Active-Recovery Superset

  • Do band walk for 1 minute. Step on center of band while holding handles. Take two steps right and then two steps left.
  • Do biceps curl, varying tempo, 15 reps.

Block Four
HIIT: Power Lunge

  • Begin in lunge position, one foot on bench.
  • Explode off step, using leg on bench to lift and absorb landing.
  • Do 4 sets for each leg.

Active-Recovery Superset
Repeat superset from block three.

Block Five
HIIT: Over the Top/Froggers

  • For sets 1, 3, 5 and 7: Go over the top (vertically) as quickly as you can.
  • For sets 2, 4, 6 and 8: Do “froggers”: From floor, squat to touch bench, and then jump, absorbing landing as you return to starting position.

Active-Recovery Superset

  • Do overhead triceps extensions with band, 15 reps, 2×.

Cooldown (5 minutes)

The last muscle set allows time for heart rates to decrease for the cooldown. If participants need a little more time, add some dynamic movement before stretching all major muscle groups used in the workout for at least 15 seconds each. Include the following:

  • calves
  • quadriceps
  • hamstrings
  • hip flexors
  • back
  • glutes
  • chest
  • arms

Purchase the online course Turbo Tabata by Greg Sellar in the IDEA Fit Pro Store and earn up to 2 CECs.