This HIIT Tabata Finisher Will Close Out Your Workout Breathless and Sweaty

These two moves will leave you breathless.

Reviewed by Christa Sgobba, C.P.T.

Strength training is an awesome way to challenge your muscles. But sometimes, you just want to end your workout feeling breathless. And that’s where a HIIT Tabata finisher comes in.

Tabata is a form of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) where you perform 20-second bursts of maximum effort work followed by 10 seconds of rest and then repeat that pattern for a total of eight rounds. That means Tabatas are just four minutes long—but don’t let the brevity fool you. Tabatas are quick, but they’re by no means easy.

Since Tabatas encourage you to give it your all, they can be “pretty exhausting,” ACSM-certified personal trainer Asher Freeman, creator of the Nonnormative Body Club in Philadelphia, tells SELF. This intensity is what makes Tabatas especially great for a finisher as opposed to an entire workout. Think about it: After working at 100% effort for four minutes, you probably wouldn’t have much energy left to continue exercising. And lifting weights when you’re beat can make it easier for your form to falter, which can set the stage for injury. With Tabata as a finisher, though, you can give the moves max effort—and then head right to your cool-down.

While Tababa may seem intimidating, Freeman emphasizes that Tabata is just a template. “All it is is the time that you’re working and the times that you’re resting—and you get to fill it in with whatever is the appropriate exercise for you,” they say.

That means Tabatas don’t have to feature super-intense, high-impact moves like burpees or jump lunges. There are plenty of ways to modify popular HIIT exercises to make them more accessible in Tabata format. For instance, you can do regular lunges instead of jump lunges, or a plank in lieu of a burpee.

On that note, when designing a Tabata, it’s important to pick exercises that aren’t super complicated for you. “You want to choose something that you know you can do well when you’re feeling very fatigued,” explains Freeman. That way, you reduce your risk of form errors and injury and up your chances of an enjoyable, effective Tabata finisher.