Log In
Challenge-banner Challenge-banner-mobile

Full-Body Tabatas Live Tutorial Transcript

The transcript of my live Facebook video session explaining my Full-Body Tabatas program.

Full-Body Tabatas Live Tutorial Transcript

Note: This tutorial video was recorded as a live Facebook event. The text below is an edited transcript of the tutorial intended to provide members with a convenient means of referring to and further researching the topics and content detailed in the video.


Hey JYM Army, happy Sunday. I will wait for a few more people to join in before I get going. Today, I'm going to be talking about my Full-Body Tabata training

Wrapping up the New Year's Challenge

Now, for those of you who have been following along with my Train with Jim series, I just completed my Train with Jim New Year's Challenge. That was a six-week program that's still going on for those of you who are still completing the program, but for those of you who started with me January 15th—which was my first workout of the challenge, back in January—and have completed all six weeks with me, we're officially done with the six-week program. All I have left to do is post my final progress photo from today, and I'm done with the six weeks. 

What we did was six weeks of the Train with Jim-style New Year's Challenge, and since I've completed all six weeks I'm moving on now to my next workout program. So while everyone else is finishing up the challenge, and while I'll wait for the next challenge to come later in April—it's going to be my Strength Countdown Challenge, and I'll be doing that one with you as well, I'll be doing these live sessions—I'm going to be doing my Train with Jim. 

Introducing Full-Body Tabatas

So these will be free workouts any one of you can follow, and not only will you get the free workouts but you'll get the free rundown on how to do the program. For those of you who are tuning in now, we're talking about my Full-Body Tabatas training. I've only got two workouts here instead of all five—we're going to be doing five workouts this week—I just showing you an example of two here on the board so that you can actually read them versus trying to cram all five here. 

With the tabatas, now, this style of training—those of you who have heard of tabatas are probably familiar with it more being the cardio, that high-intensity interval training cardio style, so you're probably confused why I'm talking about weight training and tabatas. Well, turns out that using tabatas for weightlifting is a great way to switch it up and a great way to get some new benefits from your training. 

Tabatas Explained

So, what are tabatas? Like I said, you probably have heard of these with high-intensity interval training. Tabatas are named after the Japanese exercise scientist, Izumi Tabata, who actually was working with the Japanese speedskating team. Japan is definitely a powerhouse in the speedskating world, but one particular scientist who was working with the Japanese Olympic team, Dr. Tabata, found that when he had the athletes do 8 rounds of 20 seconds—and this is speedskating—when they did 8 rounds, 20-second bursts as explosive and as powerful as they could, with 10-second rest periods in between those 20-second bursts, what he found was not only did the skaters improve their aerobic capacity, which is aerobic versus anaerobic—aerobic just meaning needing oxygen; anaerobic, not requiring oxygen. 

When you do weightlifting, we consider that an anaerobic activity because it's short and intense; you don't need much oxygen. Aerobic activity is things like running for long distances; there you need more oxygen. So not only did he find that the athletes improved their aerobic capacity—their oxygen-carrying capacity, their ability to take in oxygen, get it to the muscles—but it also improved their anaerobic capacity. Anytime you're doing something like speedskating, where you have that explosive power, there's a bit of anaerobic as well. 

What he found was this combination was absolutely perfect for training athletes who need both explosive power—like a speedskater—and aerobic conditioning, the ability to maintain that power for long periods. And when you think about weightlifting, unless you're doing a one-rep max or you're training in the five or few reps, when you're following my programs and I have you doing 20 reps, 12-15 reps, 30 reps, 100 reps, sometimes 50 reps—those high reps, that basically uses both—it's just like being a speedskater, it's using both—some aerobic capacity, but a lot of anaerobic capacity as well. 

Tabatas and Bodyweight Exercises

When we look at tabatas with weight-training workouts, it makes complete sense. Now, before we jump into tabatas with weights like the bench press, let me take you through an intermediate step so that it starts making sense. I know a lot of people are thinking, "Tabatas, that's where I run for 20 seconds and then rest for 10, right?" No, it's not just running. 

Now, have you tried tabatas with push-ups? It's an amazing way to improve your push-up capacity. Have you tried tabatas with bodyweight squats, using just your body weight? A lot of people will find those 8 rounds of 20 seconds, or 8 sets with only 10 seconds of rest, even with their bodyweight doing bodyweight squats is quite effective, because you're only getting a short rest period in between those sets. 

Bodyweight exercises work very well with tabatas. Well, what is a push-up, what is a squat? It's resistance training. So why not add some weight and, in fact, why not do any exercise tabata-style? 

Tabatas and Weight Training

When we really think about weight training, what is weight training? You do a set for a prescribed number of reps, and then you have a rest period. Then you do a high-intensity set for a number of reps, and then you have a rest period. Weight training is essentially high-intensity interval training, when you really break it down, just that the work periods tend to be much shorter than the rest periods. 

Here, we're switching it around and taking our weight training and making the work periods longer than the rest periods. So it increases the intensity, and it's quite a workout. If you've never done tabatas with weights before you'll have a whole new appreciation for using light weight and for doing the tabata style.

Weight Selection for Full-Body Tabatas

As far as weight selection, you're going to want to use very light weight. Like I said, you're doing 8 sets, 20 seconds long, with only 10 seconds of rest in between. So, depending on the exercise and the range of motion of the exercise, you're going to be doing anywhere—and the speed of your reps—you'll be doing anywhere from probably as low as four reps for something with a very long range of motion, like say a squat—squatting all the way down, all the way up—versus a calf raise, which is a very quick and short range of motion. 

So you may be down—if you're going slow—in the reps, down to 4 reps per set, to even as many as 10 or more on some. Multiply that by 8, you're looking at somewhere around 30 to 80 reps. Even though you're getting those 10-second rest periods, that's a lot of reps to bang out in 4 minutes. It'll essentially take you 4 minutes to complete 8 sets, 20 seconds, 10-second rest intervals. Four minutes. 

Each workout is going to be ten exercises. We're training ten major muscle groups—I have bench press for chest, bent-over row for back, squat for legs, barbell shoulder press for shoulders, barbell shrug for traps, calf raise for calves, lying triceps extension for triceps, barbell curl for biceps, wrist curl for forearms, and crunch for abs. Pretty much the ten major muscle groups. 

So if you're taking 4 minutes with 10 exercises, each one of these workouts will take you a minimum of 40 minutes, with however much rest you take between. If you take a minute rest between each one of those exercises, it's going to be about 50 minutes. So you'll be able to get these workouts done in well under an hour, 60 minutes. 

Now, as I said, weight selection—we're doing anywhere from 4-10 reps per set, 8 sets in a row with only 10 seconds of rest. It's basically rest-pause; it's not really true rest, these aren't true sets. It's basically one four-minute set with a bunch of rest-pauses. However, we're not going to failure right out of the gate, that's why you want to be wise on the weight that you choose for each one of these exercises. If you think you're going to use your 10-rep max on the bench press and then bang out 5-6 reps for 8 sets with 10 seconds of rest using that weight, you're wrong. You're going to hit failure very quickly. 

You want to use somewhere around 50%—not of your one-rep max—of your 10-rep max. So think of a weight that you could do on the bench press for about 10 reps, okay? Have you got that number? Most people know what they can do for 10 reps on most exercises, right? Think of that number—now halve that. That's the weight you want to use when you're doing tabatas. 

Don't Be Afraid to Adjust Weight as You Go

When you do that first 20 seconds, the first one of those 8 sets, it's going to be very light and you might feel that you undershot the weight. Hold on—like I said, you've only got 10 seconds of rest in between all of those. So shoot on the lighter side, don't worry if you've gone too light and it's fairly on the easier side to complete all 8 sets of 20 seconds. It'll still be a hell of a workout even if you went too light. 

If you go too heavy and you find that you're not able to complete a full 20 seconds of exercise towards the later rounds—let's say you've got sets 5 and 6, you're able to do 20 seconds, but 7 and 8 you know are going to be a bit tough, you may not be able to go a full 20 seconds—that's fine, keep the weight the same. However, if it happens early on—you've only done, say, 3 sets and you know you're not going to last 20 seconds for those next 5 sets that you have to complete—you can decrease the weight. So you can adjust the weight if you want, as you go. 

If you find that it's just ridiculously heavy, reduce the weight—or even if you find that it's ridiculously light, you can increase the weight. But before you go increasing the weight, remember what I said: It's going to get very, very tough as those sets go, because you're only getting ten seconds of rest. 

Demonstrating with Standing Dumbbell Curls

So, let's talk before I'll give you a quick demo on what this looks like for you with one of the exercises, and then we also talk about—let's see, where are we here—I don't have any of the one-leg exercises—but for those of you who—like I said I put the link up earlier, check out the link, go to my Full-Body Tabatas article. Read up on it, and you'll see all five workouts. In some of those workouts, you will have single-leg exercises like the step-up. We'll talk about the difference between single leg versus dual leg like the squat, or arm exercises, and how to do that. 

But let's break down—I'll just show you real quickly. I'll just do dumbbell curls so I could stand and talk easily. Even though in Workout 2 the exercise is an incline dumbbell curl, and in Workout 1 it's a barbell curl, I'm just going to show you with dumbbells and I'll break it down. 

Using a Tabata Timer

Let's talk about your timing. You need—let me grab a phone here—you need some type of interval timer. What I find is Gym Boss—for those of you who have been following me for a while, long before we had smartphones and apps, I used to have a little Gym Boss timer that I used to set my tabatas on, and you can set other interval timers. With apps and phones now, Gym Boss—you don't need a device to measure your time; instead, there's a Gym Boss app.

So, if you go to the app store, whether you're using an Apple or an Android, get your—Gym Boss is available for both. You're going to download the app. In the Gym Boss app, it already comes with a tabata built in, so you can just click on the tabata and then it's going to automatically give you 20-second work periods with 10 seconds of rest. All you have to do is wait for the beep—the beep to start, the beep to stop. 

I said somewhere around 50% of my 10RM, so on curls, I could probably do 60s or so for 10. So let's—since I'm going to be talking, I'm going to undershoot a bit. I'll go on the lighter side. So I simply get my timer ready, I've got my weights, and now it's go time. For the next four minutes, I'm basically going to be destroying my biceps.

No Need to Warm Up

What's nice about the tabatas, as we're using very light weight—like I said, 50% of our 10RM—so those first few sets, those 20-second sets, will be very light, meaning we really don't need a warm-up. Those first few are going to be our warm-up. This will take us, with light weight for a warm-up, and then by the time we get into the second half past the 4-set mark—once we get into the 5-6—that's when it starts getting heavy, and you're going to be eking out sets number 7 and 8 hoping you can go for the full 20 seconds. 

Mind Your Rep Speed to Go the Distance

Now, there are a few tricks you can use: Reps don't matter, right? There's not a prescribed rep range—just time. So as you fatigue, if you think the weight is getting heavy, and let's say you were doing curls at the beginning and you're banging out 5, 6, 7, slow it down on those later rounds. Do fewer reps, go a bit slower—you're still doing the full 20 seconds, completing fewer reps, meaning you're going to fatigue the muscles a bit less. That should help you stay with the same weight. Or if the weight is just too heavy to move, pick a different weight. You could do it mid-tabata set, it's completely fine. 

Let's get into an example using—I'm just going to be doing normal standing dumbbell curls, two arms at a time. Getting my tabata timer going, let's make sure it's loud enough—and we're off. So, set one. I got eight reps. I don't know if you could hear the beep, but now I've got ten seconds of rest—there he goes, that tells me my rest is up. Set number two. Got seven there, so eight on the first one but only seven as I slowed down a bit. 

That means it's set number three. Got six on that one. Some camera issues, so pretend I was doing this one all the way through. Got two to go. I went a little light, but it's still a great biceps workout; in fact, getting close to failure now right here with the last one. That's my last set. Now, your timer will typically tell you when it's done, when you've completed it—give you a little congratulatory finish.

Performing Unilateral Movements Tabata-Style

Now, as I mentioned, with one-leg exercises like step-ups what you're going to basically do is you're going to do half the work. So, I'm going to get my timer going, and so what I'll be doing is step-ups with one leg at a time. So, right leg done; now I get 10 seconds of rest and then I'm going to switch to the left side, and then back to the right side—you get the gist from there. 

It'll be about—like I said, you're only doing half the work that you're doing when you do bilateral movements like when you're doing squats, so that means you'll be able to go a bit heavier than the 50% of your 10RM. So you can play around, try somewhere maybe around 75% of your 10RM or even closer to your true 10RM since you're getting about 30 seconds of rest for each leg, because you get that 10 seconds of rest and then you get 20 seconds while the other leg is working. So that's how to do single-arm or single-leg exercises using my Full-Body Tabata-style training. 

Still Have Questions? You Know What to Do

That's your tutorial for the day. You guys know where to get me if you have any more questions on this. You can hit me up any day—Instagram, Facebook, Twitter—I will post this video, this live session, onto my Facebook page. It'll also be saved on Instagram for a day. But on Facebook, you can go back to this day any time you want, and go back and use this as a reference. 

Also, for those of you who have questions, I can't see the questions you're posting right now so save your questions. You can come back here, to this post—like I said, I'm going to save it on my Facebook page—post your question under the video and I will post a response right there under the video as well. So, any more questions you have on Full-Body Tabatas, you can post right under this video on my Facebook page or, like I said, just hit me up on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and also do not forget the JYM Army Facebook group page, guys.

It's critical that you spend time on that page. These are your peers, doing these same programs, following my same philosophies, but they're finding ways that it fits for them. Maybe you're a shift worker, maybe you're a nurse who does 12-hour shifts, it depends on your own situation. That isn't my situation, so a nurse, a shift worker, a construction worker, a truck driver—whatever your situation, they may find things that they've taken my philosophies and adapted them and made them work for their situation. 

Your situation may be more similar to theirs, so if you get an answer from someone who's already done it and has the same lifestyle that you live, it tends to be a bit quicker getting your results because others have already tried this. So spend time on the JYM Army Facebook group page, guys. There's a lot of motivation, a lot of positivity, and just great advice. People are there helping others, keeping you guys motivated. Check it out.

Thank you guys for listening to me on this Sunday, I appreciate all the support. Your continued trust means the world to me. Head to my Full-Body Tabatas article at JimStoppani.com—completely free—and tomorrow I'll be doing workout number one that you see right here, this is my barbell bench press workout in these tabatas. 

Make the Workouts Your Own

The other thing that I'll mention in this tabata workout is I break it up into different styles of training—I have one barbell-only, a dumbbell, a cable, a smith machine—you don't have to do that. You just need to pick ten different exercises for each of those muscle groups, whatever you have access to or whatever you want to focus on, and you could add those exercises. You don't have to do the exact exercises I'm doing, nor do you even have to do the same order that I do it in. You could switch it up.

There is a method to my madness here, the order—we've talked about it before, you could watch that in other videos—but feel free to adapt this any way that you guys like. You know, another thing you could do, is if you don't want to come in here and spend 40 minutes in a day at one time, you could come in and do half the workout—20 minutes—and then come back later in the day and do the other half. Or if you're a beginner and this is too much? You could do half today, half tomorrow. There are ways to make it work for you—just ask me, you know where to get me. Or ask your peers on the JYM Army Facebook page. 

If you have a question, ask. That's why I'm so active on social media. Getting you the answers you need is going to get you the results that you want, and much faster. So ask the questions guys, I'll help get you the answer that will lead to better results. Have a great weekend, crush this workout with me starting Monday. I'll be doing Workout 1 tomorrow. 

I hope a bunch of you guys are training along with me. These are completely free—you get the tips, you get the motivation, you get the advice each and every week, and I'm there training along with you as not only your personal trainer but your long-distance training partner. I'm paying attention, watching each and every one of you who are training with me. 

So, I'll let you guys go now. Study up on the tabatas. For those of you finishing the challenge, keep it up. For those of you who have already completed it like me, congratulations. I hope you're going to hop into the Full-Body Tabatas with me. Let's do this, guys. As always, stay JYM Army Strong. See you guys. Crush it.

Related Articles