Kicking Your Way to a Fun Cardio Workout

By Whitney Otstott – April 15, 2022

If you’re looking for a fun and effective cardio workout that’s great for any fitness level, doesn’t require special skills or equipment, gets the heart pumping and torches calories, kickboxing is a great option! Besides the benefits just mentioned, it’s also a perfect activity for releasing stress.

When it comes to cardiovascular exercise, the American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week or 30 minutes per day, five days a week. At GirlPower Fitness, I teach a class called Kick & HIIT, with HIIT standing for high-intensity interval training. HIIT has gained quite a bit of popularity in the past few years as people understand the benefits of this training mode, particularly that you can burn more calories in a shorter period of time. A HIIT workout involves quick bursts of intense exercise alternating with recovery periods. 

There are several ways to format a HIIT workout but the one I’m sharing today is a Tabata workout. A Tabata round is only four minutes and is comprised of working out hard for 20 seconds, resting for 10 seconds and repeating that eight times. Each round described below is a four-minute round with eight rounds total. Let’s go!

Warm up for five minutes by cycling through the following movements:

  • Step touch 10 times
  • Hamstring curls 10 times
  • 10 alternating jabs (straight punch forward)
  • 10 alternating hooks (swing fist around, elbow lifted, arms parallel to the ground)
  • 10 alternating uppercuts (fist punches in front aiming for opponent’s chin) 
  • 10 shallow squats (standing hip-width apart, toes forward)

Music recommendation: Tabata Music 2022, free playlist on Spotify

Two people kickboxing.

Tabata Round One: Shuffle, Cross Jabs

For the first round, you’re going to shuffle to the side four times and then jab across your body three times with your front arm. In your shuffle, you’re in a slight squat and staying low. Arms are up in front to protect your face. For your cross jabs, pack as much power in your fist as possible. Snap the fist out and back in. Move quickly! Keep your feet moving in a march during the 10-second rest periods.

Tabata Round Two: Squats, Front Kicks

In your squat, feet are shoulder-width apart and toes are pointing forward. As you squat, sit back in your hips, transferring your weight primarily into your heels. Keep your chest and chin lifted, and keep your knees lined up over your shoelaces. Squat twice and then kick right, kick left. Your kicks are no higher than waist level, flexed foot, with power pushing through your heel. March during the rest periods.

Tabata Round Three: Quick Feet, Hooks

For the quick feet, your feet are just wider than hip distance apart, moving at a rapid pace. After about four counts, plant your feet and do four alternating hooks. Swing your fist around, with your elbow lifted and arms parallel to the ground. It’s like you’re aiming for the side of someone’s face. With each hook, your body will twist slightly side to side.

Tabata Round Four: Jump Rope and Jacks

As you jump rope, don’t forget to circle the arms. After jump roping four times, do two jumping jacks, bringing the arms out wide. Remember, you’re only working 20 seconds at a time! March during the rest periods.

Man kickboxing.

Tabata Round Five: All the Punches

Plant your feet for this round and get ready to pummel your opponent! As quickly as you can, do eight alternating jabs, eight alternating hooks and eight alternating uppercuts. Remember, jabs are straight punches forward. Hooks are punches that swing around with your elbow lifted. Uppercuts aim for the chin.

Tabata Round Six: Lunge Kick

We’ll burn out the legs in this round. Start in a lunge stance with both toes pointed forward. Your back heel is lifted off the ground. Drop your back knee toward the floor, keeping your chest lifted and weight centered over your hips. After you lunge, kick the back leg forward into a front kick. Bring it back into the lunge, then kick again. For each 20-second round, you will switch the leg that’s in front.

Tabata Round Seven: Bob and Weave to Cross Jab

For your bob and weave, you’re in a shallow squat and ducking side to side. As you duck to the left, jab your right arm twice to the side. Duck to the right, jab your left arm twice to the side. Keep the hips low in your bob and weave.

Tabata Round Eight: Speed Bag to Zigzag

Final round! For your speed bag, you’re quickly circling your hands with arms lifted at forehead level or just higher. After about four counts, plant your feet, bring your elbows and hands in close, and zigzag your upper body to the side four times. 

Congratulations! You’ve just completed a Kick & HIIT workout that worked your entire body. Don’t skip a cooldown. March it out to bring your heart rate down and stretch out your arms and legs. Cue the Rocky theme music, you’re done!


About the Author

Whitney smiling.

Whitney Otstott is the owner of GirlPower Fitness, a private fitness studio in southwest Austin that’s just for women. Whitney has been in the fitness industry for more than 25 years, teaching numerous group fitness formats and offering personal training in a way that helps women get stronger and healthier in a nurturing and empowering environment. Learn more at


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