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The 7-Minute Workout: What you should know

Is the plan too good to be true? We asked 2 local fitness pros.

Can working out for seven minutes really lead to a better body?

The 7 Minute Workout – a high-intensity circuit training workout that uses your own body weight as resistance – is the latest craze to hit the fitness industry and it has some scientific studies to back it up.

One such study published by the American College of Sports Medicine’s Fitness & Health Journal shows that when you work close to your maximum capacity with resistance — even for a short time — you are able to change your muscles in the same way that you would by running for a few hours.

What exactly is the 7 Minute Workout?

Written about in the May 13 issue of The New York Times Magazine, the 7 Minute Workout consists of a series of 12 exercises done in rapid succession, allowing 30 seconds for each with a brief rest (about 10 seconds) in between. All that is needed is a chair and a wall, as the exercises use a person’s own body weight as resistance. Some of the exercises include: jumping jacks, squats, abdominal crunches and push-ups.

“This is technically a peripheral heart action circuit,” said Mark Carpenter, head coach at Prodigy Fitness in Springboro. “This is where you rotate an upper body exercise with a lower body exercise. This allows your upper body to recover somewhat while you are hitting your lower body. Going for time rather than reps is a good idea, as it teaches you to push through fatigue and not focus on a number of reps.”

Why are people talking about it?

Carpenter says that the fitness industry often gets focused on “the new big thing” — especially when that “new big thing” appears to be a quick-fix solution to the never-ending battle of the bulge.

“The two biggest reasons people give for not working out is that they don’t have the equipment and they don’t have the time,” said Stacey Harris of Fairborn, who is a personal trainer with Lifetime Fitness in Mason.

The 7 Minute Workout appears to be the perfect answer for both excuses.

Then again … maybe not.

What it means to you

“This program would definitely work for someone trying to get back into exercising; but for most people who already do something fitness-wise, seven minutes isn’t near enough time to reap any real cardiovascular benefit,” said Harris. “I’d recommend doing this circuit two or three times to depending on your current fitness level — get the time closer to 25 minutes. However, this is definitely not something you should be doing for an hour.”

Carpenter agrees. “Circuit training such as this is very good for fat burning. This circuit can be a good stepping-stone for a beginner and a more advanced person could use this as a quick workout when on the go.” He says that one problem with this workout is that fact that you can “outgrow” it pretty quickly. “Our bodies will adapt to work loads if they are not changed,” said Carpenter. “Seven minutes is not enough to get you to a point where you would be considered healthy. I would recommend this as a small part of a comprehensive program.”

Still, both men agree that doing something, even for a short amount of time, is better than leading a sedentary lifestyle, and anyone beginning any new exercise program, should consult with their physician first.

“The bottom line is that most ‘new ideas’ are recycled,” said Carpenter. “There is no one style of training that will quickly get your desired results. A well-rounded program includes resistance training, flexibility training, cardio, proper nutrition and a recovery routine. This becomes easier to understand with the guidance of a qualified coach. My challenge to you is to look in the mirror, visualize the goals you are working towards and ask yourself, ‘Will seven minutes a day get me there?’ ”

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