The 7-minute Workout

The 7-minute Workout is a popular high-intensity circuit training workout. This workout is designed for those with limited time and budget. It encourages participants to start with minimal time investment, which is important as a lack of time is a major barrier to exercise for many people. All exercises can be done with just body weight or with implements easily acquired from around the house.

The workout is backed by science - the original 7-Minute Workout was described in the American College of Sports Medicine Health and Fitness Journal (Klika & Jordan, 2013). The workout consists of twelve exercises. The exercise order allows for opposing muscle groups to alternate between resting and working, with the exercises following this order: total body, lower body, upper body, core.

The 12 suggested exercises are performed in order, for an intense 30 second period with 10 second rest periods between exercises. It is suggested you work out at about 80% intensity, though you might want to start off easier, and even push it harder once you start to improve your fitness. You can also modify the intensity of each exercise, for example by doing the push-ups from the knees, and not lowering the body as much in the squats.

If you do the maths, it takes nearly 8 minutes to complete the circuit. Not only that, the authors of the original paper suggest repeating the routine two or three times in a row, to achieve at least 20 minutes of high-intensity exercise, as recommended by the American College of Sports Medicine's guidelines.

If you follow this program, exercising every other day, do expect a miracle fitness transformation, but it will improve your fitness, you'll feel better and have significant health benefits in the long term.

The Workout

  1. Jumping Jacks - start with your legs apart and arms straight above the head and hands together. Then as you jump, bring your legs together and bring your arms to your sides. Jump again and return to the starting position. repeat for 30 seconds.
  2. Wall Sit - Stand with your back to a wall, feet hip-width apart and slightly in front of you. Lean back into the wall, and slide down like you're sitting down into a chair. Your knees should finish above your ankles, bent at 90 degrees. Hold this position for 30 seconds.
  3. Pushups - Start in a "plank" position on the floor or mat, weight on the hands and toes, with the hands below your shoulders. Bend your elbows and lower your chest toward the floor, keeping back and hips level. Then press back up to the starting position. Repeat for 30 seconds.
  4. Crunches - Lie flat on your back, with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Tighten your core and press your lower back into the mat, while reaching forward towards the top of knees. Return to starting position while keeping the core tight. Repeat for 30 seconds.
  5. Step-ups onto a chair - Stand facing a sturdy chair or bench. Step up onto the chair with your left leg, following with the right foot as well. Then step back down with the left leg first. Repeat starting with your right leg this time. Do as many as you can in 30 seconds. 
  6. Squats - Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and toes facing forward. Bend your knees and hips, shifting your hips back and arms out in front. Lower yourself until the knees are about 90 degrees, then back to the starting position. Repeat for 30m seconds.
  7. Triceps Dips with a Chair - With your arms resting on the edge of a chair, with your legs out in front, slowly bend your elbows and lower yourself toward the floor, then push back up. Repeat for 30 seconds.
  8. Plank - Lie face down with your weight on your elbows and your feet.
  9. Running in place - Run in place for 30 seconds, bringing your knees up as high as you can with each step. Focus on lifting your knees up and down rapidly.
  10. Lunges - Start with your feet together, then step forward on your right foot, dropping your pelvis down toward the floor (not forward), lowering yourself until both front and back knees are bent as close to a 90-degree angle as possible. Then push back with the front leg and return to your starting position. Switch legs. Repeat for 30 seconds. 
  11. Pushups with rotation - Begin as per the standard push-up, but as you come back up you shift your weight to one side, rotate your upper body and extend your arm straight up toward the ceiling. Return to your starting position, then repeat with the other side. Continue for 30 seconds.
  12. Side Plank - Lie on your right side on a mat, with your legs straight and your left leg stacked directly on top of the right. Push your weight up on your bent right elbow, which should be directly under your shoulder, keeping the body straight. Hold the position for 15 seconds then switch sides. 

These are the recommended exercises, but there is nothing stopping you switching out some of these if you cannot do them for any reason, though you should keep them in the order of exercises which rest a body region while another is getting a workout. See our list of other Bodyweight Exercises.

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