Super Shape in 7 Minutes: The New 7-Minute Workout

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

Time-efficient bodyweight circuit training? Here is the New 7-Minute Workout.
Some time ago the “The 7-Minute Workout” was making headlines in fitness media around the World. As circuit training is excellent for allround fitness, fatburning and weight loss and on the Top 20 Fitness trends 2015 list here is a new improved 7-Minute Workout for variety.

The original 7-Minute workout is in reality just one example of a circuit training workout and was provided by the authors of the ACSM article: High-Intensity Circuit Training Using Bodyweight about HICT, High-Intensity Circuit Training.

The 7-Minute Workout is an excellent way of exercising both at home, in the gym and on the road; travel fitness.

However, in fact this workout as well as similar circuit and interval programs are rather:
The 14 Minute Workout, The 21 Minute Workout (20 min. minimum recommended in the ACSM article) or The 28 Minute Workout, when you do a warm-up (which you should) and add extra rounds of the exercise series (which you normally do in circuit training). Even so circuit training is very time-efficient training.

7_minute_workout_exercise_chair_step_up_Marina_Aagaard

The HICT Circuit training concept is great, however, the original “7-Minute Workout” model as demonstrated in most media including the ACSM Journal could be better I think: The model has more isometric exercises, less functional exercises and a less than ideal sequence.

Recently I was asked to be the ‘workout expert’ on a 7-Minute Workout video, which I accepted as I was allowed to make a New Workout with some small adjustments:

  • To minimize premature fatigue; a slighty changed exercise order.
  • To preserve intensity and functionality; wall squat replaced by box squat.
  • To protect the shoulders and balance the workout; chair dips replaced by back extension (as there were 3 triceps exercises and 0 back exercises).
  • To avoid confusion; reverse plank instead of side plank (do you change side half way or do left side, round 1, and right side, round 2 (= 14 min. workout)?

To remain faithful to the original concept the structure, most original exercises including the isometric exercises are still in. Personally I would leave isometric core exercises for after a circuit workout, as I would like even more intensity, but maybe maybe next time.

Link to Danish video with the new 7-Minute workout. Exerciser: Coach Filip Hansen.

The New 7-Minute Workout

Every exercise is performed for 30 seconds; 12×30=6 min. + extra seconds for change.

  1. Jumping jacks
  2. Push-ups
  3. Squat
  4. Ab curl
  5. Step up (cardio version with leg change every step)
  6. Back extension
  7. Lunge
  8. T-push-up (push-up with turn right and left)
  9. Kneelift (jog on the spot, tempo with high kneelifts)
  10. Reverse plank
  11. Box squat (squat, buttocks touch (preferably low box) box lightly)
  12. Plank

The_New_7- Minute_Workout_Circuit_training_Marina_Aagaard

Training tips

  • Warm up for 7-10 minutes; easy jogging, low impact dancing or similar.
  • Repeat the sequence 2-3 times for extra effect.
  • Cool down for 3-5 minutes; walking or similar.
  • Safety: Use sturdy chair or box for stepping. Feet safely centered on the top.
  • Technique: Keep the correct posture and technique in spite of tempo and quick changes; Watch your knees, back and wrists; the workout should feel intense and challenging, not painful.

Happy workout.

References:

Aagaard (2014). Circuit training Programs and Posters.

ACSM: High-Intensity Circuit Training Using Bodyweight.

Want a Better and Faster Run? Don’t Run Like You’ve Always Done!

Løbetræning for bedre løbetid

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

Do you run and run without progressing? Then read on for some great tips for smarter running in answer to this typical question: 
“I have now been running for three years 4-5 miles twice every week. But still I do not see any improvement?”
“Do you want to improve or maintain your current form? To maintain a certain level of fitness with one type of program (with little change) is an o.k. goal. If you want to progress, however, you must apply some changes to your program.”

Running is super for cardiovascular fitness, but if your runs are the same every time, your body gets used to it and stops improving because of lack of variety, which stimulates improvement.

If you want to progress, you must change your running and push your body (a bit):

If you have time and energy, add an extra run a week – mostly you need three times a week for greater improvement. Or run a longer run or a more intense run, of same or shorter duration, on one of your running days.

The most time efficient and effective method is to increase intensity, e.g. run faster or run up hills or steps (if available) on your usual route.

You can run with regular intensity changes, systematic interval training, or let your mood or the landscape guide you, so-called fartlek (swedish for ‘speed play’).
You can vary your interval runs with different speeds and interval durations.
After a period with interval running, systematic or fartlek, you will feel the improvement and observe, that your running time gets better.

Systematic interval  run
After the first 10-15 minutes of running you can play with short sprints, high-speed running, for 10-60 sec., followed by easy jogging for twice as long, e.g. 30 sec. : 60 sec.
A sprint and a jog, a ‘work interval’ and a ‘recovery interval’ is a repetition. Repeat this e.g. 8-12 times.

Fartlek
After the first 10-15 minutes of running, race from one lamppost to the next and then jog to the next. Or, whenever you see a hill or some stairs take a quick run up and down, and then jog until the heart rate drops and you feel ready for a new ‘detour’.
Choose different (new) routes for even more variation.

Strength training
Note, that stronger muscles also improve your running markedly. Just a couple of times of fitness strength training per week, e.g. 2 x ½ hour, 6-8 exercises for the major muscles of the hips and legs, lower back and abs and upper body, will increase your strength and energy level. You will feel a difference in your running after just 1½-2 months of strength training.

No Time For Exercise? Microtraining Workout!

SpringtræningJumping is healthy (after basic training)
(Photo: Ski Fitness. Model: Kim Holmes)

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

“No time for exercise” is a   r e a l l y   p o o r   excuse. It is like this, “those who think they have not time for bodily exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness” (Edward Stanley, Earl of Derby, 1826-93). And:
Lack of physical activity will result in a poorer performance physically and mentally.

More often than not; if your (exercise) activity is interesting enough, you will find time!
Also it is possible for untrained as well as trained individuals to obtain a notable training effect even with very short workouts, as long as the program has the right design; a suitable level according to your health and fitness.

If one day you believe, you have no time for exercising, then exercise for 5-10 minutes, it is far better than 0 minutes! You can maintain your current fitness level and your body loves every minute of your workout.

In the military they use 5-15 minute micro workouts on busy days with no time for regular ‘full-sized’ workouts. Even ‘everyday-warriors’ can  ‘microtrain’ and get ‘macro-results’ with cardio and strength training combined in ‘mini’ CrossFit look-alike programs (high-intensity basic training).

Microtraining can be performed in your everyday clothes (though not optimal) and everywhere, indoors and outdoors, and whenever, as it is primarily bodyweight training.
Of course you can also use nature, furniture or equipment for program variation. And you can perform either one, two or three rounds, series, of the exercises.

For maximum results the microtraining should be relatively intense, so often this means sprinting, leaping or jumping, which also functions as agility training.

Note: The higher intensity, the greater the effect, however, at the same time the risk of injury increases; train with concentration og muscular control. Start at a suitable level.

Below are some examples of microtraining workouts for intermediate to advanced exercisers (warm up, and start with a lesser range of motion). The examples show basic training and each micro workout may be changed with other exercises:

1 round (Tabata requires a 5 min. warm-up):
Tabata-routine; 20 sec. sprint, 10 sec. (active) rest-pause, repeat 8 times
12 back extensions
12 ab curls

1 round:
16 jump lunges (feet staggered, jump and change legs, repeat other leg)
16 push-ups
10 reaction drill (from prone (plank>les forward) to supine (sit-up)

2 rounds:
10 tuck jump (jump, pull the knees up)
16 back extensions
16 ab curls

2 rounds:
16 lunges (forward an/or out)
16 squat
10 pull-ups

3 rounds:
10 squat jump
10 dive bombers (circular push-ups forward and backward)
10 pull-ups

3 rounds:
10 Burpees (from prone or plank position, jump forward and up, return)
16 Lunges
12 Push-ups, narrow

Enjoy your workout!

Rope Jumping Fitness: A Guide to Skipping Success

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

Have you rope jumped lately? If not, it’s time to give it a go (again) a.s.a.p.
You will be amazed. It’s fast, it’s fun and for everyone (get FREE Guide below).
Jumping rope is a super cardio exercise modality suitable for exercisers of all fitness levels, from novices to skilled athletes. It requires only you and a jump rope, which is incredibly inexpensive compared to other equipment:

Rope jumping
Jump Rope Fitness improves:

  • Fatburning (fat loss and weight maintenance)
  • Body composition
  • Cardiovascular fitness
  • Stamina (endurance)
  • Coordination (motor skill)
  • Agility (speed work)
  • Mobility

It is simple! Even it looks impressive and challenging, it is easy to learn the basic moves, even if some say it is not (…), and you will reap the benefits immediately.

It is fun! Rope jumping is more than jogging, hopping and jumping, there are lots of variations! And you can do it with family and friends.

It is fast! 10-15 min. of rope jumping burns as many calories as 30 min. of jogging!

It is inexpensive! Jump ropes cost next to nothing compared to other equipment.

It is convenient! All day, inside, outside, at home, the gym; all you need is a little space.

It is compact! Jump ropes can easily be carried around where ever you go (travel).

It is effective! Improves endurance, coordination, agility and body composition.

If you need a little help to get started, or move on, this is for you … with all the information you need and links to rope jumping, rope skipping, demo videos (click on link to download):

ROPE JUMPING FITNESS The Complete Guide To Jump Rope Fitness

Rope skipping fitness

10 Top Tips: Get The Most Out Of Your Training

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

Don’t waste your time! Check these 10 expert tips, based on motivation theory and advanced sports science, and get the most out of your training time.

Få Mest Muligt Ud af Din MotionFå Mest Muligt ud af Træningen      Få Mere Ud af Din Træning og motivation

1. Find your internal motivation, find out what’s fun and meaningful in training: 1) It feels good working up a sweat and feeling the muscles work, 2) you get to know your body, 3) you get more energy, perform better and can do things, you couldn’t do before.
Alternatively for external motivation: Put up a photo on your fridge of training or an athlete, that inspires you or give yourself a reward for reaching one of your training goals.

2. Enjoy your favourite form of training: Try different things; dance, martial arts, fitness, group exercise, individual exercise, ball games, racket sport, water sport. What motivates you the most, gives you the greatest chance of starting, committing and adhering to it.

3. Do cross training, mix different training modalities and activities; mix cardio, strength, coordination and balance, flexibility, indoor and outdoor, in the water or on the ground, with or without equipment, with or without music. The body and mind loves variety. It improves your motor skills and provides all-round fitness.

4. Do strength training, e.g. 3 times a week, 20-30 min. pr. time: It improves your metabolism, increases energy expenditure during workouts and recovery. It reduces the risk of injury and improves everyday and sports performance. And it’s easy!

5. Surprise your body. Your body reacts especially well to unfamiliar training, so dig out forgotten exercises and activities, e.g. hula-hooping or football. Or vary your advanced strength exercises with basic, heavy training.

6. Change your program regularly, every 4-6 weeks, to keep the motivation and stimulate the muscles to respond even better.
The exception: If you still progress and is happy with your program.

7. Organize your training in your calendar or a training log. Set time aside for training, get into a good rhythm. This is the basis for lasting result-oriented training habits and gives an overview of your training pattern; indicates if you undertrain or (rare) overtrain.

8. Set goals, a dream goal is fine, but split it up into realistic smaller goals: Taking small steps ‘Small Increment’ technique is brilliant and doable. See to, that your goal setting is SMART, Specific, Measurable – e.g. from 0-1 mile in 5 weeks – Accepted, Realistic and Timed. And in particular: Test yourself to see how you progress, fitness testing is a very motivating activity.

9. Train with a partner. Training with one or more people, e.g. group exercise, has proved to increase exercise adherence and a partner can support you and help you to increased (heavier weight, higher speed) performance.
If you prefer to work out on your own, then let your heart rate monitor, training log, training app or your workout music be ‘your partner’.

10. Make your diet and lifestyle enhance your training. Drink approx. 2 liters of water every day throughout the day. Eat in moderation and eat healthy, whole-grain, vegetables and healthy proteins and oils (e.g. oily fish).
Get 7-8 hours of quality sleep every night. You get more out of your training and faster.
Also: See to that your training clothes and shoes have a comfortable fit, let you move with easy and are sweat-transporting (and lay it out ready for use).
This makes a difference and enhance your training experience.

TV and Fitness? Turn That TV Off!

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

Is TV healthy or unhealthy? Some research suggests that too much TV viewing is connected with physical inactivity and poor health?
Why is it then, that there are more and more TV’s in health clubs? Is it really necessary with more news or more soap during your one hour of fitness?

Independently of discussions about the poor quality (unhealthy effect) of certain TV-programs, TV and fitness is a really bad cocktail … having in mind, though, that there is a difference between cardio and strength fitness in combination with TV viewing.

Cardio fitness on cardiovascular machines, is a cyclic, repetitive, simple movement on an apparatus, where you do not have to think overly much or concentrate on keeping the balance; you primarily have to exert energy to get your heart rate up. So TV viewing and cardio is probably not directly physically harmful – and may even be a requirement for some in order to get the training done.
Note: TV’s should be in the cardio department and directly in front of the cardio equipment. If the exerciser must turn her/his head to see the screen (for ½+ hour at a time), it could affect the body position, leading to poor posture, misalignment, and overuse injury?
TV’s should be on ‘mute’ (maybe use of earphones) in order not to distract other exercisers. Noise (from many sources simultaneously) increases stress and distracts,
so concentration is lost, training intensity is reduced and safety is compromised.

Fitness strength training and TV viewing is another matter.

Strength training, especially with free weights, requires concentration, balancing with either your bodyweight or (heavy) weights and focusing on technique, proper exercise execution, in order for the exercise to work as intended and not to harm yourself or others.
TV in a strength training gym (room) should not be seen, as TV in this environment may lead to dangerous distractions, which may cause accidents, dropping weights, tripping or twisting, or overuse injuries because of poor alignment and technique.

Another risk factor entirely – but quite noticeable in many gyms with TV’s – is, that the exercisers go off into a trance, stand or sit completely caught up by the TV-programs, wasting time with far too many rest-pauses, which reduces the quality of training for oneself as well as others, as you 1) lose intensity and focus and 2) occupy benches and machines for long periods of time.

Here is a call for fitness centres and users: Find others ways of making fitness motivating and in return get better, more focused, time-efficient and healthy workouts.

Here is another 10 reasons to turn your TV off!  

Running for True Beginners? Run This Way!

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

The sun is out! You want to get into shape? You want to loose weight?
You want to have more energy? You want to be healthier? You want to run!
You can find a multitude of running programs for beginners on the internet, so which one to choose?
Choose this one, if you are a beginner and want 1) to have a motivating program, 2) to follow a goal-oriented program for beginners and 3) to run safely with minimal risk of overuse injuries.

It is time to get started:

Find your motivation
What drives you? Some people are motivated by:

  • running alone, others by running with friends.
  • running to meditate and relax, others by working out and burning fat.
  • running to music, others by silence or nature sounds.
  • running with a heart rate monitor, others by listening to the body.

Find out, what motivates you and plan accordingly.

Choose the right strategy
Avoid the usual running mistakes, which are very common:
Too ambitious and much too much initially; 1) running without a warm-up, 2) running too fast and 3) running too far …
Choose to:

  • Warm up for 5-10 minutes by walking faster and faster, then jog and then run.
  • Run a very moderate distance initially, eg. 5 x 300 ft … increase gradually over time.
  • Cool down by walking for the last 5-10 minutes of your ‘run’.
  • Stretch lightly; hips, thighs, hamstrings, calves, 15-30 sec. to relax and loosen up.

Start smart
A moderate (conservative estimate) tempo initially and a gradual progression is essential for running success. It takes time to get into running shape: Muscles need 1-2 months, the tendons, which attach the muscles to the bones, need 3-6 months, and the bones and joints need 6-12 months to become more resilient to the impact forces of running.
Exactly how long depends on your ‘body age‘ – health, body weight and fitness level – and training age – how long you have been exercising regularly.
Start gradually to avoid overuse injuries in your feet, legs and hips.

Plan your runs
Make a plan, take notes in your calender; how many days do you run, how long/far do you run and how hard do you run? Check your training volume to avoid overtraining … and undertraining.
Beginners benefit from a regular running program to make running a fun and healthy habit.
Tip 1: Have your running shoes and clothes ready, so you are all set to run.
Tip 2: Run with a dog, friend or family member to increase motivation and keep on track.

Løb for begyndere BegynderløbRunning is freedom, fresh air and fun. Photo: Photographer John Nyberg.

Running equipment
Hardly any equipment or gear is required for running. However, the running experience is a lot nicer, if your clothes fit and are ‘dry fit’ (avoid cotton), so they don’t get cold and clammy, which can induce hypothermia (you feel cold).

  • Running shoes, for your feet and running style. They are important: Have your running technique checked on a threadmill by a sports physiotherapist or a running coach, so you get the right shoes for you. You can also do ‘barefoot running’, run in bare feet (or FiveFingers), with extra attention and extra gradual progression.
  • Sweat-transporting running pants, tight fit without (annoying) seams.
  • Sweat-transporting running shirt.
  • Windbreaker jackets (and pants).
  • Sweat-transporting underwear.
  • Sweat transporting socks without seams.

Women:

  • Sports-bra or comfort top (eg. PureLime award-winning sports-bras)
  • Sports panties, which stays in place.

Running technique and tips
Humans are designed for walking and running, so you don’t need special training to run. However, as many people are very inactive during the everyday and start running from scratch, check and focus on this:

  • Breathe deeply; inhale through your nose, exhale through your mouth or nose.
  • Run on softer surfaces initially; grass, sand or soil.
  • Listen to your body; your breath, heart rate and muscles. Running should feel good and a little hard (your body loves to exercise); nothing should hurt or feel painful.
  • Run in a natural way: Start walking and then ’fall’ slightly forward, so you start to run and land with your body weight evenly distributed across the foot, instead of landing hard on the heel. Run with a full natural stride length and cadence, that fits you.
  • Run with a natural arm swing forward backward, not diagonally in front of the torso.
  • Run with a proper running posture; spine neutral and head up, relaxed neck and shoulders. Full body lean from ankle to neck, do not bend at the waist.
  • Run straight forward, avoid bouncing; hopping up and down.

Running program for new runners
This is a running program designed especially for beginning runners:

Realistic and goal-oriented program: The goal is to run 2 miles (or less) in 12 weeks. Far too many beginning running programs include too much running too soon (eg. 0-3 miles in 10 weeks), which often leads to overuse injuries.
Gradual progression: The program progression respects not only the heart and lungs, but also muscles, tendons, bones and joints, preparing them for increased load in time.
Goal-oriented with variation: The program is based on advanced interval training principles and designed  for optimal results, running with fun, with minimal risk of injuries.

Try it out! Here (at the bottom) is a program for running 3 times a week for 12 weeks.

  • Every run warm-up by walking for 5 minutes with a gradual increase in tempo.
  • Then run for some seconds/minutes, then walk for some minutes.
  • Repeat this run-walk sequence a number of times, a number of series.

Is it too easy? Then run a little faster in the same timeframe.
Is it too hard? Then repeat the same program, the next day or the next week.
Your body and your running should feel well.

The program suggests monday, wednesday and saturday, but you may choose other days. However, it is recommended to have a day of rest between running days, so the body is able to recover before running again.

Listen to your body: Do you feel energetic and ready for the runs of next week. If not, continue another week with the same program without increasing time and intensity.

If you experience pain or soreness, find out what is causing it. Maybe have a break from running, do something else, or repeat the same interval run or runs from an earlier week program and proceed with caution.

Note.: Have you been injured or ill? Are you overweight (Running-for-weight-loss)?
Are you very inactive during the everyday? Then you should start even more gradually with a walking program or a variation of this program (make it easier and run/walk the same intervals for more days, eg. same intervals monday, wednesday and saturday, before moving on).

Running for beginners  From 0 to ~ 2 miles in 12 weeks