Total Gym Tabata: 4 Minutes of a Quick, Effective Workout

Want a workout that’s fast, fun, efficient and powerful? Then consider a Tabata style routine for your Total Gym! It’s perfect for busy people who want real results!

Tabata workouts start at just 4 minutes, so there is no “I don’t have time” excuse. And once if you have the time for more, you can expand your Tabata workout by adding more 4-minute rounds!

Tabata is a type of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) that was developed by Japanese scientist Dr. Izumi Tabata. The workout consists of 20 seconds of intense exercise, followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeated for a total of 4 minutes (or longer if you choose to do multiple sets). It’s a simple formula that can be used with any exercise for your specific goals.

Formula: 20 sec ON, 10 sec OFF, repeat 8 times, which will give you a 4-minute workout.

By working at a high intensity and using the Total Gym equipment, you can get a full-body workout that targets both cardiovascular and muscular endurance in just a few minutes.

The idea behind Tabata is to push your body to its limits during the 20-second work periods, then allow it to recover during the 10-second rest periods. Quickly alternating between exercise and rest will increase your heart rate and rev up your metabolism immediately. Plus, it’s a time-saver for those with busy schedules. It’s no wonder why HIIT workouts are so popular, they are fast, effective, and they work. Best of all, Tabata is versatile, you can incorporate any equipment you want, including the Total Gym!

One of the biggest benefits of Tabata is that it's incredibly efficient. In just 4 minutes, you can get a full-body workout that's designed to increase both cardiovascular and muscular endurance. Because you're working at such a high intensity, Tabata also has the potential to increase your metabolism and burn more calories in a shorter amount of time than traditional steady-state cardio.

Now that you know the basics of Tabata, let’s get started with a simple Tabata routine while adding in theTotal Gym!

Goal: Total Body Tabata Workout using the Total Gym that challenges all major muscle groups

Intensity: Choose the appropriate incline for your strength level and adjust it to keep your muscles challenged

Directions: This Tabata circuit contains 4 different exercises. Therefore, each exercise is only performed for one minute (2 total sets). It will go quickly, so be sure to know the workout before getting into it!

The formula: 20 seconds work, followed by 10 seconds rest, for a total of 4 minutes.

• During each 20-second work period, give it your all and work as hard as you can.
• During the 10-second rest periods, focus on recovering and catching your breath.

If you want to make the routine longer, simply repeat the exercises for multiple sets. Take a longer rest period between sets to allow your body to fully recover before starting again.

Set Up: Pull-up Bars, Medium-High Incline
Timer APP: You will need watch or timer for Tabata. I highly suggest using a timer APP or there are several Tabata APPs that are available on your smart phone or tablet. Most of these APPs are free, and what I’ve found to be most helpful are timers with big display numbers or a Tabata APP that plays sounds during transitions.

1. Skater Push (R/L)
• Start by standing to the side at the bottom base with one foot on the floor and the other on the glideboard
• Bend the knees and lower into a squat.
• Stay in a single leg squat as the leg on the glideboard pushes it up open and closed. (The lower the squat, the harder the challenge.)
• Work at a pace that challenges your muscles (fast with vigor or slow and steady)
• 20 seconds ON, 10 seconds OFF, switch to other leg and repeat (Note: 1 set per leg)

2. Pull-ups
• Grab the pull-up bars and lie prone on the glideboard.
• Activate your upper, middle, and lower back muscles as you perform the pull-up, then lower back down.
• 20 seconds ON, 10 seconds OFF, repeat (2 sets)

3. Push-ups (incline or decline)
• Incline Option: Assume a plank position with the feet at the bottom base and the hands on the glideboard. (Modify with knees down and keep glideboard closed)
• Perform incline push-ups by keeping good form by activating the core and remaining long from head to heals.
• Decline (Advanced) Option: perform the push-ups from a decline position with hands on the floor at the bottom base.
• 20 seconds ON, 10 seconds OFF, repeat (2 sets)

4. Reverse Lunge Taps
• Face away from the Total Gym and place one foot on the floor at the bottom base and the other on the glideboard.
• Open the glideboard to assume a lunge position with balance and core control.
• Lower into a reverse lunge for either lunge pulses or open and close the glideboard for repeaters.
• 20 seconds ON, 10 seconds OFF, switch to other leg and repeat (Note: 1 set per leg)


If you have a little more energy in you, here’s a Tabata routine composed of only two core exercises to burn out your core! Perform each exercise for 2 minutes (4 sets each), totaling your 4-minute Tabata round.

1. Mt. Climbers (20 seconds ON, 10 seconds OFF, repeat (4 sets)
2. Plank Hold (20 seconds ON, 10 seconds OFF, repeat (4 sets)

Be sure to check out the video to see a demonstration of how these exercises are performed on your Total Gym.

When time is limited and you want to pack in a powerful workout, don’t forget to try Tabata using the Total Gym. It will be your new go-to routine!

Train Hard!


Maria Sollon

Maria Sollon Scally MS, CSCS holds a Master’s Degree in Performance Enhancement/Injury Prevention and Kinesiology. She has obtained numerous certifications in various areas of fitness and is a national conference presenter. Maria specializes in Pilates, Performance Coaching, and Corrective Exercise Techniques and Kettlebells. She is the creator of the Plyo Pilates Method and has developed a series of amazing workout DVDs. She is a Master Trainer for Total Gym, Resist-a-Ball, Body Blade, Peak Pilates, Kettle Bell Concepts and is a freelance writer for Fitness accredited magazines, newsletters, and fitness blog sites. Maria demonstrates her knowledge each day and uses her dynamic creativity throughout her specialized line of work. (purchasable workout videos) (workout clips)

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