In May 2013 a scientific paper emerged detailing twelve basic physical exercises that use only body weight, a chair and a wall. Published in the American College of Sports Medicine’s Health & Fitness Journal, the routine meets the latest requirements for “high intensity effort” – physically depleting you in just seven minutes.
The success of the scientific seven minute workout has led many to create their own variations, mobile applications and premium exercise plans – but there’s really no need. There are lots of YouTube videos that can show you exactly how your workouts should be going, and they won’t cost you a penny.
The Seven Minute Workout
There are no shortage of seven minute workout videos on YouTube, but before you jump in it might be worth considering your current level of fitness. The merits of high-intensity exercise go beyond “getting it out of the way”, and some claim that short bursts of energetic exercise can yield better results than longer sessions. Naturally, that doesn’t mean the seven minute workout is for everyone.
Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald, Heart Foundation New South Wales Chief Executive Kerry Doyle said: “The seven-minute workout is a vigorous program suitable for people with an established level of fitness and who already exercise daily … in 2007 to 2008, around 62 per cent of [Australian] adults did not meet the recommended physical activity guidelines, with a higher proportion of women not meeting the guidelines than men.”
The advice from healthcare professionals is to start slow and work your way up. An exercise program like this appeals to those of us looking for a quick fix, but doing too much too quickly can cause injury or wipe you out and put you off getting fit altogether. Simply slowing down and listening to what your body is telling you is a good start, but you can also reduce the intensity of certain exercises like push-ups by doing knee push-ups (or wall push-ups).
The seven minute workout is designed as a cycle to be repeated as your overall fitness level improves. For many people, one seven minute workout isn’t enough, so while there’s something to be said for doing too much too soon, it’s also unwise to set your expectations too high when you’re putting in less than ten minutes of concentrated effort per day.
Important: Don’t forget to adequately warm up (and warm down) before trying anything in these videos.
It’s important to focus on form while exercising, as working out properly will provide the best results and vastly reduce your chances of injury. For beginners it is recommended you use a video like that below from PopSugar, which clearly demonstrates what each exercise involves on a real human body.
In essence, you’ll only ever need to watch these a few times before you get to grips with the various techniques. The fact that it’s on YouTube means you can do it anywhere you’re comfortable working up a sweat, on pretty much any device. An alternative video below pays particular attention to demonstrating each exercise, while describing exactly what is happening.
Both of these videos demonstrate excellent form and are great starting points for beginners unfamiliar with these exercises. You should watch them before trying them, and use them to ease yourself into your routine.
Switching It Up
Once you’re familiar with the various forms involved, you can switch things up by using some of the many other videos on YouTube. Because these videos combine the same twelve exercises, if you get bored you can simply find another. Once you’ve got your form sorted, you might want to try a more minimal approach.
The video above (from YouTube user pelowfig) and below (from Lifehack) include music, countdowns and simple visual prompts to get you moving. If you’re sick of the same motivational sound-bytes or enthusiastic breakfast TV style, they offer a nice alternative.
Better still If you’re feeling really bored of regular workout videos, try Jonathan Mann’s musical version below. It’s just as hard as the rest, but don’t be surprised if you have trouble keeping a straight face.
Working Up A Sweat
We’ve discussed the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle and what you can do about it, and Yarra discovered a few things you can do at your desk to keep the blood pumping too. We’ve even covered the seven minute workout from a mobile perspective, and there’s a handy web timer if you love spending time inside a web browser. At the end of the day, your own determination and ability to remain motivated will decide whether you keep up with it or not.
You might find a more involved free exercise program is required to truly hoist yourself off the sofa. There are also premium exercise routines to try in case the freebies don’t work for you, like Fitstar for iOS which is still far cheaper than a gym subscription.
Image credits: Pushups! (Nick Royer), 2008.11.27 – Training shoes (Adrian Clark), Stretch (Glen Scott)