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A Fast and Effective 7-Minute WorkoutA Fast and Effective 7-Minute Workout


7-Minute Workout

Termed high-intensity circuit training (HICT), the 7-minute workout is similar to high-intensity interval training (HIIT), but it incorporates both cardio and strength training exercises. Research suggests that HICT provides a fast and efficient way to lose weight. Studies also indicate that it may target subcutaneous fat loss better than lengthy, steady-paced cardio or strength sessions. Improved insulin resistance and increased aerobic capacity are some of the many health benefits of regular HICT.

While HICT has been made popular as a 7-minute workout, researchers point out that for maximum health benefit, the circuits should be performed two to three times for a total of 14 to 21 minutes. HICT exercises are challenging, cause discomfort, and result in fatigue. This type of training is not for beginners. You will move quickly through exercises and this requires that you know safe exercise form to prevent injury.

Components of 7-minute HICT Workout

  • Targets all muscle groups with special emphasis on large muscles to increase intensity.
  • Easy to modify to increase or reduce intensity levels.
  • Uses what is available (benches, steps, walls).
  • Provides smooth transition from one exercise to the next.
  • Alternates between upper and lower body moves.
  • Alternates between exercises that increase heart rate and those that lower it.
  • Includes 9 to 12 exercises.
  • Includes 15 to 20 repetitions for each exercise.
  • Includes intervals lasting at least 30 seconds with 10 seconds to transition between exercises.

7-minute HICT Example Workout

HICT can be adjusted to include any of your favorite cardio or strength moves. Use this example to get started. Perform each exercise for 30 seconds and take no more than 10 seconds to transition between exercises.

High Knees - Run in place lifting your knees high towards your chest while holding your stomach muscles tight.

One Leg Plank - Get into a plank position on the floor on your elbows and toes. Elevate your right foot slightly off the floor, raising your leg and contracting your buttocks. Raise it for 15 seconds and then switch and raise your left leg.

Push-ups - Get into a push-up position on the floor with your hands a little wider than shoulder-width apart. You can perform the exercise on your toes or on your knees. Lower your chin to the ground, keeping your abs tight and your body in a straight line from head to heels (or knees). Push back up to the starting position.

Alternating Forward Lunges - Step your right foot forward and lower into a lunge position. Lower the left knee to the ground and bend the right knee, being sure that it doesn’t shift forward past your toes. Raise yourself back up, step back to the starting position. Repeat with your left leg.

Jump Squats - Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Lower into a squat (sit back and keep your knees behind your toes). Push yourself up with an explosive movement. Land and lower into a squat again to repeat.

Standing Side Crunches - Stand with your feet wider than your hips and lower into a squat or plié squat position. Place your left fingertips behind your left ear. Extend your right arm down your right side. Lean to the right and reach your hand towards your right ankle. Return to start. Crunch on the right side for 15 seconds and then switch to the left side.

Pike Push-ups - Get into downward dog position with your hands shoulder-width apart on the floor. Use your shoulders as you lower your head to the ground and push back up to a downward dog position.

Jump Rope - Quickly jump in place as you circle your forearms with your elbows tucked into your sides as if you were swinging a jump rope.

Side Lunges - Start with feet hip-width apart. Step your right leg out to the right and bend the right knee. Keep the left leg straight with the foot flat on the floor. Push off your right leg and return to the starting position. Switch legs and lunge to the left.

Side Plank - Lie on the floor on one side. Bring yourself onto your elbow and extend your legs in a straight line. Support your weight with your elbow and your stacked feet. Hold for 15 seconds and switch sides.

Jumping Jacks - Jump both legs out as you lift both arms into the air. Jump the feet back together as the arms come down. Repeat.

Wall Sit - Position yourself so that your back is against the wall. Lower until you are in a seated position and your knees are at a 90-degree angle with your legs supporting your weight. Hold the position for the full 30 seconds.

Lori Rice, M.S., is a nutritional scientist and author with a passion for healthy cooking, exercise physiology, and food photography.
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