I did tabata intervals religously for 2 months and the results have been great. I did my intervals on an elliptical machine for 4 times a week running for roughly 16minutes to 25minutes a day.

But it looks like ive hit my limit with this tabata exercise. My legs constantly feel tired and exhausted and i now cant continue my tabata exercises. I also feel hungry and tired everyday, constantly.

Another problem is my legs look fit and cut, while my upper body and abdomen is not. I am under the impression that i am on a upper body plateau or something.

Although ive been doing pushups, situps and weight training with my 8lb dumbbells together with my tabata. It doesnt quite show as much in my upperbody

I can feel my abs under the layer of fat but it isnt really coming out.

What upperbody and abdomen exercises can i do to make them show with only an elliptical machine, an exercise mat and two dumbbells weighing at 8lbs each?

And what weight lifting exercise or circuit exercise without weights can i replace my tabata with to even out y body while losing weight?

  • 2
    what is your goal? fat loss? note that you can't control where your body loses fat with certain exercises, it's mostly calories in vs calories out, which may be the reason for your abs "not coming out". Commented Jun 6, 2013 at 15:37
  • Fat loss is my goal as of now i dont want to look too muscly, just a flat tummy with a bit of abs showing im satisfied already. Anymore would be a plus though
    – reverb
    Commented Jun 6, 2013 at 15:57
  • Fat in the body pretty much works on a LIFO (Last In, First Out) concept. So, if you gained fat originally in your stomach area first, then hips, then rear, it will come off rear first, then hips then stomach. To see a "six pack" you need a combination of developed abdominals and lower body fat. Below 15% (For men) is generally where you can start seeing abdominal separations, below 8% or so is where the cut and defined looks start being apparent.
    – JohnP
    Commented Jun 6, 2013 at 17:39
  • Oh i see. So should i just continue with tabata intervals then?
    – reverb
    Commented Jun 6, 2013 at 17:41

1 Answer 1


Tabata, like sprinting, has significant anaerobic involvement (sprinters look muscly, runners look skinny). Your legs probably look fit and cut because your muscles have had to make significant gains (hypertrophy) over the last two months on the elliptical. If you were to total up calorie expenditure from each area of your body during a workout, I'm sure you'll find your legs are making up the brunt of the total exertion.

Furthermore, it sounds like you are undereating. Feeling hungry and tired all day, every day is a pretty obvious indicator of this. It's easy to be overzealous about how much of a caloric deficit you create for yourself when dieting. Unless you're patient about it, odds are you won't be happy about your results because, in my experience, you'll just look sickly/unhealthy. So, instead start making a serious effort at determining your total caloric needs, counting your calories exactly, and eating at a minor caloric deficit (maybe start at 100-200 calories per day). Not only will your weight loss be much healthier, this will also help prevent you from going catabolic (where your body uses your muscle for fuel rather than fat).

As for bodyweight exercises, there are many options. As you know, you can continue using the tabata method for any exercise. 8lb dumbbells don't offer a lot of resistance, but you could incorporate them into exercises like thrusters, pushup rows, weighted burpees, etc. If you can do pullups, that would add a lot to your "pull" muscle development (lats, biceps, etc), and help even-out your torso.

Generally speaking, losing fat while gaining muscle (also called recomposition) is a pretty difficult task, but -- anecdotally speaking -- it's possible. Personally, when I recomp, I eat at a caloric surplus.

Hope that helps.

  • Feeling hungry and tired can also be due to insufficient rest/sleep (not only undereating). Commented Jun 6, 2013 at 20:08
  • I usually get 5 or 6 hours of sleeping time in my 2 months workout routine, 7 if Im not busy. Thing is though, for the first month of working out i was actually feeling more energetic than my usual self then it suddenly declined when going into my 2nd month to the point I feel tired constantly. How do I compute my caloric needs? In my 2 month workout what I just did was eat more veggies, minimum to zero rice and less pork and beef. It worked but I think that's the reason of my declining energy levels. Also what is a caloric surplus?
    – reverb
    Commented Jun 7, 2013 at 8:10
  • @galley 5-6 hours of sleep is pretty poor. You should be getting a solid 7-8 hours of sleep every night for proper recovery (also recommend adding about 15-20 minutes a day of meditation to your routine to help with the neuromuscular stuff and overall relaxation). You may also want to take a few days in a row off, eat some cheat meals, drink some beers maybe and just relax and recover (this is called deloading). For caloric needs, try doing a search online for "caloric needs calculator" to give you a baseline, then tweak it as you see fit. It's not an exact science.
    – Daniel
    Commented Jun 7, 2013 at 12:46
  • @galley Also, a caloric surplus just means eating more than your daily needs of calories, rather than less. I find when recomposing I initially put on a lot of muscle. I also include a lot of intervals, sprints, and circuits in my routines, which, no matter how much I eat, always seem to keep my bodyfat down.
    – Daniel
    Commented Jun 7, 2013 at 12:50
  • I see. How long should deloading last in your opinion? Ive read it should last a week, but i think thats too long. Ive only tried up to 3 days but after that i feel sluggish again immediately. Im trying out deloading for a week now because i simply cant function. What i havent tried is caloric surplus, its a bit scary though since before my losing of weight i was such an over eater i dont want to go back to that lol
    – reverb
    Commented Jun 8, 2013 at 2:49

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