Of course, you have time for The Seven-Minute Workout. But is this short fitness program worth the time? Find out what science has to say about this super-quick workout.
Are seven minutes really heaven? If you push yourself hard enough, The Seven-Minute Workout is the opposite of heaven–but in a very good way, according to research.
The Seven-Minute Workout does seem to be too good to be true. Especially if you're at a beginner level for fitness. It can also seem too good to be true if you're athlete-level and super fit. And if you are active, working out about three days a week, you'd need more than a bit of convincing to swap out your 55-minute spin or barre class for a workout that's not even 10 minutes.
But short-burst workout is good for pretty much any level, according to Under Armour ambassador Jennifer Rochon, who also trains at the HIIT gym Report Fitness in Montreal. And there's some good research behind The Seven-Minute Workout. In fact, the science behind this workout is what started the high-intensity interval training trend–also known as HIIT.
What is The Seven-Minute Workout?
It is likely the most straightforward workout you'll try. It's not fancy. And there's no cute fitfluencer leading you through the moves either. You need only enough room on the floor for pushups and planks. You do 12 bodyweight exercises for 30 seconds each, with 10 seconds of rest between each.
- Jumping jacks
- Wall sits
- Triceps dips
- High knees
- Push-ups with rotations
- Side planks
Seven minutes isn't very long, so you'll have to work at a high intensity–it is a HIIT workout, after all! You should feel about an eight, on a discomfort scale between one and 10. Form is key, and keeping your intensity throughout the workout is important—don't go hard and then give up half way through.
“These are compound movements," says Rochon, meaning that they target more than one muscle group and joints, which requires more exertion."It's amazing for burning calories," she says."I love compound exercises."
The science behind The Seven-Minute Workout
The workout was created by two researchers from the Human Performance Institute in Orlando, Florida, and was published in a The American College of Sports Medicine's Health & Fitness Journal report in 2013. And it was based on science; the research points to HIIT for boosting weight loss and improving health, including heart health and decreasing insulin resistance. The above group of exercises were chosen for a number of reasons, including how they challenge the large muscle groups, work the entire body, include both strength and aerobic fitness, can be modified to lower the intensity or advance the workout, improve balance, don't require complicated equipment, and feature moves that can easily go from one to the next within 10 seconds. You'll also have to do the list of exercises in the order provided, to make the workout effective.
And the science doesn't end there. Recently, researchers followed otherwise inactive participants as they did the workout every day for six weeks. Despite not changing eating habits, they lost body fat and about four centimetres on average on the waist. Another study put the exercise bouts up against quick bouts on an exercise bike. The results suggested that the workout can be modified with more intense cardio, requiring a higher heart rate and more exertion. It also found that lower-body movements proved to be the most challenging part of the workout. Also, the New York Times worked with a trainer to create an advanced version of The Seven-Minute Workout that involves weights (and, yes, you guessed it: burpees!).
What's the best HIIT workout for you?
You've likely heard this before: The best workout for you is the one that you will actually do. So, if time is an obstacle and a short workout that requires little to no equipment and not going to the gym fits your schedule, then it's good for you. They're only seven minutes (and most are on free apps or YouTube videos), so you can try any or all of them.
- Beginner: A short workout is a great entry point into fitness. "Focus more on form than speed," says Rochon.
- Active: Use a short workout to keep you on schedule."Active people tend to be busy," says Rochon, adding that these quickie programs are great to squeeze in on days when you might miss a workout. "You don't need much space, and you can do it anywhere."
- In great shape: These workouts can be used as an extra challenge, like a workout finisher. And Rochon also uses HIIT training while she's on vacation or work trips to avoid missing a workout.
What else do you need to know?
Rochon shares tips for getting started with short, intense workouts:
- Do a warmup & cooldown: Do a couple low-intensity repetitions of each movement to get the body warmed up. For The Seven-Minute Workout, Rochon recommends doing a four-minute warmup. For a cooldown, do active recovery, like a light jog or walk.
- Be smart with weights: Despite being a quick workout, go for lighter weights or just use your body weight to keep intensity high and get the heart rate going, says Rochon."Go for speed and endurance."
- Give yourself time between workouts, even short ones. "Let your body rest 12 to 24 hours in between workouts," she says."You'll overwork the body." Start off with three times a week, and add in workouts when you see your body ready for more of a challenge. But do take active recovery days. Go for a walk to loosen up tight sore muscles.
- Not feeling sore means you might need to change things up. Maybe the workout isn't challenging enough or your body is used to those movements.
Will you see results from The Seven-Minute Workout?
As much as science shows that this workout is effective, Rochon says that it's more about a lifestyle than it is about minutes."If you don't eat well and don't sleep well, you won't get the full benefits of [any] exercise."
What are the best ones to follow?
To make it easier, here's a roundup of some of the best (free!) Seven--Minute Workouts out there.