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Total-Body Workouts for Women

Tabata-Inspired Strength Workout

Work those muscles in four minutes flat. No kidding!

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You know Tabata as a form of high-intensity training that involves 20 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of rest.

And while the original Tabata research involved extreme cardiovascular exercise — exercise so tough that it would be hard for even the most diehard fitness enthusiast to replicate — the principles of Tabata can be applied to any workout. “It’s really about using timed intervals instead of sets or repetitions,” explains Nick Tumminello, owner of Performance University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida — which means that even strength workouts can get a jolt by employing Tabata’s principles.

Exerting maximum effort within a small timeframe gives you a different type of goal, and also delivers different results from your standard sets: Tumminello explains that because you are focusing more on the effort you put forth rather than a certain number of reps, your overall workout intensity will increase. And if you use an amount of resistance that you can move quickly — but with control — you can even get a slight cardio boost.

If you’re advanced, this Tabata-inspired workout may not be challenging enough to build muscle, but when you’re pressed for time, this workout can help prevent losses in strength. And if you’re new to strength training, it can be the perfect way to get your feet wet.

The Workout

You’ll need a stopwatch and a pair of dumbbells — choose a weight that will fatigue your muscles in 40 seconds — then begin with the first of the four exercises. Maintain a peppy pace for 20 seconds — still minding your form as you move – rest for 10 seconds, then repeat. Once you’ve completed two rounds, move on to the next exercise, employing the format above. Or, for variety, do only one round of each exercise, performing each move for 20 seconds and resting for 10 seconds. Move from one exercise to the next, and after one round, repeat from the top.

If you’re new to strength training, do this workout three or four times per week on non-consecutive days. Otherwise, use it whenever you have just a few minutes to spare for strength training.

Lunge With Biceps Curl - Tabata Workout

Lunge With Biceps Curl

How to: Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold a dumbbell in each hand, with your arms at your sides and palms facing forward. Step your right foot forward and bend your legs to lunge. As you lower, bring the weights towards your shoulders, keeping your elbows tight to the sides of your body. Reverse the move to return to the start, and repeat, alternating legs.

Squat Thruster - Tabata Workout

Squat Thruster

How to: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, and hold a dumbbell in each hand in front of your shoulders, with your palms facing in. Bend your legs to squat; your elbows should touch your knees at the bottom. As you extend your legs, press the weights overhead. Lower your arms and repeat.

Shoulder Tap Push-Up - Tabata Workout

Shoulder Tap Push-Up

How to: Get into a push-up position on the floor, with your hands just wider than your shoulders. Bend your arms to lower your chest towards the floor, making sure that your back doesn’t sag. As you return to the start, tap your left shoulder with your right hand. Repeat, alternating shoulders.

Bridge With Triceps Extension

Bridge With Triceps Extension

How to: Lie face up with your feet flat on the floor. Hold a weight in each hand, and extend your arms towards the ceiling so they are over your shoulders, with your palms facing in. Lift your hips from the floor and contract your abs to come into a bridge. Bend your right elbow, keeping your upper arm perpendicular to the floor, and lower the weight towards your head. Extend your arm and continue, alternating sides.