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Saturday September 23, 2017

Can the 7 Minute Workout App really replace a Full Workout?

Can a 7 Minute Workout App Really Replace a Full Workout?

 

When I got a new phone recently I figured I’d try out some of the new fitness apps. Why not try to use technology to make my workouts easier, right? 

The one app that stuck out to me was this 7 minute workout app. It’s had some buzz in the media.[1] So after reading a bit about it, I had to give it a try. It sounded too good to be true. I wanted to share my results so other people can decide if it’s for them. 

Can a 7 minute workout really give you the exercise you need in a day? 

We’ve all probably heard about high-intensity interval training (HIIT), or high intensity circuit training. The idea is pretty simple. Basically, you do a bunch of exercises in a row at a very high intensity level but for a shorter interval. The point is to get the maximum benefit with the least time investment. There are more in-depth discussions of HIIT on this site, so you can read up about it in those articles.[2] 

The 7 minute workout is based on this high intensity concept, and there’s some science behind it.[3] Here’s how it works. You hit ‘start’ on the app and it takes you through a series of 12 workouts. You do each exercise for 30 seconds and take 10 second breaks in between. It does all the timing for you and tells you when to switch and what to do next. 

All the exercises require no special equipment. You only need a chair for doing step ups and tricep dips, as well as a bit of space to do jumping jacks and things like push-ups. 

I tried it for 10 days, almost every day. I did it instead of my normal 3 times a week workout at the gym. 

Here’s how it worked for me: 

My overall verdict that it’s really convenient, but I don’t think I’m going to stop going to the gym because of it. 

chair exerciseI didn’t feel the normal burn that I feel after a full workout. I didn’t feel much soreness the next day. That tells me that it maybe wasn’t hard enough. But I still found it useful and I’ll explain why below. 

But first, there are a few more issues I have with it. Every time I completed the circuit, I tracked my heart rate immediately after (with the heart rate monitor app on my phone). My heart rate usually got up to about 120 or so (my normal resting rate is about 60-70). So it definitely got my heart beating, but I wouldn’t say it’s in the hardcore cardio training zone for someone at my fitness level. 

It just didn’t feel long enough to get my heart rate really going, despite the fact that I really pushed myself on these circuits. I think that’s partially caused by some of the stability exercises involved in the circuit that aren’t as intense and allow you to slow down a bit. 

I also felt that I plateaued on the exercises pretty quickly. For example, a 30 second wall sit was kind of tough the first time. But by the fourth or fifth day of this workout, I was able to do it with very little effort. It would be ideal if you could alter the length of each set to challenge yourself more. 

But here’s why I think it’s still useful. The best part is that I can do it at home anytime I want. If I’m taking a 10 minute break from doing something, it’s an easy way to get the blood flowing through your body. It definitely got me sweating. 

I also feel that, psychologically, it’s not as difficult to convince yourself to do the workout when you know it’s only 7 minutes long. It’s also a great way to get into HIIT. 

It’s definitely better than not exercising at all. For example, if you’re traveling and can’t get to the gym, this is a great way to get a workout in. That’s probably how I’ll use it going forward. 

healthy habitsConclusions: 

Anytime someone proposes a shortcut to good health I’m usually pretty skeptical. Can a 7 minute workout really give me the physical activity that I need to combat a full day of sitting when at work? Probably not. 

It was probably wishful thinking to assume this could replace my normal workout routine. 

This doesn’t mean it’s useless. I found it very convenient and it still gave me some of the benefits of a workout. For example, when I did it in the morning I still got that feeling of increased focus and energy levels throughout the day (and the price is right, since the basic app is free). 

I also felt that I could still go to the gym later in the day. It didn’t make my muscles feel like they couldn’t do a workout until the next day. 

But to answer the question I asked at the outset: I won’t be cancelling my gym membership any time soon. 

Have you tried the 7 minute workout? Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below!

About the Author: Adam Ferguson. Adam is a health and fitness writer that blogs at ThinkHealthiness.com. He writes about everything from fitness to nutrition. 

References: 

1. Reynolds, Gretchen, NY Times. May 9, 2013: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/05/09/the-scientific-7-minute-workout/ 

2. Blazquez, Ivan. High-Intensity Interval Training: Less is More. Online at: http://liftforlife.com/content/Muscle-Building/high-intensity-interval-training.html

3. Klika, Brett C.S.C.S., B.S.; Jordan, Chris M.S, High-Intensity Circuit Training using Body Weight: Maximum Results With Minimal Investment. ACSM'S Health & Fitness Journal: May/June 2013 - Volume 17 - Issue 3 - p 8-13. Available at: http://journals.lww.com/acsm-healthfitness/Fulltext/2013/05000/HIGH_INTENSITY_CIRCUIT_TRAINING_USING_BODY_WEIGHT_.5.aspx  

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