Having a healthy body and taking preventative health into your owns hands so that you can avoid costly medical bills requires exercise. A massive study of 400,000 participants in Taiwan found that just 15 minutes of exercise per day increases life expectancy by 3 years.
But lets face it, most workouts are notoriously boring. You can get stuck in a routine that may or may not be effective. It is easy to procrastinate in between reps and waste a lot of time.
To make matters worse, you struggle to get motivated to make it over to the gym. And then there’s the cost of the gym membership (ave. $58) or expensive home equipment (although you can build an affordable home gym too, with some effort).
If these are challenges you face, you should check out the 7-minute workout.
What is the 7-Minute Workout?
The 7-Minute workout is a scientifically engineered high intensity circuit training (HICT) workout designed to use your own body weight. The workout was developed by Brett Klika and Chris Jordan, of the Human Performance Institute. They originally published the 7-Minute Workout study in the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) Health and Fitness Journal. These guys live and breath this stuff and have many credentials to their name, so I will trust they know at least slightly more (more likely: massively more) about effective workouts than I do. And after doing it for the past month, I’m a believer.
The goal in mind when they designed the 7-Minute Workout was to give its participants a maximum full-body cardio and muscular workout in a minimum amount of time, at a minimal cost. Saving time, improving health, and saving money? That’s why I decided to try it out.
You cycle through 12 different exercises, with 10-second breaks in between, using your own body weight (no expensive equipment). Short, high intensity workouts have been proven to produce similar metabolic benefits as hours-long high endurance running and biking routines.
There is no time to delay and procrastinate. You’ve got to keep moving, with just enough amount of time to rest. And by the time you are done, you are exhausted.
Here’s what it looks like:
The 7-Minute Workout Routine with Instructional Videos:
Below is the recommended order of the workout, along with tutorial links on how to properly do each exercise (important to avoid injury and get the most out of each motion). You should continue doing each exercise, in full motion, for the full 30 seconds:
- Jumping Jacks: 30 seconds, followed by 10 second break
- Wall Sit: 30 seconds, followed by 10 second break
- Push-Ups: 30 seconds, followed by 10 second break
- Ab Crunches: 30 seconds, followed by 10 second break
- Chair Step: 30 seconds, followed by 10 second break
- Squats: 30 seconds, followed by 10 second break
- Tricep Dip: 30 seconds, followed by 10 second break
- Plank: 30 seconds, followed by 10 second break
- High Knees Running in Place: 30 seconds, followed by 10 second break
- Lunge: 30 seconds, followed by 10 second break
- Rotational Push-Up: 30 seconds, followed by 10 second break
- Side Plank: 30 seconds (15 on each side)
Take 30-second (or less) break, repeat 1 to 2 more times.
7-Minute Workout Apps
The workout is not easy to do if all you have is a digital watch/clock to time it. As you can imagine, if you’re focused on the exercise at hand, it’s tough to watch the clock, and it will diminish the effectiveness of a workout.
What to do?
You could go out an buy an interval timer, but that’s an unnecessary expense, and it won’t help too much if you haven’t already memorized the routine. Instead, there is a free 7-Minute Workout app that have already been developed that will keep you on task. You could use these on a web browser, Android, and iPhone.
Is it Really Only 7 Minutes?
There have been some critics of the 7-Minute workout that say the name of the workout is slightly misleading.
It’s not actually a 7 minute workout. With the 10 second breaks, it works out to 7 minutes, 50 seconds. And you’re doing yourself a dis-service if you stop after one circuit. The authors state that participants should do the circuit 2-3 times within their article, so you can’t fault them there.
Can Anyone Do this Workout?
No. It’s suppose to be difficult. You should definitely consult with your doctor before you try any high intensity workout like this, particularly if you are on medication or have hypertension or heart disease, as the author’s state.
If you are in decent shape, without any health concerns, you should be able to do it, even if it takes you a bit of time to go the full 30 seconds with each motion.
Most people will sweat a little and get their breathing and heart rate up in that first seven minutes. But it’s very doable by those who are in modest physical condition.
From there, it’s up to you.
You can (and should) stop, if you are completely exhausted. Or you can keep going through the cycle a second or even third time.
By the end of the second cycle, I am sweating profusely sweating and gasping for air. Each subsequent circuit becomes more challenging than the previous.
If you can fully complete three circuits consecutively without more than 30 seconds break in between? You’re pretty badass.
If you aren’t finding it challenging enough (doubtful) – then add a weight vest to really challenge yourself.
The best part, for all the frugal folks out there, is you don’t need to buy anything to do this workout. You can do it in a small room, and the only equipment you need is a chair or stairs.
In the amount of time it would have taken you to drive down to the gym, find a parking space, and a locker, you will have completed your entire workout and felt like you didn’t miss a thing at the overpriced gym.
It’s completely changed my perception of what a workout should be: fun, challenging, effective, quick, and free.
My wife and I love our gym membership, but this seems like a decent alternative. Although, I do think the title is pretty misleading being that you’d need to do it 2 or 3 times which results in 15 to 25 minutes. There are plenty of routines out there that take up that much time.
Just did this 2 times. This is a very decent workout, and seems to be fairly inclusive! I like it. I also dig the web app. =)
I’ve been doing P90X Lean(part of the P90x workout plan). The workouts are usually around an hour long(including warm-up and cool down). All I gotta say is, it’s a really great program and I love it because I do it at home. Also, when I’m regularly exercising, I have a LOT more energy which allows me to skip the coffee/energy drink, etc, for work/daily tasks/etc.
Skip coffee??! Heresy… lol
My friends have done P90X; and I did Insanity. I liked it, but it was just too much on my knees (and I’m a long-time martial artist!). These days, I enjoy a quicker workout just to get my heart rate up, then it’s into the daily grind… When did our lives become so busy?
I love this idea very much, however I do not believe I would be able to accurately do 5 of the exercises because I lack upper body strength. Do I try to do it anyway and hope one day I can do an actual push up?
Hi Mary –
My wife is in the same boat, and I expect many females would be, as upper body can be difficult. She tries to do modified reps or properly (much fewer reps) until she cannot do anymore. It’s definitely a progression. Stick with it and do your best and your upper body strength will grow!
For pushups, try putting your knees on the ground and keeping your body in a straight line from knee to head. Don’t go down all the way to the ground, just part-way until you build up more comfortability / strength in that position.
For the dips with a chair, you could just hold yourself in the top position as long as possible. Once you get the hang of that, practice slowly lowering yourself onto another (smaller) bench or stool, without lifting back up. This will strengthen the same muscle group, and eventually you could be able to complete the normal exercise. Hope that helps.
I’m on the road often and sometimes it’s difficult to find a gym or time to workout. I started doing this same 7 min exercise after reading about it in the NY Times a few weeks ago. It’s the first thing I do when I get to my hotel room after a long flight and the first thing I do every morning in my hotel room. You’re definitely not going to get ripped doing it, but it keeps the blood flowing and helps to fight off all those french fries I eat while travelling!
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