If you’re like most people, finding time to exercise can be a challenge.
Whether it’s driving to the gym, waiting to use equipment, or just mustering up the motivation to spend an hour working out, most people struggle to maintain a consistent and regular workout schedule.
Fortunately, the 7-minute workout was invented as a solution to this problem while also improving one’s strength and cardiorespiratory fitness. All you need is a chair, a wall, and seven minutes of your time to get your heart rate going.
But, just like the dozens of bogus workout plans out there, you may think this also sounds too good to be true.
That’s why I’ve reviewed the 7-minute workout for you to help you learn all about it, its pros and cons, and whether it’s worth adding to your training program.
My name is Katey Davidson. I’m a Canadian registered dietitian (RD) and certified personal trainer (CPT).
I hold a Master of Science in Foods and Nutrition from Western University (Brescia University College) and a personal training certification through the American Council on Exercise.
My main areas of interest include nutrition and fitness for the general population as well as sports nutrition. In addition, I have been an athlete the majority of my life and have always had a keen interest in the roles of nutrition and physical fitness on health and longevity.
Today, I enjoy getting a variety of physical activity through weight training, Pilates, cycling, and playing soccer and tennis.
The 7-minute workout is a high intensity workout that alternates between 30 seconds of high-intensity exercise and 10 seconds of rest. It includes 12 key exercises that target your major muscle groups using only your body weight, a chair, and a wall.
The program was first recommended in 2013 in the American College of Sports Medicine’s Health and Fitness Journal. The authors noted that the exercises in the 7-minute workout should (1):
- Promote strength development in all major muscle groups
- Use large muscles to create resistance and aerobic intensity
- Establish a balance of strength throughout the body
- Be easily modified to increase or decrease the intensity
- Be safe and appropriate for all participants
- Interactive with available equipment and space
- Be easily transitioned to minimize rest time
The goal of the 7-minute workout is to combine strength, endurance, and aerobic training into one easy-to-perform workout that can help support weight loss and improve metabolic health (1).
Since its initial release, there are many versions of the 7-minute workout, including numerous apps that will guide you through a 7-minute workout on demand.
The 7-minute workout is a quick and convenient full-body workout that targets all major muscle groups while also raising your heart rate for a well-rounded workout.
Most versions of the 7-minute workout include 12 exercises that target your main muscle groups, including your core, legs, glutes, back, and arms.
You only need a chair (or bench) and wall, meaning you can perform the workout anywhere and anytime.
Though it’s called the 7-minute workout, the creators of the workout intended for users to perform it 2–3 times, meaning if you do it the intended time, it’s really more like 14 to 21 minutes in length (1).
If you prefer to follow along with a workout instructor, there are many apps to choose from. Though, the most popular apps include the Johnson and Johnson “Official 7 Minute Workout” and “7 Minute Workout: Fitness App” by Fast Builder Limited.
Alternatively, you can perform your own 7-minute workout by grabbing a timer and following the traditional 7-minute workout, which I’ve included later on in this article.
The 7-minute workout includes 12 exercises that target all major muscle groups. Though you can do one circuit for seven minutes, the original creators designed the circuit to be performed 2–3 times for a total of 14–21 minutes, making the name a little misleading.
If you’re considering the 7-minute workout, there are many benefits.
It’s quick and convenient
The 7-minute workout is already planned for you and can be performed almost anywhere, making it very convenient for busy people.
It’s also quick — as I’m sure you guessed from its name — so you can get in a pretty good workout in little time. Though the creators intended it to be performed in 2–3 circuits, you can do the workout just once and still get your heart rate up.
It’s based on science
It’s similar to high-intensity interval training (HIIT), which takes you through various exercises with little breaks in between.
In particular, when the 7-minute workout is performed at least 2–3 times (totalling around 14 to 21 minutes in length), it will likely confer the most benefits. So, if you have the time, it’s ideal to do a few rounds (
Suitable for beginners
The 7-minute workout uses your body weight, a chair, and a wall, which can be much less intimidating than a gym full of workout equipment.
The great thing about this workout is that it’s pre-planned and straightforward, letting you focus on improving your fitness.
If you’re new to exercise, you can modify the 7-minute workout based on your needs. For instance, you can take longer breaks between exercises to allow yourself to catch your breath.
Here are some other benefits to the 7-minute workout:
- It’s free. If you follow the traditional workout by yourself, there are zero costs to this workout. You can also download many free apps, but note that they may have paywalls to certain content.
- It’s a full-body workout. This workout is designed to target your major muscle groups and get your heart rate up.
- It may support weight loss. If you do the 7-minute workout a few times per week (especially if you do multiple circuits), this may contribute to a calorie deficit needed for weight loss.
The 7-minute workout is quick, convenient, free (unless you pay for an app), requires only a chair and a wall, improves your strength and cardiorespiratory fitness, and may support weight loss.
Though there are many benefits to the 7-minute workout, there are some downsides.
It’s not meant to be just 7 minutes
Despite its name, the 7-minute workout was designed to be a 7-minute circuit that you perform 2–3 times. Therefore, you’re actually going to spend 14–21 minutes doing it.
If you only have seven minutes to spare, you can still get your heart rate up, but it may not be enough to really build up your strength or burn enough calories for significant weight loss.
That said, my philosophy is “any exercise is better than none”. So, if you can only move for seven minutes, then that’s better for you than nothing.
It may not be true “high intensity”
Some critics of the 7-minute workout argue that it’s not a true high-intensity workout and doesn’t provide the same benefits as high-intensity interval training (HIIT).
For instance, one study found that though the 7-minute workout did increase heart rate and VO₂ max (a measure of fitness), it was not as effective as a traditional HIIT workout that used a cycling bike for the same amount of time (
In fact, the participants that used a cycling bike had a greater heart rate, VO₂ max, rate of perceived exertion (RPE), and calorie expenditure compared to the 7-minute workout group (
Interestingly, the researchers noticed that participants doing the 7-minute workout experienced variations in their heart rate and VO₂ max which was thought to be due to one’s personal ability to perform an exercise (
For instance, if a person has a weaker upper body, they may struggle to perform pushups and therefore exert less effort during it. Since HIIT requires you to keep your heart rate up throughout the workout, this may explain the differences in results.
That said, the authors still recommended the 7-minute workout as a suitable option for high-intensity exercise since it’s convenient, accessible, and time efficient, which are major factors to exercise adherence (
It may not help you reach performance goals
If you have specific performance goals, the 7–minute workout probably isn’t right for you.
The 7-minute workout is intended to be a quick and convenient full-body workout. It’s not designed to improve specific performance indicators, such as your 1-rep max or personal best for a long-distance run.
If you have certain goals in mind, you’re better off following a training program that is designed specifically for the sport or activity in mind.
You may become bored of it
Though convenient, the 7-minute workout consists of the same exercises each time and must be followed in the same order to allow different muscle groups to relax.
Over time, you may grow tired of the exercises, which may lead to a workout plateau and decrease your motivation to keep working out. Therefore, you may want to add in other types of physical activity throughout the week to increase variety and keep things interesting.
The 7-minute workout may not be suitable for advanced exercisers or people with specific performance goals. Also, depending on your fitness level, you may need to do a few rounds of the 7-minute workout to get in a high intensity workout.
Before starting the 7-minute workout, there are a few things you should consider.
First, if you have a current or preexisting injury, health condition, or are new to exercise, you should consult your healthcare provider to make sure it’s right for you.
Second, you should do a light warmup before diving into the 7-minute workout. This will help lower your risk of injury by preparing your muscles and joints for the workout ahead.
Finally, the 7-minute workout may not be suitable for people who are new to exercise and have very low cardio endurance. In this case, it’s better to start with lower intensity exercise such as walking.
Before starting the 7-minute workout, you’ll want to make sure you do a light warm-up first. Also be sure to speak with a healthcare provider if you are new to exercise or have any injuries or serious medical conditions.
If you want to try the 7-minute workout on your own, follow the instructions below.
After you’ve warmed up with some dynamic stretches and movements, set your timer to 30 seconds and start the first exercise. You’ll only rest 10 seconds between each exercise. Here’s the list of exercises in order you should do them:
- Jumping jacks (30 seconds)
- Wall sit (30 seconds)
- Pushups (30 seconds)
- Crunches (30 seconds)
- Step-up onto chair, alternating legs (30 seconds)
- Squats (30 seconds)
- Triceps dips, using a chair or bench (30 seconds)
- Forearm plank (30 seconds)
- High-knees or running in place (30 seconds)
- Lunges, alternating legs (30 seconds)
- Pushups with rotation, alternating sides (30 seconds)
- Side plank (30 seconds)
Once you’ve completed all 12 exercises, take a break for 1–2 minutes and repeat the circuit another 2–3 times.
To do the 7-minute workout, you’ll perform on exercise for 30 seconds followed by a 10 second rest. Continue through each exercise until you reach the end. Ideally, repeat this 2–3 times.
If you’re giving it your all, you can get in a pretty good workout in just seven minutes.
The key is that you need to be at a high-intensity the entire time, which can be quite the challenge.
But, if you’re trying to lose weight, exercising for only seven minutes may not burn many calories during the exercise and may not be long enough to achieve excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), which burns calories hours after the workout is finished (
To remedy this, try to do a few rounds of the 7-minute workout which will extend the time you’re exercising and keep your heart rate up for a longer time.
Nevertheless, if you only have seven minutes a day to exercise, then I still recommend this workout. Remember, any increase in physical activity is always a great idea.
Depending on your intensity, you may be able to get in a good workout in just seven minutes.
The 7-minute workout is a quick, convenient workout that will get your heart rate up and strengthen your muscles.
Though short, you can get in a good workout if you give it your all and maintain a high intensity the entire time. For best results, I recommend repeating the workout 2–3 times.
But, if you have specific performance goals or are an experienced exerciser, you may not benefit much from the 7-minute workout.
Overall, the 7-minute workout can be a great option if you’re trying to establish a workout habit, if you’re running short on time, if you dislike exercising for long periods of time, of if you prefer full-body workouts.
The 7-minute workout is a good option for people with limited time and want to get in a quick full-body workout. If you have certain performance goals, it’s probably not right for you.
The 7-minute workout is a full-body workout that requires little equipment and time.
It targets all major muscle groups and gets your heart racing in as little as seven minutes. Over time, this can help to strengthen your heart, lungs, and muscles to improve your fitness.
For best results, try to repeat the 7-minute workout a few times for the best results. Though, this means you’re likely exercising for longer than seven minutes.
Depending on your fitness level and goals, the 7-minute workout may or may not be right for you. But, if you’re just trying to get in some more movement in your day, then this is a great place to start.