Despite the popular belief that the long duration of exercise provides best effects, it turns out that the intensity of short workout significantly boosts the desired effects.
These really short, but intense workouts are becoming regulars in the fitness scene, as the body is apparently biologically programmed to respond to similarly intense bursts of activity.
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is highly effective as it does not require much time or equipment.
Can a 7-minute intense workout really provide such excellent results?
The study conducted by Brett Klika, a performance coach for the Human Performance Institute (HPI) in Orlando, Florida, and Chris Jordan, the director of exercise physiology at the HPI, examined the health benefits of high-intensity circuit training (HICT).
It involved professionals and athletes with “incessant demands on their time,” who performed aerobic and resistance training two or three nonconsecutive days weekly.
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends eight to 12 repetitions, and two to four sets of resistance training for each major muscle group.
They also advise 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity exercise for 30 to 60 minutes per session and/or 75 minutes per week of vigorous-intensity exercise for 20 to 60 minutes of aerobic training.
“Although these traditional protocols can be effective, they may not be realistic enough for time-conscious adults because of the amount of time necessary to complete each program, in addition to some limitations to effectiveness demonstrated in the literature.”
They designed a program that combines aerobic and resistance training that lasts for 7 minutes. They explained:
“Our approach combines aerobic and resistance training into a single exercise bout lasting approximately [seven] minutes. Participants can repeat the [seven]-minute bout two to three times, depending on the amount of time they have.
As body weight provides the only form of resistance, the program can be done anywhere.
HICT is not a new concept, but it is growing in popularity because of its efficiency and practicality for a time-constrained society. The combination of aerobic and resistance training in a high-intensity, limited-rest design can deliver numerous health benefits in much less time than traditional programs.”
The basis of the HICT program developed by Klika and Jordan lies in the circuit-style training initially developed by R.E. Morgan and G.T. Anderson in 1953 at the University of Leeds in England. It involves
9 to 12 exercises performed at moderate intensity for a specified number of repetitions or amount of time. This boosted endurance, muscle strength, and aerobic fitness, and led to the following benefits:
Fat Loss and Weight Loss
This workout engages many large muscles with very little rest between sets, which causes aerobic and metabolic benefits that last up to 72 hours after the workout.
It also causes greater fat loss as it raises the levels of catecholamines and human growth hormone (HGH) in the blood.
Reduced Insulin Resistance
It also decreases insulin resistance, which stimulates the development of type 2 diabetes.
A follow-up study also showed that HIIT positively affected insulin sensitivity, since it improved the regulation of blood sugar in patients with type 2 diabetes within 24 hours.
Klika and Jordan reported, “Positive changes have been observed in insulin resistance in as little as eight minutes per week when executed at an intensity more than 100 [percent] VO2 max.”
Improved VO2 Max
VO2 stands for the maximum amount of oxygen one can take during exercise. Researchers noted that “When HICT protocols have been compared with traditional steady state protocols in the laboratory, HICT elicits similar and sometimes greater gains in VO2 max despite significantly lower exercise volume.”
Klika and Jordan’s sample HICT program showed that this workout plan was created to:
-- Be completely safe and appropriate
-- Be modified and adapted to boost or reduce intensity
-- To balance the strength of the body
-- Be interactive with items of the training environment, like walls or stairs
-- To use large muscle groups in order to boost resistance and aerobic intensity
-- To develop all major muscle groups
-- To be easily changed to accommodate minimized rest time
There are 30 seconds for each exercise and 10 seconds for transitions. The 7-minute workout can be repeated up to three times, in the following order:
- Jumping jacks (total body)
- Wall sits (lower body)
- Pushup (upper body)
- Abdominal crunch (core)
- Step-up onto chair (total body)
- Squat (lower body)
- Triceps dip on chair (upper body)
- Plank (core)
- High knees/running in place (total body)
- Lunge (lower body)
- Pushup and rotation (upper body)
- Side plank (core)
The higher the intensity, the shorter the exercise should be.
This might be too hard at the beginning, but over time, you will be able to reach the aim.
According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE), during a typical HIIT workout, “Training is done at a submaximal level; around 80 to 95 percent of maximal aerobic capacity.”
The featured study also stated:
“More moderate protocols (90 [percent] to 100 [percent] of VO2 max) have been examined for various total exercise durations. Although these protocols seem to require slightly more total exercise time to be effective, they still are well below the steady state exercise time requirements.
Because most individuals may not be able to execute the program at an intensity significantly greater than 100 [percent] of their VO2 max following the established ACSM guidelines for the high-intensity exercise of at least 20 minutes is recommended.
This may require multiple repetitions (or circuits) of a multistation exercise circuit.”
Nowadays, we are all in a rush and lack time. Therefore, this exercise is perfect for all those who cannot find time to hit the gym. If you have more than 7 minutes, repeat it 2-3 times. This will reduce body fat, increase VO2 max, and improve insulin sensitivity and muscle strength.
As Klika and Jordan maintain, “Individuals who previously believed that they did not have the time for exercise can now trade total exercise time for total exercise effort and get similar or better health and fitness benefits.”