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Six-Pack Boot Camp: Fat-Burning, Abs-Sculpting Tabatas

The leaner you are, the more visible your abs will be. Nutrition is the most important factor when it comes to losing body fat, but training plays a big role, too. And no training style is more effective for fat loss than high-intensity interval training, which consists of alternating bouts of all-out work with low intensity or full rest in a given workout.

The nice thing about HIIT is that it doesn’t take long — it’s a much more efficient way to do cardio than a long, slow walk or jog. A prime example of this is the technique used in the following workout: Tabatas, during which you go 20 seconds “on” (high intensity) and 10 seconds “off” (full rest) for eight rounds, four minutes at a time. ISSA-certified trainer Aneshea Shali, owner of Core Camp Challenge and former U.S. Marine, designed this workout to get your heart rate up and sweat dripping down your brow in no time.

In Shali’s workout, you’ll do two separate Tabatas with a short break between them, which will have you finished in no more than 10 to 12 minutes. In each Tabata, you’ll perform four different bodyweight-only exercises, doing each twice in the span of eight rounds. The exercises go back and forth between full-body moves like burpees, jumps and squats to isolated core work like planks and V-ups. 

“The high-intensity calisthenics are great for burning calories and body fat, and the isolation exercises will help sculpt the muscles of the core,” says Shali, explaining the rationale behind her Tabata programming. “This workout is short, sweet and effective!”

Fat-Burning, Ab-Sculpting Tabata Workout

For each of the below Tabata HIIT routines, do eight rounds of 20 seconds for the exercises listed, with 10 seconds of complete rest between each round. You’ll rotate through four different exercises per Tabata, doing each move for two 20-second intervals.  

For example, in Tabata No. 1, you’ll do burpees for 20 seconds straight, rest 10 seconds; Supermans for 20 seconds, rest 10 seconds; star jumps for 20 seconds, rest 10 seconds; V-ups for 20 seconds, rest 10 seconds; and then repeat one more time through. Rest two to four minutes, then do the same thing for Tabata No. 2.

Tabata No. 1
Rounds 1 and 5 Burpee
Rounds 2 and 6 Superman
Rounds 3 and 7 Star Jump
Rounds 4 and 8 V-Up
Rest two to four minutes (depending on your fitness level).
Tabata No. 2
Rounds 1 and 5 Squat With Front Kick
Rounds 2 and 6 High-Plank Reverse Leg Lift
Rounds 3 and 7 Squat With Side Leg Raise
Rounds 4 and 8 Reverse Crunch

Exercise Descriptions and Tips

Burpee

Execution: From a standing position, perform the following sequence quickly yet under control: (1) Lean forward and squat all the way down until your hands are flat on the floor around shoulder-width apart and in front of your feet; (2) kick your feet back behind you to assume a push-up position; (3) do one push-up; (4) pull your knees back underneath you; and (5) stand back up and go immediately into a vertical jump with your hands overhead. That’s one burpee.

Shali’s Coaching Cue: “Find your pace on these. Some people do burpees really fast, and others do them more deliberately and are strict on every phase of the exercise. Choose whichever style you’re comfortable with. The important thing is to keep moving the entire 20 seconds.”

Superman

Execution: Lie facedown on the floor with your arms bent and out to the sides. Keeping your knees extended, contract your glutes to pull your legs straight up while simultaneously contracting your lower-back muscles to lift your chest and arms off the floor. Return down to the ground and repeat for reps. 

Shali’s Coaching Cue: “Concentrate on pulling the legs up purely with the glutes. You should feel a strong contraction. In the upper body, focus on pulling your shoulder blades together and working those upper-back ‘posture’ muscles.”

Star Jump

Execution: Stand in an open area of floor space with your feet hip-width apart and knees slightly bent. Dip down into a knee bend (partial squat) and immediately reverse it to jump vertically as high as possible. While doing so, briefly spread your arms and legs apart in midair and bring them back down/together by the time you land. Land with slightly bent (“soft”) knees to absorb the impact, then repeat. 

Shali’s Coaching Cue: “Go for maximum height on every jump. Between jumps, take a second to regroup if you need to. Advanced individuals may be able to bounce right up into the next rep.”

V-Up

Execution: Lie faceup on the floor with your legs extended and arms overhead. Simultaneously lift your legs and upper body off the floor to touch your hands to your toes (legs straight throughout) so that your legs and torso form a “V” shape. Lower back down and repeat for reps. 

Shali’s Coaching Cue: “V-ups are harder than they look. This is really an advanced exercise, so take it slow and don’t get discouraged if you can’t get your hands to your toes on every rep. Half reps are fine as long as you can still feel it in your midsection.”

Squat With Front Kick

Execution: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your hands behind your head. Go into a full squat, then come back up and forcefully kick one leg out in front of you at the top. Go down into another squat, and kick the opposite leg at the top. Alternate legs every rep for the duration of the set (20 seconds).  

Shali’s Coaching Cue: “Go for power on the kick. Both the hip flexors and lower abs are working here. When you’re squatting, keep the core engaged.”

High-Plank Reverse Leg Lift

Execution: Assume a high-plank position with your hands and toes on the floor and your body in a straight line. Keeping your torso stable, contract your glute to lift one leg straight up off the floor as high as possible, keeping that knee straight. Lower back down, then repeat with the opposite leg. Alternate legs every rep. 

Shali’s Coaching Cue: “Stay still in the upper body, stabilizing yourself with a tight core, and keep the movement focused on the glutes. It’s easy to lose your balance on this one, so keep the motion under control.”

Squat With Side Leg Raise

Execution: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms in front of you for balance. Go into a full squat, then come back up and forcefully kick one leg straight out to the side at the top of the rep. Go down into another squat, and kick the opposite leg out to the side at the top. Alternate legs every rep for the duration of the set (20 seconds).  

Shali’s Coaching Cue: “I love this exercise for totally targeting the glutes. Bring the leg up as high as possible on the side leg raise.”

Reverse Crunch

Execution: Lie on your back with your feet off the floor and legs bent. Keep your arms on the floor near your hips or placed beneath your glutes for stability. Contact your abs to lift your hips straight up off the floor while also extending your legs. At the top, your glutes and lower back should be off the floor. Lower your hips back to the floor and repeat.

Shali’s Coaching Cue: “Really think about pushing your hips off the floor and up to the ceiling on every rep. This shouldn’t be just a leg lift.”

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