This Core-Centric Tabata Workout Gets Your Whole Body Moving

Get those fast-twitch muscle fibers firing in just four(!!) minutes.

Guilty of skipping core work? Alison Staples, coach at &Running in Howard County, Maryland, has a four-minute workout just for you.

Performed with all four exercises or cycling through just two of them, this Tabata workout strengthens all the foundational core muscles that stabilize your spine and power your stride, getting you fit for those more demanding runs. “This Tabata abs workout will not only challenge your core and leave you feeling energized, but it will also engage and activate those fast-twitch muscles needed for speed during hard workouts,” Staples tells Runner’s World.


The beauty of these bodyweight exercises: While they bring a focus to your core, they also get the entire body moving, so they’re great for whenever you need a burst of cardio. And they travel well, too, as you don’t need any equipment or much space, and they don’t spend too much time on the ground, either. Plus, thanks to the Tabata-style structure, you’ll be done and out in under five minutes.

“Doing Tabata workouts is a great way to get in a heart-pumping workout in a short amount of time,” Staples says.

How to use this list: Following Tabata protocol, work at a high intensity (your all-out effort, if possible) for 20 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds. Complete a total of 8 rounds or 4 minutes of work. Choose one exercise from the list below for the entire workout (8 rounds), two moves to repeat for 4 total rounds, or cycle through all four exercises twice.

Each move is demonstrated by Staples in the video above so you can master the proper form. An exercise mat is recommended.


Cross-Body Heel Tap

Stand with feet hip-width apart, chest lifted, hands behind head. Lift right knee to hip level and point it away from body as you lower the left arm. Bring right heel toward left fingertips. Return to the starting position and repeat on the opposite side. Maintain an upright position (don’t crunch) as you continue to alternate.


Cross-Body Knee Drive

Stand with feet wider than shoulder-width apart, left foot slightly staggered behind right, toe pointed. Bring both hands directly over right shoulder (interlace fingers or place one hand over the other). Maintaining a soft bend in right knee, quickly drive left knee up and across body so knee meets hands. Return to the starting position and immediately begin the next rep. Repeat. Switch sides with each new round.


Plank Jump

Start in a high plank position with feet shoulder-width apart, arms straight, shoulders stacked over wrists, and core, glutes, and legs engaged. Your body should form one straight line from the top of head to heels. Keeping back flat, jump both feet in, bringing knees to chest and softly landing on the balls of feet. Immediately jump back to a plank position, keeping hips up. Continue jumping in and out, keeping upper body as stable as possible.


Alternating Jump Lunge With Twist

Bring hands in front of chest and drop into a lunge position by stepping left leg backward and bending both legs about 90 degrees. Keep chest lifted, allow left knee to hover above the ground, and keep right knee centered over ankle. Explosively jump straight up and switch legs in the air, landing softly in a lunge with left leg in front and right knee hovering above the ground. Holding the lunge and keeping hips stable, turn torso to the left. Then return to center. Jump and switch legs again, this time twisting to the right. Continue to jump and twist, alternating sides.

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