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“Maximum Results With Minimal Time Investment”
I’m all for becoming more efficient with my training, and when it comes to working out I like to keep my sessions short, and to use my time as effectively as possible – hence my love for compound exercises.
By now you must have heard about the scientific research, from the McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario which has devised a High Intensity Circuit Training (HICT) workout, that can be performed in – that’s right, 7 minutes!
According to their science boffins, the workout requires no specialist equipment other than just your own body-weight, a wall, and a chair.
It can be done at home, in the office, or whilst travelling, and is designed to work the entire body.
Not only that, they say it can have the same aerobic and strength training effect as a long run and a resistance workout!
If you just want to see the 7 Minute Workout video before reading my views, here it is..
Some of the exercises are not performed with 100% correct technique, but it gives you an idea of the timings involved and how easy it is to do it at home:
If you want the timings for this workout, checkout this video:
According to the article which was published by the American College of Sports Medicine’s Health & Fitness Journal May/June 2013 issue, the 7 Minute Workout has been designed to produce: “maximum results with minimal investment”.
Now that’s my type of workout right there!
But with anything that sounds too good to be true.. this really does sound too good to be true!
What Is A HICT Workout?
The HICT workout as revealed here, is pretty much the same as a regular circuit workout, except you perform each exercise for 30 seconds with a 10 second break between each exercise.
The idea is to keep the intensity high throughout the 7 minutes with just enough time to get yourself in position for the next exercise.
The exercises are performed in a particular order to enable opposite muscle groups to alternate between working and resting.
For example, the wall-sit (lower body) is followed by push-ups (upper body).
There are also core and total body exercises that are performed after an upper and lower body exercise.
The whole circuit has 12 different exercises that are designed to work the entire body to produce maximum cardiovascular and strength training benefits.
The discomfort, intensity, pain – call it what you like, (some people even enjoy it!?) will be in the region of 8 out of 10.
The good news is it only lasts for 7-8 minutes!
The HICT Workout
Below is the 12 station workout as suggested by the McMaster University.
You should perform as many repetitions of each exercise as you can for 30 seconds, with 10 seconds transition between exercises.
The total time to complete the circuit should be around 7 to 8 minutes.
1. Jumping jacks Total body
2. Wall sit Lower body
3. Push-up Upper body
4. Abdominal crunch Core
5. Step-up onto chair Total body
6. Squat Lower body
7. Triceps dip on chair Upper body
8. Plank Core
9. High knees/running in place Total body
10. Lunge Lower body
11. Push-up and rotation Upper body
12. Side plank Core
Performing the exercises in this order allows the lower or upper body to recover sufficiently whilst you perform an upper or lower body exercise with correct form and technique, and high intensity.
There are certainly pros and cons to the 7 Minute Workout and not everyone will agree as to its effectiveness.
As I’ve always spouted maintained – short, intense workouts have considerable advantages over long, often boring sessions that are hard to stick to.
Finding the time during the day to exercise is often a difficult affair. The 7 Minute Workout is perfect for time sensitive individuals.
No Gym Required
You can perform this workout almost anywhere – home, office or whilst traveling. No need for expensive gym memberships.
No Equipment Needed
Bodyweight exercises are generally easy to understand and don’t require any specialist equipment. Just a mat (or towel), a wall and a chair is all you need.
Full Body Workout
The exercises ensure you target all the major muscles groups in your body.
Easy To Stick With
A lot of people will dismiss this workout because it is too short with no chance to work up a ‘proper sweat’.
However, the reason the majority of people fail to stick to an exercise routine is usually because it involves long workouts.
Forming an exercise habit is fundamental to keeping fit and healthy.
By committing to just 7 minutes a day to this workout, you’ll more than likely stick with it and begin to increase the number of circuits as you become fitter.
Cardio and Strength Benefits
Designed to get your heart rate up whilst building muscle.
Can Easily Be Made Harder
If you think the circuit is too easy, try completing 3 or 4 of them.
You could also substitute some of the exercises for harder variations.
For example, you could perform decline push-ups instead of regular ones.
You could perform wall sits with your arms extended out to the sides making a small circular motion.
Not For Beginners
Some of the exercises in the 7 Minute Workout require proper form and technique in order to avoid possible injury.
If you are relatively new to working out, I suggest you learn how to perform the individual exercises before you start.
I have included videos for all the exercises below (plus easier and harder options for some of them).
There is also no mention about warming up properly.
As with any form of exercise it is recommended you spend a few minutes warming your muscles up before beginning the activity.
You could easily pull a muscle if you haven’t sufficiently warmed it up first.
Not Effective For Hard Core Muscle Gainers
As you can imagine the intensity of the individual exercises will not be enough to overload the muscles if you are into heavy weight training.
If this is you, the workout might however, be a good ‘stop-gap’ program during periods when you are not lifting.
It will keep you ‘ticking over’ without stressing any particular muscle group.
No Substitute For You Racing Snakes
If running is your thing, you certainly won’t feel the same ‘high’ you experience after a good distance run.
Running or jogging is in a different animal altogether and maybe shouldn’t be compared to a circuit workout.
You could effectively combine the two though, and complete a circuit or 2 during your non-running days.
If you want to learn how to do each exercise with correct form before you start the 7 Minute Workout, here you go:
1. Jumping Jacks
2. Wall sit
You can make the push up harder by lifting 1 leg off the floor or by placing your feet on a chair.
4. Abdominal crunch
5. Step-up onto chair
This exercise can be made harder by holding a weight in each hand. It could be water bottles or similar.
7. Triceps dip on chair
To make it harder, place a heavy weight on your lap, such as a few books or elevate your feet onto a cushion or chair.
9. High knees/running in place
As an alternative you could do rear lunges or easier side lunges.
11. Push-up and rotation
12. Side plank
I can certainly see the merits to this short, anywhere circuit, especially when time is not on your side.
It could also be a good addition to make up for any shortfalls in your weekly workouts i.e. if you miss one of your regular sessions or you are travelling.
The particular plus points for me are that it doesn’t require a gym or any equipment, it uses bodyweight resistance, incorporates cardio and strength training, and takes very little time – which may encourage more people to give it a go.
I’ve always enjoyed circuit training, and in my experience 30 seconds per exercise is just the right length of time to avoid failure.
I’m not sure this 7 minute workout (scientific or not) can have equal fitness benefits of a run/bike session and a weight training workout, as the study suggests.
However, 2 or 3 of these circuits back-to-back, just might.
What do you think?