Home / 15 Kettlebell HIIT Tabata Workouts that will Burn More Fat

15 Kettlebell HIIT Tabata Workouts that will Burn More Fat

By Greg Brookes
15 Kettlebell Tabata Workouts That Will Burn More Fat

History of Kettlebell Tabata Workouts

Made famous by Mr. Tabata but developed by the Japanese Speed Skating Coach, this type of training uses short periods of intense exercise followed by a short rest period of half the work interval.

Famously, 20 seconds work, 10 seconds rest.

The Tabata protocol is then cycled a number of times, usually 4-8. Tabata Interval Training has been proven to increase your Aerobic and Anaerobic threshold much quicker than steady state cardio lasting 60 minutes.

Kettlebell Tabata Workouts or HIIT kettlebell workouts only work well if you use the correct kettlebell exercises, they need to be full body movements and intense.

Try these basic kettlebell hiit drills to get the hang of things:


kettlebell tabata workout No. 1

1. Kettlebell Swing HIIT Workout

  • Two Handed Kettlebell Swing – 20 secs
  • Rest – 10 secs
  • Repeat 5 – 8 Times

Benefits – the kettlebell swing is the most effective full body kettlebell exercise both for fat loss and full body conditioning. No matter what your level from beginner to advanced you can always get a lot out of this basic swing workout.

Variations – try changing the weight each round, so you can start light and go heavier or move from heavy to lighter.

Related: 4 steps to master the kettlebell swing for beginners


kettlebell tabata workout No. 2

2. Kettlebell Bob & Weave Beginner Tabata Workout

  • Kettlebell Bob & Weave – 20 secs
  • Rest – 10 secs
  • Repeat 5 – 8 Times

Benefits – the kettlebell bob and weave encourages lateral or sideways movement that is often neglected in workouts. The bob and weave will not only increase your cardio capacity but will also develop good strength and mobility in the legs and hips.

Variations – switch up your speed and depth on each round. The deeper you go the move glute activation you will get and the faster you move the more cardiovascular you will find it.

Related: 16 Kettlebell Lunge Variations from Beginner to Pro


kettlebell tabata workout no.3

3. Kettlebell Squat & Press Tabata Cardio Workout

  • Kettlebell Two Handed Squat & Press – 20 secs
  • Rest – 10 secs
  • Repeat 5 – 8 Times

Benefits – the squat is a classic full body movement and by adding the press at the top you get full body conditioning from head to toe. Depending on your speed you can really get your heart racing with this exercise too.

Variations – try changing the weight each round from lighter to heavier and vice versa. On the lighter round work on increasing your speed. Count how many repetitions you perform each round and try and stick to that number or better it.

Related: How to Master the Kettlebell Thruster the Ultimate Full Body Exercise


kettlebell tabata workout no.4

Kettlebell Single Handed Swing HIIT Tabata Workout

  • Kettlebell Swing Left Hand – 20 secs
  • Rest – 10 secs
  • Kettlebell Swing Right Hand – 20 secs
  • Rest – 10 secs
  • Repeat 4 Times

Benefits – once you have mastered the two handed swing hiit workout then you can progress to this one. Using just one hand puts more strain on the shoulder joint and also pulls the body into rotation so you get more core activation.

Variations – try working on different speeds and heights with each round. Swinging nice and low will enable you to quicken your pace whereas head height will give you more hang time.

Related: 7 Kettlebell Swing Workouts in Under 10 Minutes


kettlebell tabata workout No. 5

5. Kettlebell Clean Tabata Workout

  • Kettlebell Clean Left Hand – 20 secs
  • Rest – 10 secs
  • Kettlebell Clean Right Hand – 20 secs
  • 10 Seconds Rest
  • Repeat 4 Times

Benefits – the clean is a full body movement that when performed at a good pace will really elevate your heart rate and strengthen your hips, legs, core and back.

Variations – choosing the correct weight for your cleans is very important. Try to go as heavy as you can manage and then really drive and work those hips. I remember performing a very tough kettlebell hiit workout of 60 seconds of 32kg cleans many years ago.

Related: Stop Banging Your Wrists and Master the Clean


kettlebell tabata workout no.6

6. Kettlebell Thruster HIIT Workout

  • Kettlebell Thruster Left Hand – 20 secs
  • 10 Seconds Rest
  • Kettlebell Thruster Right Hand – 20 secs
  • 10 Seconds Rest
  • Repeat 4 Times

Benefits – a full body exercise that is as tough on your cardio as it is on your full body strength.

Variations – once you have mastered the standard thruster you can progress to the twisting thruster that uses a rotation at the top of the movement.

Related: Master the kettlebell thruster exercise


kettlebell tabata workout no.7

7. Kettlebell Lunge & Press Tabata Workout

  • Kettlebell Reverse Lunge & Press Left Hand – 20 secs
  • Rest – 10 secs
  • Kettlebell Reverse Lunge & Press Right Hand – 20 secs
  • Rest – 10 secs
  • Repeat 4 Times

Benefits – the reverse lunge will develop some serious single leg strength and condition the legs and glutes intensely. When you add in a press you gain the benefits of more core involvement and shoulder conditioning as well as cardio.

Variations – once comfortable with the lunge and press exercise you should try and increase the speed. Performing the lunge slowly will not see you getting the correct benefits from the tabata protocol.

Related: 16 Kettlebell Lunge Variations from Beginner to Pro


kettlebell tabata workout no.8

8. Kettlebell High Pulls Tabata Workout

  • Kettlebell High Pulls Left Hand – 20 secs
  • Rest – 10 secs
  • Kettlebell High Pulls Right Hand – 20 secs
  • Rest – 10 secs
  • Repeat 4 Times

Benefits – high pulls are the prime candidate for an advanced tabata workouts, they are fast and super cardiovascular. You will also get lots of activation of the muscles in the back of the body as well as the hips, glutes and legs from this exercise.

Variations – try changing weight each round to see how it impacts your high pulls speed

Related: How to Master the Kettlebell High Pull


kettlebell tabata workout no.9

9. Kettlebell Snatch Advanced Tabata Workout

  • Kettlebell Snatch Left Hand – 20 secs
  • Rest – 10 secs
  • Kettlebell Snatch Right Hand – 20 secs
  • Rest – 10 secs
  • Repeat 4 Times

Benefits – the snatch is an advanced kettlebell exercise but excellent for tabata workouts due to its intensity. You will get a good full body workout and conditioning from this format but 30 seconds would probably be better.

Variations – experiment with different snatch techniques, you can use a corkscrew method to bring the kettlebell down or try snatching from a dead stop at the bottom of the movement.

Related: Ultimate Guide to the Kettlebell Snatch


kettlebell tabata workout no.10

10. Kettlebell Double Lunge Tabata Leg Workout

  • Kettlebell Double Lunge Left – 20 secs
  • Rest – 10 secs
  • Kettlebell Double Lunge Right – 20 secs
  • Rest – 10 secs
  • Repeat 4 Times

Benefits – double lunges are tough on the legs, you can expect to be sore from this exercise and have your cardio seriously tested.

Variations – if the full movement is too intense you can always put your foot down briefly between forwards and backwards lunges.

Related: 21 kettlebell exercises for magnificent legs


Now Increase the Workout Intensity

You should now have a good understanding as to how the Tabata Protocol works. Now go through these workouts again but change the intensity to 30 seconds work and 15 seconds rest.

I would not recommend that you go any higher than 30 seconds of work. You should keep the work and rest periods brief to encourage full commitment and maximum effort for every round.


5 Bodyweight & Kettlebell Tabata Workouts

Next, sticking to the Tabata protocol you can integrate some body weight exercises to increase the intensity even further. Try the following combinations by alternating the exercise after each rest period. Repeat each drill 4 – 8 times on a 30/15 work to rest ratio.


kettlebell tabata workout no.11

11. Kettlebell Swing ‘n’ Push Ups Tabata Workout

  • Kettlebell Two Handed Swing – 30 secs
  • Rest – 15 secs
  • Push Ups – 30 secs
  • Rest – 15 secs
  • Repeat 4 Times

Benefits – adding push ups to this workout means you hit the only area that swing are not able to address, the chest. You will also find that getting up and down off the floor also drastically increases the heart rate.

Related: 7 kettlebell swing mistakes that will cause lower back pain


kettlebell tabata workout no.12

12. Kettlebell Squat ‘n’ Burpees Tabata Workout

  • Kettlebell Goblet Squats – 30 secs
  • Rest – 15 secs
  • Burpees – 30 secs
  • 15 Seconds Rest
  • Repeat 4 Times

Benefits – squats and burpees both work the squatting movement pattern so you will find this overload tough on the legs. Plus, cardio is heavily addressed by both the burpees and the getting up and down from the floor.

Related: Quick guide to goblet squats


kettlebell tabata workout no.13

13. Kettlebell Squat ‘n’ Climbers Tabata Workout

  • Kettlebell Squat & Press – 30 secs
  • Rest – 15 secs
  • Fast Mountain Climbers – 30 secs
  • Rest – 15 secs
  • Repeat 4 Times

Benefits – as if squatting and pressing was not enough adding floor based fast mountain climbers cranks your heart rate up even higher. You get some great core activation from the fast mountain climbers too!

Related: 5 bodyweight core exercises every beginner should practice


kettlebell tabata workout no.14

14. Kettlebell Swings ‘n’ Thrusts Intense Kettlebell Workout

  • Two Handed Kettlebell Swings – 30 secs
  • Rest – 15 secs
  • Squat Thrusts – 30 secs
  • Rest – 15 secs
  • Repeat 4 Times

Benefits – another full body blast that is tough on the core muscles and cardio as well as the shoulders. If you get through this workout then you will be doing very well.

Related: 13 bodyweight exercises you should use with your kettlebell training


kettlebell tabata workout no.15

15. Kettlebell Bobs ‘n’ Knees Tabata Workout

  • Kettlebell Bob & Weave 30 secs
  • Rest – 15 secs
  • High Knees – 30 secs
  • Rest – 15 secs
  • Repeat 4 Times

Benefits – you’ll be glad of the bob and weaves during this workout because your heart will be racing from the high knees. Another full body workout that takes in some nice lateral movement for the legs and glutes.


Conclusions

Kettlebell tabata workouts are very effective for both beginners learning a new exercise and for the more advanced athlete looking to be efficient with their time.

Short bursts of intense exercises followed by brief rest periods is psychologically easier to deal with than longer durations of exercise.

Tabata workouts have also been proven to drastically improve your cardiovascular threshold and burn fat more effectively than slow steady rate cardio.

Have you tried any of these tabata hiit workouts? Let me know more below…

52 Kettlebell Exercises Download PDF

FAQ

Why do Kettlebells burn so many calories?

Tabata workouts have been proven to dramatically improve your cardiovascular threshold and burn fat more effectively than using slow steady rate cardio.

What is better dumbbells or kettlebells?

All depends on your goals. Kettlebells should be used in a more dynamic way and therefore have a higher demand on your cardiovascular system compared to dumbbells.

Are kettlebells cardio?

Due to the dynamic nature of kettlebell training your cardiovascular system will be challenged. You can increase your Aerobic and Anaerobic threshold much quicker than using steady state cardio lasting 60 minutes.

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    1. Jaime Avatar
      Jaime

      I’m new to Kettle Bells and am trying to incorporate HIIT/Tabata into my work out. My goals are weight loss and lean muscle. I already have a weight regimen for muscle, but in regards to Denise’s comment above my question was if all the exercises on this page needed to be done to be effective, but it sounds like I could just do 8 rounds of two handed swings and still reap some benefits. My concern is that I have knee problems and lunges, squats, and the like are difficult for me without pain, so I try to avoid those types of exercises. I’ve been a “fair weather” runner for many years, but as I get older that is taking a toll on my knees too, so trying to find other ways to get my cardio in. Thanks for this info

      1. Greg Brookes Avatar

        Yes, that is right Jaime. Traditional Tabata training uses just 1 or 2 exercises repeated for 8 rounds. You could start with the swing 20 secs / rest 10 x 8 rounds. If you can finish all 8 rounds you are doing well.

    2. Louis Tellez Jr Avatar
      Louis Tellez Jr

      Greg you have been an excellent source for KB knowledge, technique. My goal is to lose body fat, gain some muscle/strength. I think am intermediate. Am pondering a combo of 1 or 2, 4 minute Tabatas & a Musclemass exercise. too much?

      1. Greg Brookes Avatar

        That sounds confusing Louis. I’d concentrate on a program for 4 – 12 weeks hitting all the 5 movement patterns. My Men’s program would be perfect for you.

    3. Douglas Adams Avatar
      Douglas Adams

      Hi Greg
      How does the tabata work out differ from your 4 minute work out
      Cheers

      1. Greg Brookes Avatar

        Both the intensity and short rest periods create a much more challenging workout Douglas.

    4. Tom Avatar
      Tom

      Hi Greg. Have to commend you on your excellent instructional videos and content of the website. Definitive source for me on all things kettle bells. Thank you.

      1. Greg Brookes Avatar

        Thanks Tom, just let me know if I can help you with anything.

    5. Patty Avatar
      Patty

      Hi Greg. I love this site. I do your workouts usually every other day. If I’m trying to lose in the stomach and tone my hips and thighs, are your routines good for that? I love the squats with curls and swing.

    6. Jeffrey Avatar
      Jeffrey

      Hi Greg,

      Is a 4 minute Tabata daily really enough to burn huge amount of fat? Can I do 2 or 3 rounds of say double hand saing?

      A little story of my weight lost journey. I am overweight by 20 lbs. Started going to the gym for the first time last November. Been going til mid April. Lost 20 or so lbs and 2 inches off the waist. Then decide to stop because of nice weather u til now. Bad decision. Gain all the weight and inch back.

      1. Greg Brookes Avatar

        Hi Jeffrey, 8 rounds of two handed swings with a 20 second rest in between is plenty if you use the correct weight. Are you using a 16kg?

        1. Andrea Avatar
          Andrea

          Hi greg,

          I’m new to kettlebell workouts, but i love it. How many two-handed swings should i do in each round?

          1. Greg Brookes Avatar

            Start with 10 Andrea and then rest and repeat. Work up to 10 rounds for 20 seconds rest in between each set.

            1. Andrea Avatar
              Andrea

              Thank you greg! I’ve already lost 5lbs and my clothes fit lose. Thank you so much!

    7. AG Avatar
      AG

      Hi Greg!

      This is a great site so I figured it’s proper to ask here:

      I’m determined to lose my obnoxious moob fat that’s been sticking there ever since I was an obese kid. I’m no longer fat, but It’s quite difficult to get rid of it. I’ve been watching my diet and doing HIIT rope jumps with a kind of ‘aerobic’ pushup/stand up/get down drill I saw on the movie Full Metal Jacket (lol) and I’ve already seen results, but I think I need a little extra!

      Anyway, I reckon that kettlebells might be the best replacement/addition to my routine, but I don’t know which weight to choose. I’m not at all interested in getting ‘jacked’; only in losing fat and compensating the loss of body mass with natural-looking musculature so I don’t look miserably skinny (I have a small body frame, male, 31).

      So, given all the above data, and given that I already am kind of ‘fit’, what kettlebell size/weight would you recommend me? Also, I’m poor AF… are there any alternatives to kettlebell for us humble people?

      Thanks for your site and your time!

      1. Greg Brookes Avatar

        Thanks AG, yes I think you will get better results by using kettlebells than just using cardio, although I do like the jump rope. I’ve got more on what size kettlebell to use here.

        1. Mel Avatar
          Mel

          Hi Greg just wondering If say the swing and mountain climbers in a tabata workout for a total of 8 minutes is more effective than those two exercises done in 4 minute traditional tabata done over two days

          1. Greg Brookes Avatar

            Good question Mel, it will depend on the individual and at what level, kb weight etc. Another option is a 4 minute tabata twice per day. You will always need to think about the movement patterns you are overloading so for fat loss you would want to hit as many muscles as possible. So Swings and Mountain climbers for one tabata and High Pulls and Lunges or Squats for the other.

    8. Candy Avatar
      Candy

      Hi Greg great stuff!

      I am returning to exercise after gaining tons of weight following a knee injury due to sports – waiting for my acl reconstruction. I am looking at fast fat burning cardio exercises I can do as i don’t have time at the gym in the mornings after my weight lifting. Would you say this is enough for weight loss? Only 4 minutes a day x3 a week?

      Love your website.
      Candy

      1. Greg Brookes Avatar

        Yes take it steady Candy to begin with and spend the rest of your time focusing on your diet, that will have the biggest impact on your fat loss.

    9. Alex Avatar
      Alex

      For me kettlebellsworkouts.com is the best source of information on kettlebells and workouts in general in the entire Web. I am constantly returning to this site as i progress with my training.
      Thank you very much Greg for putting here this information and sharing your experience with us!

    10. Efim Zabarsky Avatar
      Efim Zabarsky

      beautiful place to learn KB!
      thanks!

    11. Tricia Avatar
      Tricia

      Greg
      These look great and I am just getting back into working out so I like the idea of starting with 4 min a day and progressing. one question, what kind of warm up do you recommend?
      Thanks, Tricia

    12. Nick Avatar
      Nick

      Thanks for the great information.

      I’m a bit confused… I understood tabata to be based on timed intervals, not reps but it seems you are recommending reps. Is the idea to complete a specific number of reps in the 20 second, complete the recommended number of reps regardless of time or complete as many reps as possible in the 20 seconds?

      Thanks!

      1. Greg Brookes Avatar

        Hi Nick, yes Tabata Training is traditionally based on time, in particular 20 seconds on and 10 seconds off. However, if you perform only a few squats, for example, in 20 seconds you are not working hard enough. So often I include reps as a target based on experience.

    13. David Avatar
      David

      Hi Greg,

      I’m an amateur cyclist and do kettle bell lunges regularly. I have a couple of 12+ hour flights coming up and I’m trying to figure out a cardio routine that I can do in flight. Mostly just to cure the boredom. Can you recommend exercises that are intense yet can be done in a confined space? Maybe a modified version that I can do in an airplane bathroom or near an exit door. By the way, ever tried to take a kettle bell in your carry-on luggage? 🙂

      1. Greg Brookes Avatar

        Hi David, I always tend to do a few bodyweight squats during long flights just to keep the blood flowing 🙂 Yes I’ve taken kettlebells overseas but I always put them in the hold due to the weight. Safe travels.

    14. B Avatar
      B

      hey Greg

      is it alright to do 4-8 minutes HIIT on a daily basis? (taking into consideratio recovery time)

      i do 20/10 uphill sprints 16 rounds one day 1, and bodyweight/kettlebell HIIT circuit on day 2

      1 day rest at the end of each 2 day round

      is this alright to do so? or is the recovery mandatory in between (one day on one day off)

      cheers

      1. Greg Brookes Avatar

        Hello, rest and recovery is very subjective, so what suits one person may not suit another. Take a look at this guide here for further information.

    15. Andea Avatar
      Andea

      Hi Greg, Thanks for putting these on here. I’ve just been looking at the Tabata videos, the one for the “Thruster” seems wrong, it’s more like a “squat & press”

      Andrea

      1. Greg Brookes Avatar

        Hi Andrea, the Thruster is a Squat and Press, they are fundamentally the same exercise. Use your power as you drive up from the bottom of the Squat to press the kettlebell overhead.

    16. Santhosh Sihimoge Avatar
      Santhosh Sihimoge

      Thanks Greg, It is really helpful for me. I am doing exercise in mid day that is 2.00 pm. Is their any problem?

      1. Greg Brookes Avatar

        Sounds good to me Santhosh

    17. Peter Everett Avatar
      Peter Everett

      This is perfect for me Greg, thank you very much! I will aim to complete 3 days of these Tabata works per week interspersed with 2 sessions of strength/bulk sessions, 1 targeted at upper body and core and the second one targeted at lower body and core, with a rest day in between.

      Peter

    18. Denise Avatar
      Denise

      Hi Greg. Quick question, should I only do one workout at a time (i.e. 8 rounds of swing) or can i do multiple workouts concurrently?

      1. Greg Brookes Avatar

        Hi Denise, well it will depend on your goals but usually I recommend only 8 rounds, or 4 minutes. Tabata training is very high intensity, so if you start to stack them one on top of another you will have to sacrifice the intensity and then they really stop having the same benefits. My advice would be work on 5x per week of just 4 minutes each day. After 4 weeks you can try 2 blocks of the 8 rounds but changing exercise. Don’t forget a really good warm up too!

    19. Kristin Avatar
      Kristin

      Hi Greg,

      I was just wondering what is the difference between the squat and press and the kettlebell thruster? I was trying to find a video of both of them to compare.

      Thanks

      1. Greg Brookes Avatar

        Hi Kristin, sorry for the confusion they are both the same exercise. However, the one handed squat and press is often referred to as the Thruster. Hope this clears things up.

    20. James Rutherford Avatar
      James Rutherford

      A great bunch of intervals Greg! In your opinion how many complete sets of 8 would you do in a single training session to mix it up?

      It’s probably also worth mentioning that Professor Tabata recommended a solid 10 minute warm up before proceeding with the intervals as well.

      Great work as per usual mate well done!

      1. Greg Brookes Avatar

        Yes, generally the higher the intensity the more warm up you should perform, this is often a mistake made when people perform sprint intervals. Depending on goals I tend to stick to the 4 minutes (8 intervals) per session that way I can get maximum intensity from them. If you start stacking 8 intervals and then another 8 you usually find that the intensity gets reduced.

    21. Gary Avatar
      Gary

      Hi Greg
      Will give some of these workouts a try
      I’ve done some of your challenge workouts so it’s clear you know your stuff
      I’m mainly into double k/bells at present done short and intense.
      What’s your view on doubles

      1. Greg Brookes Avatar

        Thanks Gary, I love doubles for strength based workouts and also for adding some bulk but most people really need to master 1 kettlebell before even attempting 2 🙂