Express workouts may be the busy person’s key to staying in shape.
Borne out of a combination of necessity—everyone is busy—and a desire to improve effectiveness—research shows it works—short, intense workouts seem all the rage these days. Tabata, high-intensity interval training (HIIT), high-intensity circuit training (HICT), or whatever you want to call it, fitness enthusiasts are clamoring to participate in this next phase in fitness.
The latest entry into the pool of shorter, harder, faster workout programs comes in the form of a 7-minute bodyweight-only workout from the Human Performance Institute in Orlando, Florida.
The 12-exercise circuit aims to help time-strapped individuals get in a quickie workout while upping the body’s potential to burn fat and calories for up to 72 hours post-workout. According to the program’s designer, Chris Jordan, MS, CSCS, director of exercise physiology for the institute, these claims aren’t just hooey—they’re supported by research. Jordan adds that he had a specific type of person in mind when devising the circuit.
“I designed this HICT workout for time-constrained business executives—or “corporate athletes” as we call them here at the Human Performance Institute,” he explains. “This workout is designed so that it can be performed in a hotel room with nothing more than a floor, a wall, and a chair, and incorporates both aerobic and resistance exercises.”
The workout includes both strength and cardio elements, and targets every major muscle group. Jordan notes that exercise order is also important. Maintaining that order allows one muscle group to recover while the other is being exercised. This keeps the intensity high and the workout short, he says.
To add greater intensity—if time and physical capacity permit—Jordan suggests running through the circuit two or three times.
San Diego-based personal trainer Pete McCall, MS, CSCS, agrees that HICT can be a highly effective form of exercise.
“The benefits of HIIT and HICT are that they can increase oxygen expenditure during an exercise session, and with the body expending 5 calories to utilize a liter of oxygen, that is a time-efficient training method for both weight loss and improving aerobic capacity,” he says. “Circuit training at the appropriate moderate intensity would be effective for individuals new to exercise, however high-intensity intervals should only be performed after the body has become more neurologically and metabolically efficient.”
Jordan warns that this workout might not be the end-all be-all for everyone. “Although HICT can be an efficient means by which to improve health and decrease body fat, it may be inferior to creating absolute strength and power, specific endurance, and other performance variables.”To read more about the workout and the research it is based on, see the article “High-Intensity Circuit Training Using Body Weight: Maximum Results With Minimal Investment” in the May/June issue of ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal (2013; 17, 8-13).
PHOTOGRAPHY: Len Spoden