I few days ago, I mentioned that one of my Fast and Furious students (that sounds funny, but I mean she comes to the class), brought me a clipping from the New York Times called The Scientific 7-Minute Workout. The sub-title is “12 exercises and you’re done.” In it, they cite an article in the May/June issue of the American College of Sports Medicine’s Health and Fitness Journal that states that 12 high intensity exercises, combined with very short breaks, using only your body weight and a chair fulfills the latest mandates for high intensity effort.
High Intensity Circuit Training
According to the ACSM, this type of training, which is called High Intensity Circuit Training or HICT, can be a fast and efficient way to lose excess body weight and body fat, can increase V02Max, an indicator of cardiovascular health, and can be an effective approach to decreasing insulin resistance.
There are some caveats and contraindications of course. HICT may not be appropriate for obese, undertrained, the elderly, or previously injured individuals. People with heart disease should avoid isometric exercise (planks, wall sits). They can be replaced with dynamic exercises. As with all exercise, medical clearance from a physician is recommended.
When choosing the exercises, select exercises that work all muscle groups or the body. Use large muscle groups to create the appropriate resistance and aerobic effort. Create a balance of exercises (avoid choosing all upper body or lower body exercises) that are safe and appropriate for the individual doing the workout. The exercises should also be adaptable to the environment (stairs, benches, chairs, walls, etc.) and be able to be modified to increase or decrease intensity.
This is the Seven Minute Workout as listed in the Times. I did change exercise #12 from a side plank to bicycle crunches only because we were doing this once through and a one-sided side plank felt unfinished. I think the slightly wild-eyed look on my face was caused by this workout.
After the workout, I looked up the study mainly because I wanted to make some changes to the exercises, but didn’t want to lose the effects of HICT. According to the report, exercise order is important. Because you will be doing this workout at a very high intensity, correct arrangement is crucial to give yourself a little extra rest time to allow you to continue at that high intensity. For that reason, a higher intensity exercise like jumping jacks or high knees running, may be followed with a plank or wall sit. Also, you will want to alternate muscle groups to allow recovery time between exercises. In the above example jumping jacks (total body) are followed by wall squats (lower body), which are followed by push ups (upper body), then crunches (core). This allows you to meet the objective of a series of exercises to be performed in quick succession-using proper form and technique-with a minimum of rest in between.
The Seven Minute Workout
For today’s workout I changed a few of the exercises. My knee will not hold up to step ups, and it doesn’t like jumping jacks very much either, so I added burpees (sorry, couldn’t help myself) and split squat jumps. I also kept the bicycle crunch as the final exercise. I believe it still keeps with the protocol of the HICT workout. I know it kicked my butt. The workout should be performed at high intensity, about 8-9 on a scale of 10. If you can’t keep up that high intensity, the ACSM recommends exercising for a slightly longer period of time, which means you could repeat the workout once or twice more. Don’t hate me.
Just so you know that I love and respect you, I did the whole workout in this video, no pauses or cut-aways, so you can tune in while you do the workout. Remember to be safe and do each exercise with proper form.
If you’d like to read more, here are the links to the New York Times article and the original ACSM report.
Edit: I was asked below about the app I’m using on my ipad to time my Seven Minute Workout. It’s called Seconds Pro. It costs $4.99, but there is a free version (I don’t believe you can save your timers on the free version). You can use any of the pre-made timers on the app or create your own. There are templates to follow depending on whether you are making a circuit, HIIT, Tabata, or other type of workout. You can program the music that you want to play, select the “warning tones” that you prefer, and I was happy that when I downloaded it onto my iphone it automatically synced with my ipad. Love the visual of that timer ticking down!
What is your favorite workout? Have you heard of HICT?
Disclaimer: Although I am a certified Coach and Personal Trainer, I am not YOUR Coach or Personal Trainer. Always adapt workouts to suit your body and fitness level. Always consult your doctor before beginning a new exercise program.