In Exercise

Do 7-Minute Workouts Deliver?

 It seems we love 7-minute workouts, 4-minute workouts, even 10-minute workouts…. They’re all the rage. (Don’t miss my series of 4 blog posts on HIIT & Injury Risks and what it means for women in menopause. Start here.)

But seriously, we are making a hot mess of the science behind these workouts. We’re also forgetting “warm up” does not mean start with a high impact move. That, girlfriend, has been a problem for decades, at least the 3.5 decades I’ve been in fitness.

Even “experts” we’re supposed to trust who’ve gained celebrity as authority figures in health don’t get it right. Dr. Oz frequently brings his trainer on the show. I’ve pulled a video from a show segment featuring 7-minute workouts to share with you.

It’s Misleading

While, yes, High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has science behind it, it has to be used intelligently. It’s not simply “moving” for a short period of time that makes it HIIT. On the video there isn’t much breathlessness occurring for the exercisers. It is a 7-minute workout. It met that criteria.

What did work?

This was an example of circuit training. Using the term interval training is OK, too. But it was not a “high intensityinterval training” example.

That is entirely appropriate for beginners to advanced exercisers who want a time efficient workout.

The lower intensity means the exercise won’t have as powerful influence on metabolism and fat burning after exercise (compared to true High Intensity exercise). Likewise, because there isn’t any need, there is no real recovery between exercises. And that’s OK.

A sequence of exercises alternating upper and lower body exercises in quick succession does have science behind it. It is not, however, truly HIIT. [It’s called peripheral heart action, for the record.]

So promising HIIT-related results from something other than HIIT exercise, is “false advertising.” Granted this is a free video available to anyone at any time. However, why as an expert would you want to mislead? Unless you didn’t know better you wouldn’t have.

There’s More

That’s not what really disappoints me in this episode. Even more important to me is the potential for injury and the erroneous exercises.

=>When did jumping become a warm up? Starting with a high impact exercise fails to prepare the joints, ligaments, and muscles for the increased load. It’s like getting into a car with a 14-year old permit-user who floors it to go faster or crushes the brake. Your body feels that stress in a big way. It’s going from 0 to 100% in a single move.

=>“Chest press” has to happen with resistance to gravity or resistance of bands or pulleys (But erroneously it’s demonstrated in a standing position pressing out) if it’s intended for chest (Now, this exercise can be used for core or for a shoulder exercise for the appropriate person). As it was demonstrated it has no effect on major muscles that influence metabolism.

A 7-Minute Workouts Comparison

Dr Oz’ moves:

  • Jumping Jack
  • Touch
  • Front kick squats
  • Seated arm curl + Press
  • Side step dumbbell chest press
  • Knee lift with side bend
  • Kickback with punch (back kick front punches RL)

Here’s my version:

Warm up for 3-5 minutes first! March in place (or march in place while you’re watching the instruction portion)

You’ll start the workout at 2:37. Complete the 11 exercises each for 40-50 seconds once you’ve gone through this once or repeat this short sequence as is a second time. Finish every session with stretching. 

My moves:

  • Front Kicks
  • Jab
  • Side Kicks
  • Upper cut with stable squat
  • Squats
  • Push Ups (I show floor on toes>knees> or the wall to modify)
  • Slow roll-backs (avoid roll up if you have back issues: roll to side and come up)
  • Triceps Dips (Careful of shoulders and elbows: skip or repeat another ex if needed)
  • Front Punches
  • Front Kick repeats
  • Stationary Lunge

This too is an alternating upper and lower body exercise with minimal breaks. It’s a different way to “interval” consistent of a circuit of intervals. It’s an excellent “quickie” for travel days or crazy days. It’s short enough to repeat twice. There won’t be muscle “fatigue” as much as there will be muscle stimulation.

This is what I call a consistency keeper and energy booster. When your weights can’t happen, when you can’t get in a 20 minute interval set, this once or twice through is an example of what you “can do.” In reality though most workouts “cheat” labeling 7-minute workouts since you’ve got to do a warm up! and cool down!

The Flipping Message?

It’s reader and viewer beware. Ask questions. Challenge the information. Be a critical thinker. Make sure that you’re filtering for YOU. Ask if that segment was designed for you.

Even with a medical professional, a certified trainer, and a stable of producers who likely fact-check this episode segment had gaps in the utility for you, or any user.

If it intended to show how easy it is to set up a circuit you can do in minutes at home this segment did that. It could have done so with more appropriate warm up and exercises accurately targeting desired outcome.

I advise you keep it simple and custom.

Choose the goal. Avoid any injury. Choose the exercises.

7-Minute Workouts FLIP: 10 minutes, not 4, 6, or even 7, minutes of high intensity interval training was recently shown MOST effective for positively influencing hormones. It’s clear that low volume high intensity interval training is effective, provided it reach a threshold of at least 10 minutes duration for postmenopausal women.

Looking for workouts, recipes, coaching and community that are already filtered for you based on research about you [women in perimenopause, menopause, and beyond] so you know they’re proven to work? The Cafe is open for enrollment twice a year.

Resources: 
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29088015
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24552980
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30277921

You also might like: 

Sprints for Healthy Body Composition

P.S. I think Dr. Oz brings important topics to the public’s attention! This is not a slam on him or the show. I do think he could have done better here. With a broad viewership there’s a responsibility to say, who’s this for and why. Under that though, incorrect exercises without specifically targeting the said goal is irresponsible.


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