By Christie Melhorn, September 20 2016 —
In seven minutes you could brew a pot of coffee, scroll through your Instagram feed or better yet, sneak in a bit of exercise.
In the last year, High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has exploded in popularity due to its promise of trimming your figure without having to slog in the gym for hours or use fancy equipment. Most HIIT workouts last around 20–30 minutes, depending on the program. The American College of Sports Medicine (ASCM) Health and Fitness Journal advocates that you can condense a potent workout into seven simple but strenuous minutes. This week, I tested how much impact such a fleeting moment can have.
Despite the many “seven-minute” smartphone apps available, I went to 7-min.com to try the workout designed by Chris Jordan of the Human Performance Institute in Orlando, Florida. Here’s how it works: for 30 seconds, you crank through a body weight exercise at near your maximum ability, then take a terribly quick 10 second rest before the next move. The alternating spurts of intense movement and sweat melt fat faster than steady exercise by fluctuating your heart rate and working major muscle groups, such as the core and glutes. Jordan specifically structured their seven-minute workout to effectively exert and rest muscles, allowing you to push hard without losing stamina too quickly — and if you’re anything like me, this principle is very important. I’ve been late for class one too many times dragging myself across campus after a hard workout at the gym.
Embracing the “no gym needed” criteria of Jordan’s workout, I used my kitchen as a fitness experimentation lab and followed instructions given to me by 7-min.com.
It was refreshingly simple. After pressing the “start” button on the website’s homepage, a three-second timer counts you into the first exercise. This is followed by a series of wall-sits, push-ups, planks, squats and tricep dips, all of which are accompanied by visual demonstrations. A low buzz announces the beginning and end of each interval so you don’t need to fixate on the webpage to know when to switch. During rest periods, the next exercises are listed so you can prepare.
I was pleasantly surprised by the fluidity, simplicity and feel-good rush the seven-minute workout offered. The sweet dose of endorphins perked my energy levels and helped me stay concentrated on some late-night work. Better yet, it is a very low-commitment and you can literally do it anywhere.
But there are some flaws to this workout routine. You won’t gain metabolic benefits from such a short burst of activity. The seven-minute workout will not get you sliding into those jeans from first-year or guarantee you catch the train when you see it pulling in from the Crowchild overpass.
But for me, I found the seven minutes challenging enough that I could feel my body slowing towards the end.
However, the workout left me wanting more. I felt like I did a tough warm up rather than a satisfying workout. Stowed away in the ACSM’s article, Jordan himself recommends that you perform the seven-minute workout at least two or three times in a row to get the full effect.
Regarded simply as a fast way to get fit, the seven-minute workout is the fool’s gold of workout regimes. However, any form of exercise is better than none, and a student’s time is precious.
The seven-minute workout may not turn you into a marathon runner, but it could be a handy revitalizer before unearthing a new body paragraph in an essay or tucking into the next chapter of your textbook. Maybe the next time you’re at Thursden and run out of dance moves, you can just throw down the seven-minute workout. If anything, it offers a healthier alternative to guzzling a Red Bull at midnight and could be a welcome introduction into a more nourishing workout regime.
Correction: A previous version of this story mentioned Chris Jordan and Brett Klika as the cofounders of the workout on 7-min.com. While Klika coauthored the ASCM article, he had no role in designing the specific workout. The Gauntlet apologizes to our readers for this error.