30 minute cardio tabata workout.

by Janetha on September 3, 2012

in moves,questions answered

hey, guys! happy labor day.

my gym is closed today, and since yesterday was my rest day i decided i better get my butt in gear and complete a workout on my own. i decided to design a workout to complete in my garage! the workout was mainly geared toward cardio, simply because i don’t know what my GPP workouts will be this week and i didn’t want to overdo it on any particular muscle group. i also threw some abs in at the end, because that never hurt anyone, right? right.

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it’s easy for me to make an at-home workout because we have collected quite a few pieces of exercise equipment over the years. however, if you don’t have access to any equipment, you could easily sub out the moves that use equipment and do bodyweight exercises instead. some of my favorites are air squats, high knees, butt kicks, pushups, and.. wait for it.. burpees. yep, i love them. in a love-hate sort of way, ya know? ha!

i kept the workout short–just thirty minutes–which is actually longer than most of my daily workouts. the programming of the GPP workouts is so effective that there really is no need to work out for hours on end… or even half hours on end! i actually received a question yesterday (via my ask me anything box–found in the sidebar to the right) that asked: “I noticed your GPP workouts are not very long… Do you feel like you are as toned as when you did Body for Life? I only ask because doing 20-30 min a day sounds great to me. PS I want your abs :)”

ha! first of all, thanks for the ab comment. i believe abs are made in the kitchen, so if it’s great abs you are after.. start there. as far as how toned i am now versus how toned i was after body for life, i would actually say i am MORESO now than i was then! i am definitely a lot stronger, have more muscle, and have a better shape overall. body for life worked wonders for me to lose weight and get interested strength training.. but i believe 75-80% of my success was due to the nutrition, not the workouts.

don’t get me wrong, the body for life workouts are great! they also aren’t too time consuming, believe it or not. on body for life, you work out six days a week. three of the days are cardio which lasts 20 minutes and the other three days are strength training which lasts 45 minutes. so, when comparing the body for life workouts to the GPP workouts, there is not a huge time difference. what IS different is the actual programming of the workouts. i believe my workouts now are more effective. they take a minimalistic approach–i workout for as little time as possible and it yields fantastic results simply because of their design and the effort i am putting into them. at GPP, it’s balls-to-the-wall for the entire workout. if i give it my all for that sliver of time, i can relax for the rest of the day! of course, i still have to remember to stick to proper nutrition (for the most part…)

it should be noted that when i tried to do body for life a second time around, i didn’t have great results. i believe the reason for this is because my body was used to that routine–it had adapted to that type of exercise and i couldn’t expect amazing results (as i had the first time around) simply because my body craved something new in order to change. that is why i would never repeat any of the programs i have done in the past (like insanity or jamie eason’s livefit trainer.) the great thing about GPP workouts is they are different every single day! sure, we may repeat a certain workout every few months or so… but each and every day i am putting my body up to a new challenge. this has been awesome for gaining strength and dropping fat–my body is constantly surprised with what i am throwing at it and i am constantly changing… and constantly improving. it’s cool.

side note.. here is what the GPP website says about the whole minimalistic approach to exercise.. you may find it interesting and it may help explain why i do the workouts i do these days:

“GPP is about getting you healthy.  Period.  

We are minimalists.  We refuse to do one more rep of one single exercise than is absolutely necessary to accomplish our goal of optimal health. 

We believe the only worthy reason to exercise and eat right is so that we can lead richer, fuller lives.  Lives not limited by capacity and/or self-induced disease.  

At GPP we realize that health isn’t about who the fittest person in the world is.  It isn’t about who can lift the most weight, run the fastest, or obtain the highest work capacity imaginable.  These things are silly, wasteful pursuits.  They have no meaning.  They serve no purpose. 

Instead, get your workout in and go home.  Go be a human.  Do things that interest/edify you.  Contribute to your family, your community and/or society. “

so, there’s my long answer to that question. the short answer is YEP.. and 20-30 minutes a day IS great. especially since it works! and it allows me to go be a human during the remaining hours of my day.

anyway, back to my at-home workout i did today!



each round is 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off. perform 8 rounds of each exercise before moving onto the next. rest precisely one minute between exercises. click on each move for a demo video!

i set everything up in my garage.. fancy shmancy workout room, folks!

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equipment required:
  • tabata timer (see below for options)
  • kettlebell or dumbbell at a challenging weight for the swings and tick tocks (i used a 25# kettlebell)
  • jumprope (i just bought this one from rogue fitness and really like it)
  • set of dumbbells at a challenging weight (i thought mine were 15# but weighed them and they’re only 12#)
  • towel- optional (i laid this down on my filthy garage floor so i could put my hands on it during the mountain climbers!)
  • box or step for box jumps (see below for my option)

i used the tabata pro app to time my rounds. i believe this was 99 cents in the app store.. TOTALLY worth it.

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if you don’t have an iPhone, i suggest the gymboss interval timer. that’s what i used to use for tabatas and i loved it.

i don’t have a box for box jumps.. but marshall helped me improvise and put a weighted medicine ball in our cooler so it was very safe and stable.. worked like a charm.

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no workout is complete without tunes, right?

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don’t worry, my home gym comes complete with a stereo system… right alongside the oats, canned pumpkin, applesauce, pb2, fitmixer, and other food storage… ha. i also spy our broken vitamix.. wonder what i should do with that?

we actually recently purchased this wireless bose docking station from target and it’s the best! we can take it anywhere, no plug required, and the sound is exceptional.

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the tunes helped me power through my thirty minute sweat sesh. artists included ming & ping, shiny toy guns, tegan & sara, and me first and the gimme gimmes. gotta keep it mixed up!

i love that i was able to get a heart-pumping, sweat-inducing, wonderful workout done in the comfort of my own home! i’m off to enjoy the last few hours of this holiday weekend… i have a few new recipe ideas up my sleeve and i’m going to use my free time to experiment. wish me luck!


1. where do you prefer working out?

2. what’s your favorite workout jam?

xo. janetha g.

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RainStorm September 3, 2012 at 4:00 pm

I envy your dedication and motivation!

Have popped by your “abs are made in the kitchen” post too. Lots of people are saying that at the moment, but it’s great to have some clear suggestions of how to change diet ?in small ways) to improve health. Thank you x

Amy M September 3, 2012 at 4:07 pm

Whoa never hear of anyone else listening to me first and the gimme gimmes! They’re so fun…I love “are a drag”

Becca September 3, 2012 at 5:56 pm

I thought the same thing! Love them!

Sana September 3, 2012 at 4:18 pm

I would love to have a home gym outside of my house! It would be amazing to workout with the fresh air :)

Lindsay @ Lindsay's List September 3, 2012 at 4:36 pm

pinning now! love you.

Becca September 3, 2012 at 6:01 pm

Love home workouts – mostly because I can get away with wearing minimal amounts of clothing and not feeling the lease bit conscious. Question – I’ve heard that true tabatas are for “real athletes”/very physically fit individuals. Aka not for your average joe. Also, they shouldn’t last for more than 8 minutes. I personally don’t think a workout can only last 8 minutes and be effective, but maybe I’m not working out “hard” enough. Thoughts?

Janetha September 3, 2012 at 6:39 pm

I have never heard that tabatas should last only 8 minutes.. Standard tabatas only last 8 rounds, but that equals 4 minutes, and you can do as many exercises as you want (each exercise is one tabata–and the tabata is 8 rounds/4 minutes long.) I believe tabatas are a great high intensity training option for ALL people, not just very physically fit people! The great thing about them is you adjust them to your own pace, meaning you do not have to complete a certain number of reps. You complete as many reps as YOUR physical fitness level allows you to, and then you can work up from there. I think they are a perfect option for all fitness levels.

LOL to the clothing thing, I am so with you on that! The only place I will work out in just a bra is my house!

Sarah September 3, 2012 at 10:13 pm

Becca’s right about Tabatas. Your workout looks great, but a Tabata is ONLY a Tabata if it is 20 sec on, 10 sec off for 8 rounds (4 min). It needs to be super intense. Yours still looks like a great interval workout though, Janetha!

Janetha September 3, 2012 at 10:34 pm

These were tabatas. Six separate ones, completing the 4 minutes of a single move, with a break between each! They follow the 4 minute, all out method. We often do tabatas at GPP and will do 5 different ones in a row.. Which is what I patterned this routine after (but added the sixth.)

Sarah September 3, 2012 at 11:40 pm

A lot of people use the term wrong, but the Tabata protocol is only 4 min. If you can go longer, you’re not actually doing a Tabata. It’s a protocol that’s outlined in the academic literature. The term is used wrong all the time though, so I understand why you would be annoyed with my comment. Here’s a decent article on it: http://robertsontrainingsystems.com/blog/the-tabata-myth/

Janetha September 4, 2012 at 10:46 am

I’m going to forward this along to my trainer. Thanks for the link and the info! I am always open to and interested in learning more so I appreciate the feedback.

Neil September 5, 2012 at 12:43 am

Sarah – Dr. Izumi Tabata used several protocol that I am aware of. The experiment we are most familiar with(view the abstract here http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8897392) shows improvement in all metabolic pathways. It was brilliant in 1996 when it came out. Almost heresy if you asked some folk. It took years to catch on. It still hasn’t caught on in some VERY traditional circles.

The mistake we make now is limiting Tabata’s principles to his original discovery. Many, Many variations of Tabata’s original protocol exist that are as effective and efficient as what he created. Many are more effective. In fact, he created variants himself in subsequent years.

I totally understand your thoughts on giving him credit for 7-8 rounds of 20 sec “on” and 10 sec “off,” but at GPP we credit him for anything we do which is similar to what he and his team created. He inspired it and we feel we are honoring him by naming it after him.

Becca – I could definitely be hard on a soul who tried to match Tabata’s original protocol (170% of VO2 max!) their first week trying to exercise. But, even Tabata modified his own stuff to ramp folks up to that level. A person who wanted maximum effect could get it from a scaled down version (fewer rounds @ at less intensity), at first. Remember, “max effect” is individual. This will change as your fitness does!

Janetha – There is brilliance in your programming. “Tabata’s” are exactly what I’d have done to start a week like you did. You are set up to kill it this week. Nice work.

@pluvk September 3, 2012 at 6:16 pm

Great workout! I love the cooler idea… we have so many coolers at our house (thanks to inheriting random coolers when friends and family moved away… I wished they left furniture. I need a new couch! LOL).

I used to prefer working out at home, but lately I’ve missed the social aspect of a gym. And access to all the equipment!

Kelsey September 3, 2012 at 6:27 pm

I really like working out in my office or at the gym. I work from home so it feels good to get out of the house to do something.

Denise September 3, 2012 at 7:08 pm

I prefer to go to my box but if I can’t a bike ride around the lake will do,

lindsay September 3, 2012 at 7:32 pm

Can i join your home gym? I’m liking the food choices as well. And i’m sure the company is great. Love the cooler idea. I need to do that. We collect a lot of gear too. Just got a pull up bar, which i love. Love our TRX and now i need a kettle bell. yes, i must, right?

Janetha September 3, 2012 at 8:31 pm

You definitely do. Or just move in.

Mary Legare Whaley September 3, 2012 at 8:21 pm

Love your setup. I’d kill for a workout space at home. I’m more of a gym-goer, since I seek cardio machines or the indoor track. Otherwise, I run outside. I love my outdoor runs because I’m lucky enough to run by the water. Great breeze, nice view. It’s great. My favorite tunes right now are Owl City-“Good Time”, Pitbull-“Back in Time”, and Train-“50 Ways to Say Goodbye”. GREAT jams.

Janetha September 3, 2012 at 8:30 pm

Thanks for the suggestions! Love Owl City

Errign September 3, 2012 at 8:35 pm

I am much more motivated in a gym environment!

Sarah September 3, 2012 at 10:15 pm

I love that quote from GPP. Especially the last line.

Jessica September 4, 2012 at 6:19 am

I should have definitely done this, or something like it, yesterday instead of drinking wine and watching Honey Boo Boo reruns….
And I’m a gym rat. I need good classes to push me and keep my routine changing.

Paige @ Your Trainer Paige September 4, 2012 at 6:33 am

Ok, I love this workout, but I LOVE the graphic for it, too! Mine usually look like bright, cluttered messed haha. Box jumps are one of my favorite forms of plyo cardio.

Also, you reminded me I’m out of PB2…need to remedy that.

Have a great day, girrrrl!

Corrie Anne September 4, 2012 at 7:27 am

omg. i love the medicine ball in the cooler. that is AWESOME! I prefer to workout at the gym. But it’s a two mile bike ride, and sometimes I just want to do it at home! My back patio is good for that. I like that I can blast music out there. My workouts are generally not all that conducive to iPod listening!!! Fun workout. I saved it to try sometime!

Katie September 4, 2012 at 7:40 am

I’m all about the home gym! I love your improvised box…that’s dedication, lady.

betty September 4, 2012 at 8:47 am

oooooh! shiny toy guns! def a good choice! and i’m going to be using this workout :) thanks lady!

Nicole C September 4, 2012 at 9:10 am

I’d love to workout at home, I just severly lack space and a freaking kettlebell. So, I rely on the gym now and I hate golds gym for the record.

My favorite workout song right now is ’till i collapse’ by eminem. At the gym I’ve been listening to the ‘fun’ station on pandora, when I don’t know all the songs I don’t pay attention to how long they are while i run. Shiny toy guns is fun, haven’t listened to them in a while.

Annette@FitnessPerks September 4, 2012 at 11:25 am

YAY! Love a good home workout :) Sweat is a great way to stay happy!

Les Mills (the designers of BodyPump) has a new GRIT series–30 mins high intensity (strngth, cardio, and Plyo options) I can’t wait to try it! I love short intense workouts! I also love teaching….so I hope to teach it one day too!

ali September 4, 2012 at 1:22 pm

Looks like a great workout Janetha! I saved it to do sometime!! Have a FAB day!

Lisa September 4, 2012 at 2:09 pm

I loved your answer to the question. I keep my workouts short too. To the point so I’m in and out fast and can get on with the rest of the day…well, not right now since I’m trying to balance out my hormones and have to take it easy on the intensity..boo.
I totally go on the GPP site and steal the workouts to do at home;)
And this workout sounds awesome!
I adore tabata workouts. Wow, I used the word workout way too much in this comment…sorry!

Lauren @ Oatmeal after Spinning September 4, 2012 at 2:11 pm

YES! Love this and definitely doing this workout- possibly tomorrow morning! I am living proof of “abs being made in the kitchen” because if they were solely made in the gym, I’d have a 12 pack (I even teach a Core Strength class!). I know that I DO have a six pack under that extra layer though…
I am in love with just making my own workouts- either pyramids or Tabatas or supersets. I like to work out in the empty aerobics room at the gym- BUT I just got a Bosu trainer and a kettle bell yesterday- and already have some handy things at home like a TRX and a step and risors. If I can find the medicine ball I want, I’ll never have to go to the gym again (well, unless it’s for teaching classes…)

Simone September 4, 2012 at 2:17 pm

I wish I had the discipline to work out at home but Im one of those people that need to be surrounded by others and work out equipment to get a good workout in.
as for music i’m a bit of an odd ball and really love listening to the final countdown when i’m about halfway through a run, I don’t know why… it makes me laugh (I think of jobe from arrested development and his magic shows) and I get a burst of extra energy

brita September 4, 2012 at 4:13 pm

woah, that weighted cooler idea is stellar! I love working out at home so i dont have to travel anywhere. The least amount of time it takes to get everything done, the more likely I’ll do it! Don’t have any equipment, but i still get uber sweaty. that’s good, right? :)

Sierra September 4, 2012 at 8:27 pm

I LOVED at home workouts when we had a home gym, but now we are in an apt and I get worried about complaints from the noise of jumping around. Sometimes I do an exercise video like Insanity and hope that the tenant below is out…

I use FitRadio app for workout tunes. The songs change up every couple days and it has a great, consistent beat.

Your box jump station is genius. When I first saw the cooler, I had my doubts

sherice@foodieluvsfitness September 10, 2012 at 1:48 pm

good thinking with the cooler. I was just thinking today “what could I use as a step?” I will have to be more creative! I love the GPP approach. I 100% believe in 20-30 min workouts if it’s HIGH INTENSITY.. and I love to incorporate my cardio in as well!! I asked a girl I recently meet if she’d like to workout as we go to the same gym and she was like “well I usually workout for 2 hrs” I think I might have offended her, before I knew it I had said ” I won’t workout for 2 hrs, that’s a total waste of my time” oops!!! sometimes I think my mouth has a mind of it’s own!!

Marnie July 17, 2013 at 10:20 am

Great workout!!! I teach fitness classes but always seem to run short on ideas for my own workout! It’s crazy hot today and I’m short on time…which made this fantastic. The only change I made was to substitute burpees for the box jump.


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