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Can a 7 Minute Workout App Get the Job Done?




An interesting article appeared on Mashable over the weekend entitled Avoid the Crowded Gym With the 7 Minute Workout App. The article piqued our interest. Can you really get a good workout in only 7 minutes? We asked our colleagues at the Cybex Research Institute to look into this very question.

7 minutes falls short of ACSM Guidelines

According to our researchers, the 7  minute workout App in isolation does not meet the recommended guidelines from American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). The ACSM recommendation for cardiovascular exercise (30-60 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, five days per week, or 20-60 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise at least three days per week) is not met, though the 7 active minutes are supposed to be vigorous.  The ACSM recommendation for resistance exercise suggests using a weight heavy enough for 8-12 repetitions to improve strength, for 10-15 repetitions to improve strength in middle-aged and older persons who are beginning exercise, and for 15-20 repetitions to improve muscular endurance.  The body weight exercises in the 7 minute App may be challenging enough for some individuals to build strength, however, other individuals may be missing out on strength building as they develop muscular endurance.

Detrained need to be cautious

While we want to encourage people to exercise and get active, the 7 minute workout should be approached with caution as it is unclear if the program is well suited for someone who is detrained. The authors who penned the 7 minute workout program (Klika & Jordan, 2013*) advise caution in recommending the 7 minute protocol for individuals who are “overweight/obese, detrained, previously injured, or elderly or for individuals with comorbidities.”  Several exercises were stated by Kilka and Jordan to not be appropriate “for individuals with hypertension or heart disease.”

The jury is still out

After a literature search we were unable to find research reviewing the efficacy of this specific protocol. The scientific development of the protocol is based on past research findings, though some of the works cited include weighted resistance exercise and different models of cardio activity. In essence, the jury is still out in determining the efficacy of the 7 minute workout versus similar types of workouts. Given that there is little available research on this brand new protocol, we would be slow to embrace this new workout as the main component of our workout. Instead, we would test it out while maintaining our traditional workout routine.

So while the 7 minute protocol might be great for healthy individuals who need a quick workout, those who are in any way detrained should proceed with caution. We at Cybex want people to get healthy and get trained. This goal can often require a slightly more measured approach than the 7 minute app can provide.

Have questions about an app or routine you found online? Send us an email.

Also, help us out and Tweet this article or share it with your friends on social media.

*Klika, B., & Jordan, C. (2013). High-intensity circuit training using body weight: Maximum results with minimal investment. ASCM’s Health and Fitness Journal, 17(3), 8-13.

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Cybex is a provider and manufacturer of premium commercial fitness equipment. Content featured in the Cybex Fitness Blog is meant to inspire healthy living and wellness and should not be taken as medical advice. For medical advice please consult a doctor.


There's no wonder that someone would create that app, seeing how popular HIIT and Tabata training have become in the past few years. 
For some people 7 minutes of activity would be a full workout providing improvements in almost all physical aspects of fitness. For fit people this app might be handy for getting in 7 minutes of exercise instead of zero on hectic days. 
As far as the time factor I was skeptical about the ROM machine maker's claim about a full workout in four minutes. I tried one once and think that it is definitely possible. But from a mobile device application alone I doubt it.
Posted @ Monday, January 27, 2014 1:59 PM by Aaron
Thanks, Aaron, for weighing in. We were struck by the time factor dictated by this app. Given ACSM guidelines, does 7 minutes actually provide something meaningful? What do you think?
Posted @ Monday, January 27, 2014 2:02 PM by Orlee Berlove
Hi Orlee, 
I read the research the developers used to base the application on. It does refer to ACSM's guidelines that exercise duration should be at least 20 minutes for improvements in VO2 Max. So that means that most people will have to perform the app's circuit two or three times, which they do mention. And I would think some people would need to do it at their safe pace for possibly four rounds to get benefits. 
I do think that for someone with an already good level of fitness 7 minutes can provide some meaningful benefits. But this would require a high level of intensity, nothing most beginners or casual exercisers would withstand or possibly care to. As far as developing all of the components of fitness, I don't think it is enough, especially for strength building like your article states. And what about people that need to address flexibility, or focus on agility or balance?  
I have two issues with the app. The first is the app is almost taking a one size fits all approach and not clearly specifying who is best suited to use their app. Fitness as we know is a personal, individual thing. With my personal fitness goals it would not be appropriate or beneficial.  
My biggest issue is that they are touting the 7 minutes, but when you read their research you learn that it is most likely going to be 3 times that. So I feel the whole 7 minutes is more for marketing. 7 sounds much better than 21 for those who are pressed for time, and especially those that are not enthusiastic towards exercise.
Posted @ Monday, January 27, 2014 9:00 PM by Aaron
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