No matter how busy your days are, you can probably spare 7 minutes for a workout. Coincidentally, there’s a workout that’s exactly 7 minutes long, science-based, and, apparently, good enough to count as a full-day workout. Initially popularized by the New York Times, this workout is about doing 12 exercises in quick succession whenever you can spare time each day. On the surface, it seems like a great idea and potentially effective workout for beginners and busy people. Let’s take a closer look at the 7-minute workout, how it works, how many calories it burns, and everything else you need to know.
What Is The 7-Minute Workout?
The 7-Minute Workout is an exercise that was published in ACM’S Health and Fitness Journal by experts at the Human Performance Institute in Orlando. It was created in 2013, comprises 12 bodyweight exercises, and constitutes a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) circuit (2).
Here is how it works:
Perform the exercises one right after another for 30 seconds each. Usually, this is long enough to get 15-20 repetitions of each exercise done. You get 10 seconds of rest between sets. You’re not limited to one circuit of the workout, and you can do 2-3 rounds depending on how much time you have available.
Exercises included in the 7-minute workout are:
- Full body – jumping jacks, step-up onto a chair, high knees/running in place
- Upper body – push-up, tricep dips on chair, push-up, rotation
- Core – abdominal crunch, plank, side plank
- Lower body – waist sit, lunge
Because this workout condenses an entire exercise program into 7 minutes, it is quite intense. The exercises are challenging, and you do them one after the other with only very short breaks in between. It also works several muscle groups, including your core, arms, legs, glutes, and back.
How Many Calories Do You Burn With The 7-Minute Workout?
According to the findings of a study by researchers at the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse, you’ll burn about 105 calories during the 7-minute workout. The study involved exercisers completing a 20-minute bodyweight circuit workout using the same 20-seconds-on, 10-seconds-off setup used in the 7-Minute Workout. The participants burned an average of 15 calories per minute, this translates to 105 calories for 7 minutes (3).
However, this is a general figure that may not apply equally across the board. How many calories you can burn depends on a few factors, including (5):
- Weight – the more you weigh, the more calories you burn
- Intensity – harder exercises like high knees and jumping jacks burn more than easy ones like standing planks.
- Age – your calorie expenditure reduces as you age because of a reduced level of physical activity.
- Gender – men tend to have higher basal metabolic rates than women and can generally burn more calories.
What Are The Pros And Cons Of Doing 7 Minute Workouts?
- It’s time-efficient. You can squeeze in this workout during your lunch break or before you go to work.
- You don’t need any equipment except a chair and enough space for exercises like high knees, jumping jacks, and step-ups.
- It doesn’t require any change in your current workout routine. You can do it with your regular strength training or cardio workouts.
- It’s challenging enough to get you results but safe even for beginners.
- It can help you lose body weight and body fat, particularly subcutaneous fat (just beneath the skin).
- The exercises included may not be suitable for everyone (e.g., people with joint problems should avoid step-ups, lunges, and high knees).
- It may be too intense for some beginners or people recovering from injury.
- You can’t build muscle strength and tone in the seven minutes that you’re doing this workout. It takes several weeks to do so (4).
- It may not be as good as other workouts (longer workouts, more resistance exercises) at helping develop strength and power, sport-specific endurance, and sport-specific performance.
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Fitness Tips For Busy People
Many of us have little or no time for a traditional workout. Given the demands of family, work, and school, the thought of spending time at the gym or outside jogging can seem like a fantasy. But even the busiest people can find ways to stay fit by changing their daily routine. Here are some helpful tips:
Get Your Workout Out Of The Way In The Morning Before Starting Your Day
By the time you get home from a long day of work or school, it can be challenging to motivate yourself to hit the gym or go for a run. However, if you could find at least 30 minutes in your morning before you have even started your day, that time would belong to you and only you. You wouldn’t need to worry about finding childcare for your kids because they’re still sleeping, and no one else is up yet. Once everyone else starts their day, your workout will already be done.
Track Your Training And Diet
It’s easy to fall away from a workout plan if you don’t record your progress. Tracking can help with your weight loss journey (7). Consider tracking your daily activity using an app that counts steps taken, calories burned, etc. Not only will this help you know exactly how much work you’ve done and what still needs to be done, but it also keeps the momentum going and helps motivate you in the future.
Incorporate Physical Activity Into Your Day
Instead of taking the elevator, try using the stairs instead. Not only will this save some time, but it will also help get your heart pumping and burn some calories at the same time, which is great for busy people who work long hours since they’re not likely to find much time for a workout (6). There are many more ways to incorporate short bursts of activity into your day, including doing a 7-minute workout whenever you get the chance.
Choose Workouts That You Enjoy
It may feel like every time you find free time, you only want to do one thing – sleep. This is a normal reaction for many of us, but taking the time to exercise can help you feel better and get rid of any cortisol accumulation from stress at work or school. The key is to choose workouts that allow you to have some fun, whether it means dancing with your kids in the living room, going on a hike with friends, doing a workout video in your bedroom, or finding an awesome fitness class in your area. If you enjoy the workout and look forward to it when you schedule it into your day, then there’s no reason not to do it!
Get Fitness Buddies To Keep You Accountable
Another great way to stay motivated is by getting yourself some support, whether that means working with a personal trainer or finding friends who want to lose weight as well through a fitness club or online community (such as Fitocracy). Sometimes we’re our own worst enemy when it comes to staying fit, but there’s nothing like some friendly competition to keep you on track (1).
The Bottom Line
The 7-minute workout may be a good choice for people who are looking for a non-traditional workout program to follow. It’s very time efficient (you can do it during your lunch break), and you don’t need any equipment except your own body weight. However, it doesn’t allow for building strength or muscle tone, so you need to pair it up with your regular, more intense exercise routine for the best results.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- 3 Reasons to Work Out With a Friend (2021, cdc.gov)
- 7 Minute Workout | Download (2019, acsm.org)
- Is Tabata All It’s Cracked Up To Be? (2013, acewebcontent.azureedge.net)
- Maximizing Muscle Hypertrophy: A Systematic Review of Advanced Resistance Training Techniques and Methods (2019, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Metabolism and weight loss: How you burn calories (2020, mayoclinic.org)
- Strategies to Increase Physical Activity (2015, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- The Effect of Adherence to Dietary Tracking on Weight Loss: Using HLM to Model Weight Loss over Time (2017, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)