You know how much I love testing things I see in the newspapers – there was the happy morning I spent practicing trying to stand up from a seated position without moving my hands (supposed to determine how long you’ll live), then there was the ‘does skipping reduce your appetite‘ post…..this morning I was lounging about catching up with the week’s news and I spotted this….the seven-minute workout that’s as beneficial as a long run.
Next thing I know I’ve got my trainers on and a stopwatch and I’m leaping up and down doing Star Jumps. About 60 seconds later while balancing against the wall with burning thighs I’m regretting this decision. The Seven-Minute Workout might sound easy….but it hurts.
How to do The Seven-Minute Workout
The principle is this. There are 12 moves and you must do each of them for 30 seconds, then take a 10-second rest before moving to the next one. Aerobic moves must be done as hard and fast as you possibly can – and apparently, you should be in pain afterwards. A full set of the moves in the seven-minute workout (and the paper) can be found by clicking here, but in a nutshell it’s….
Jumping Jacks, Wall Squats, Push Ups, Crunches, Step ups on a chair, Squats, Tricep Dips, Plank, Running on the spot, Lunges – and just because they want to kill you at the end, a Push Up with rotation and then a Side Plank. Now I admit, I can’t do those last two exercises solo, let alone after 6 minutes of all-out other body moves but I figure let’s give it all a go.
What does it feel like?
Hmmm, I have a mixed verdict. It’s a great all-round workout – although the 10-second ‘rest’ is a misnomer as it’s about the same amount of time as it takes you to get into the next position.
Yes, some of the moves are killers, but I think that’s more to do with your own personal weaknesses than anything else.
The cardio was easy for me (although I could probably go harder if I did it again now I know what to expect), the exercises where I’m strong – like squats, press ups, lunges and normal planks were also fairly easy as I don’t think I could do those faster without losing form and risking injury – but those where I’m weak (wall squats as they hurt my knees, the last two and the tricep dips) did hurt a lot. I was puffing by the end of it but I hadn’t broken into a sweat.
At this point, I was confused. Did the seven-minute workout feel as hard as my 5k Park run yesterday morning? (40 seconds off last week – new PB – nearly threw up at the end) – erm no. I also wouldn’t say it was as tough as my Educogym weights (although it’s along the same principle – lots of reps to fatigue and no rest in between). Does this means the scientists have lied?… Also, no.
Here comes the catch…
You see if you read all the way down to the end of the paper, they explain that most people on their own won’t reach the intensity you need to get results from this program in one seven-minute set. They therefore suggest this isn’t a workout you do once. It’s actually designed to be repeated 2-3 times – giving you 14-21 minutes of exercise not a seven-minute workout.
Suddenly it all becomes clear – now that would be a killer workout.
However I did learn something very useful…..
Now as fun as the workout was to try (and I would do it again on days when I can’t get to the gym as you can do it anywhere) the thing I found most interesting about the paper was not the moves but a line in the third section on Fat/Weight Loss which explained something to me.
When I hit the gym, I do a mix of heavy-weights at low-reps with no rest in between sets – the program that the lovely Educogym people taught me.
This makes me quite a novelty in my gym where the weights machines are full of men trying to bulk up and sitting there for ages between reps (although note to the bloke who was sat there for 10 minutes talking on his phone the other day -a) that’s too long b) you have to push them to get bigger, it’s not done by osmosis).
I therefore always feel a bit strange as I literally run from one machine to the next – however now I understand why I’m doing it. This combo provides the maximum release of fat burning chemicals and growth hormone – the ultimate combo for building muscle AND stripping fat, which is what I want to do. At least now, when I have to ask one of the sitting men nicely if I can swap in I can explain ‘I need to release my catecholamines.’ That’ll confuse them.
Main image: Istockphoto.com