Becoming bored or complacent in your workout happens. We have all experienced it. The treadmill seems daunting, the weight rack is a pain and the yoga mat is mocking you from across the room. It’s times like these when getting to the gym or even finding motivation to workout becomes so much more difficult. We totally understand. It sucks. If you’re sick of this routine, you could benefit from the 7-Minute Workout.
Yep. You read that right. Seven minutes.
We know what you’re thinking. You can’t possibly get fit and see results from such a short workout. But you can! And science supports that fact.
WHAT IS THE 7-MINUTE WORKOUT?
While standard guidelines for aerobic training recommend 150 minutes/week of moderate-intensity exercises or 75 minutes per week of vigorous-intensity exercise, most of us just don’t have the time to go to the gym on a consistent basis for an hour at a time. But that doesn’t mean we’re doomed to a lifetime of inactivity and bad health.
Shorter, more intense workouts with limited rest between individual exercises could be the solution. These types of workouts, also known as high-intensity circuit training (HICT), certainly aren’t new but have grown in popularity in recent years.
The 7-Minute Workout hit the scene in May 2013 with an article by the American College of Sports Medicine’s Health and Fitness Journal which was picked up by The New York Times and subsequently went viral. The article took several studies that had determined HICT has similar benefits on health and weight loss as longer, lower-intensity workouts and created a sample 12-exercise workout.
This workout combines aerobic and resistance-training exercises into a single circuit lasting only seven minutes, and it requires no special equipment. Body weight provides all the resistance needed, which means you can do this workout anywhere. Exercises are performed for 30 seconds, with 10 seconds of transition time between each one. You do as many reps of an exercise as you can during that 30 seconds, but at the very minimum, you should aim to do 15 to 20 repetitions. It’s also important to complete each exercise with proper form and technique.
Furthermore, the order and types the exercises matter greatly; you can’t just throw together any old moves you know.
The exercises in an HICT circuit should be “placed in an order that allows for opposing muscle groups to alternate between resting and working.” In other words, after doing push-ups (upper body), you should do squats (lower body), before doing crunches (abs). This allows for the muscle groups you’re not working to recover while you’re simultaneously working a different group.
So what’s the catch? Well, this workout needs to be an uncomfortable seven minutes. As in, it should be really, really hard. You need to be working at your highest intensity – pretty much at 100 percent – for the entire time. For most people, that’s extremely challenging, and likely not possible, so the article recommends individuals repeat the seven-minute circuit two to three times. This turns a seven-minute workout into a 14 or 21-minute-long workout, which is still significantly shorter than most other types of exercises.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF THE 7-MINUTE WORKOUT?
The benefits of the 7-Minute Workout include:
Weight loss: The combination of resistance training and cardio with limited rest between sets significantly increases fat burn during a workout. On top of that, it also keeps your metabolism revved for up to 72 hours after a workout. That means you continue to burn more calories even after your workout is complete.
Time savings: Obviously a seven-minute workout is short. Even if you do the circuit two or three times, you’re still working out for a fraction of the time you would otherwise. If you’re struggling to find the time to exercise, this quick workout could be the answer. You’re working out smarter and harder, not longer.
Increase in VO2 max: VO2 max is the measure of the maximum amount of oxygen your body can use, and it’s one of the best indicators of endurance. It might seem counterintuitive that shorter workouts would increase endurance, but studies show that HICT has similar and sometimes greater gains on VO2 max as longer, steadier workouts.
Improved motivation: Think about it. Getting to the gym can be difficult for even the most avid gym junks. Life is busy, and it is easy to lose motivation. But since you can do the 7-Minute Workout at home, it’s totally doable for most people. You can do it right when you get home or while you’re waiting for dinner to cook. Or you could wake up 15-20 minutes earlier and get it done before breakfast. If it’s simple to squeeze in and not another tedious chore on your to-do list, you’re less likely to skip it.
While you can try and pull together your own circuit, our 7 Minute Workout app has done all the hard work for you – a 12-exercise workout that takes seven minutes. Plus, it syncs with heart rate monitors like TICKR X and even the Apple Watch and Apple TV. Since it counts your reps for you, you don’t have to concentrate on anything but giving the exercises your all, beating your personal records and finding something to do with all the spare time you now have.