female athlete plank

Try this 16-minute Tabata challenge when you're feeling stressed

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Stressed out? This quick but effective Tabata challenge will get your heart pumping and endorphins flowing.

So you think you’re ‘too busy to work out’? Well, we have the perfect solution for you. In just 16-minutes, this high-intensity stress-busting Tabata circuit will have your heart pounding and legs pumping. Plus, you don’t need any gym equipment or fancy heart rate monitors.

The only downside is that even though this Tabata challenge lasts for just a few minutes, the workout is designed to be tough – and requires you to repeatedly push your body close to its exercise limits (but only for a very brief moment).

We spoke to personal trainer Nicole Chapman – the creator of the 6-week online workout programme Power of Mum – to design a bespoke Tabata challenge just for Stylist. Expect to sweat.

What is Tabata?

Tabata is a form of high-intensity interval training (HIIT), explains Chapman. It was originally developed by Japanese Professor, Dr Izumi Tabata to enhance performance for Olympic athletes

“This popular style of HIIT training works in 20-second intervals of maximum effort, followed by 10 seconds rest, and repeated eight times for a total of four minutes,” she says.

Nicole Chapman
Tabata Challenge: PT Nicole Chapman works with her clients to create tailored-made training programmes. IG: @iamnicolechapman

What are the benefits?

Intense, short bursts of strenuous exercise can have a huge impact on the body. Good for your heart, lungs and metabolism, HIIT – or Tabata – workouts typically produce health, fitness and strength gains that are equal to longer, gentler workouts. For example, a 30-minute jog.

“This high-intensity workout helps to burn fat long after your workout has finished. This is known as the ‘afterburn effect’, (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption or EPOC) which requires energy, meaning that you burn calories even after the workout. It can also increase your metabolism and is highly effective at boosting your aerobic and anaerobic capacity,” says Chapman.

Another allure to interval sessions like these is that they can be short – perfect for anyone who feels that they never have enough time to exercise.

“This time-efficient workout can be performed with or without equipment, indoors or out, and is incredibly flexible – almost any form of exercise can be worked into a Tabata workout; proving a great lockdown lifestyle hack to fit into the busiest of schedules,” she adds.

How can Tabata alleviate stress?

Tabata training can be hugely effective in relieving stress, says Chapman. 

“When stressed, cortisol is released into the bloodstream sending you into a ‘high alert’ state. Exercise reduces these levels and stimulates the production of endorphins, ‘the mood enhancer’, giving you that post-workout feel-good factor.

“The vigorous workout has shown in studies to significantly increase the flow of endorphins, effective in improving the brain’s cognitive function and mood regulation.”

The most important thing to remember? “Tailor the exercises to you. It’s important to listen to your body and remember this is your workout, so go at your pace,” she adds.

Short Tabata Challenge:

Beginners Tabata: 

4 x 4 min rounds, performing each exercise for 20 seconds with 10 seconds rest, repeated 8 times.

Round 1 – Alternating leg bodyweight lunge to knee drive

Round 2 – Kneeling commando planks

Round 3 - Bodyweight squat to tiptoe rise

Round 4 – Mountain climbers

Advanced Tabata:

4 x 4 min rounds, performing each exercise for 20 seconds with 10 seconds rest, repeated 8 times.

Round 1 – Jumping lunges

Round 2 – Push-ups

Round 3 - Squat jumps

Round 4 – Mountain climbers

Want more workout inspo? Follow @StrongWomenUK on Instagram for the latest workouts, delicious recipes and motivation from your favourite fitness experts.

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