Tabata-Toned Abs and Upper Body

Hey Rockstar! We’re getting into some Tabatas today – an incredibly effective and efficient workout style that offers us maximum benefits in a short amount of time.

You’ll be working out with Coach Nikki, one of the amazing Team Betty Rocker coaches from Rock Your Life.  She’ll have you targeting your upper body and core to get an awesome fat-burning, strength building workout in less than 20 minutes.

Coach Nikki is a yoga instructor ERYT200, an AFAA Certified Personal Trainer, a Mat Pilates Instructor and a Team Betty Rocker Coach!

Keep reading to find out more about the workout she has in store for you and why she loves it!


Coach Nikki here!  There are two things I really love and that’s strength training and working out using a stability ball. The stability ball adds a whole new level of challenge to any workout by causing the muscles to fire in a new way in order to maintain your balance!

While using short intervals in a Tabata style of 0:20 seconds maximum effort with 0:10 rest periods, I designed this workout to give you an opportunity to focus on your upper body strength, to challenge your core, and have FUN!

For today’s workout you will need a set of weighted objects – dumbbells or water bottles- and a stability ball (if you have one). If you don’t, no worries – you can do these moves without one – I’ll show you how. I hope you enjoy it! 


Tabata Toned Abs and Upper Body

Format: Perform each move 0:20 seconds of maximum effort with 0:10 rest periods, alternating move 1 and move 2.

Tabata One

Move 1: Chest Press

  • Start lying with your upper back on the ball, legs bent and heels planted firmly. 
  • Hold your weights straight over your chest with your arms extended while bracing your core, and engaging your glutes.
  • Bend your elbows and lower the weights until they are just above your chest and your elbows out wide. 
  • Pause, and then press the weights back to the starting position and repeat. 
  • MOD: Lie on the floor instead of the Swiss Ball

Move 2: Chest Fly

  • Start lying with your upper back on the ball, legs bent and heels planted firmly. 
  • Hold your weights straight over your chest with your arms extended and palms facing each other while bracing your core, and engaging your glutes.
  • With a slight bend in your elbows, open your arms out wide, stopping when your elbows are in line with your chest. 
  • Brace your core and bring your arms back together over your chest and repeat. 
  • MOD: Lie on the floor instead of the Swiss Ball

Optional Rest Move: Hip Thruster 

  • Begin with your back positioned on your ball with legs bent and heels planted firmly. 
  • Slowly bring your booty down gently toward the floor for a quick touch and the bridge yourself back up by pressing your heels into the floor, squeezing your glutes and keeping a tight core.
  • Drop your booty back down and repeat.
  • MOD: Lie on the floor instead of the Swiss Ball
  • Pro Tip: Add weight to your hip crease to add resistance

Tabata Two

Move 1: Skull Crusher

  • Start lying with your upper back on the ball, legs bent and heels planted firmly. 
  • Hold your weight straight over your chest with your arms extended while bracing your core, and engaging your glutes.
  • Bend your elbows, lowering the weight toward the top of your head while the upper arm remains perpendicular to the body.
  • Reverse the movement until the weight is held above the chest in the starting position again and repeat. (Try not to lock out your elbows at the starting position; instead, stop just shy of locked position to maintain tension in your muscle.)
  • MOD: Lie on the floor instead of the Swiss Ball

Move 2: Lat Pullover 

  • Start lying with your upper back on the ball, legs bent and heels planted firmly. 
  • Hold your weight straight over your chest with your arms extended while bracing your core, and engaging your glutes.
  • With a slight bend in your elbows, slowly extend your arms and the weight behind your head until your arms are by your ears.
  • Pause and return to the starting position and repeat. 
  • MOD: Lie on the floor instead of the Swiss Ball

Optional Rest Move: Core Crunch

  • Lie on a Swiss Ball with your lower back curvature pressed against the spherical surface of the ball in full extension. Your legs should be bent at the knee with your feet pressed firmly against the floor. Arm resting on the back of your head
  • Flex the waist by contracting the abdominals bringing your chest forward into a crunch to feel the contraction on your abdominals.
  • Let your body roll back out into full extension to be back into the starting position.
  • MOD: Lie on the floor instead of the Swiss Ball

Tabata Three

Move 1: Single Arm Biceps Curl to Overhead Press

  • Seated on your ball, begin holding your weighted objects at your sides. Engage between the shoulders slightly to hold the shoulders in the correct neutral position (so they’re not rounded forward).
  • Perform a bicep curl by curling your weight up toward your shoulder, palms facing up. 
  • Perform an overhead press by pressing the weight up and over head with your palm facing out.
  • Bring the weight back down and repeat. 
  • MOD: Perform this move standing instead of the Swiss Ball
  • Pro Tip: Lift the opposite leg slightly off the ground to challenge your balance and core strength.

Move 2: Seated Hinged Wide Row

  • Seated on your ball or a chair, hinge forward at the waist to be at a 45 degree angle. Engage your core, roll your shoulders back and chest up, with weights in each hand allowing them to hang and keeping your gaze neutral.
  • Row the weight back by pulling your elbows out wide and squeezing your back muscles like you’re pinching your shoulder blades together. 
  • Slowly lower the weight down again to the starting position and repeat.
  • MOD: Perform this move standing instead of the Swiss Ball

Optional Rest Move: Squat Pulse

  • In a seated position on the ball, power through your heels to lift yourself slightly off the ball but not so much that you are standing, and sit back down gently. 
  • This should be more of a squat pulse than a full squat.
  • MOD: Perform this move standing instead of the Swiss Ball


Tabata Four

Move 1: Lat Pull-ins

  • Position yourself in a kneeling position with your arms extended and forearms on the Swiss Ball.
  • With your core engaged, press your forearms into the ball firmly and pull your elbows in close to your sides while squeezing through the base of your shoulder blades. 
  • Keeping an engaged back the whole time, pull the ball all the way into your body, pause and press the ball back out and repeat. 
  • MOD: Lie on your stomach on the floor and do the same movement but without the ball. 

Move 2: Push Up to Jackknife

  • Place your hands flat against the ground directly under your shoulders and extend your legs out behind you so you’re on your toes (or knees for modification) – see my push up progression tutorial here.
  • Perform a push-up by lowering yourself to meet the ground, back flat, core engaged, and spine neutral.
  • Push back up to your tall plank position and then perform a knee tuck by jumping your knees into your chest and then back out. Perform a push up and repeat.
  • MOD: Place hands on an elevated surface (chair, couch) and perform an incline pushup and then add in a mountain climber. Keeping your hips down, run your knees into your chest and back out by pulling each knee in as far as you can and then back out, one at a time.
  • Pro Tip: Position yourself in a push up position with your legs elevated on a Swiss Ball for the push up and knee tuck.

Optional Rest Move: Sumo Jack 

  • Perform a jumping jack while holding a Swiss Ball in your hands and squatting down slightly when bringing the ball down. (Legs should be in sumo stance when you are touching the ball to the ground.)

Great job Rockstar! I’m so proud of you for showing up for yourself today.

Be sure to check in below with me and Coach Nikki and let us know how you liked the workout and what move was your favorite!


How about new workouts to do daily, from anywhere?

You’re invited to Rock Your Body AND Your Life…

…in my epic home gym that has new classes every week, 30-day Challenges to keep you on track with a program, your own personal workout library, over 300 healthy recipes, an exclusive support group, access to the Team Betty Rocker coaches, and so much more!