The exercises that “work” for me on Tabatas are:
Military Press: but you will do 11 reps in the first 20 seconds and be praying for 3 in the 8th. Maybe the muscle groups are too small. You could add more legs as you go through, but I found that then the weights are too light. It is a tough one on the lungs as you just can’t seem to hold your chest in one place, breath that heavy, and push through your chin.
Clean Grip Snatch: good idea on paper, bad in practice.
I tried Clean and Press and just thought I would try these. Your traps just roast! It would be great for a wrestler type though. The first two minutes are too light, the last two are very hard.
Clean and Press: The problem is getting a handle on reps.
It might be an idea to do this:
First 20: Clean
Second 20: Press
Third 20: Clean
Fourth 20: Press…repeat for all four minutes.
Doing clean and press is hard as you take up a lot of seconds with each attempt and you don’t seem to “get going.’ Try it and you will see what I mean.
Full Olympic Lifts: Good idea, but you only get about two attempts in…too much bar movement, physical adjustments. If you choose this, try “Clusters” instead. Do 8 perfect reps with a 10 second rest in between each…rest for two to three minutes…repeat for three cycles total.
The problem with Tabatas is that you have to work a bunch of muscle groups…but not too many. The lift has to have a long stroke, but not too long. If you go from the floor to overhead, like a power snatch, you won’t get many reps in. If you do wrist curls (if you are just a nerd) you could get 40 in the first 20 seconds.
That is the process that I went through to settle on the Front Squats. Oh, you also have to use a bar, not bodyweight. You really need to have weight selection to adjust from workout to workout.
If you do Tabata Front Squats with Chains, you will still struggle to sit down two days later.
I think it helps the nervous system, but there is no question your heart and lungs are working. It also speeds up the metabolism, if such a thing happens.