I'm sure many of you have heard of a recent New York Times Magazine article about a seven-minute workout that claims to "prolong endurance."
From the article: "...it fulfills the latest mandates for high-intensity effort, which essentially combines a long run and a visit to the weight room into about seven minutes of steady discomfort."
You'll need a mat and a sturdy chair for this workout. I had a wall and staircase near me, which I used instead of a chair. The seven minutes consists of 12 moves, each done for 30 seconds with a 10-second break. The break is just long enough to prepare for the next movement. Along with proper form, you should be aiming for 80% intensity/discomfort.
To make things easier, Lifehacker actually made a neat iPhone app for it (here's a web version).
So I tried this workout, six times. In a row (that's about 42 minutes, maybe a touch more). I wanted to do one more, but as I may have mentioned on here, I don't have a lot of time to work out these days, so I couldn't fit in another second. And frankly, I was getting a little bored of repeating 12 moves over and over.
The workout overall is not too strenuous on the joints yet kept my heart rate steadily up and made me sweat. It's definitely challenging, particularly for beginners -- consider how difficult it can be to do "rotating push-ups." By about the third go-around, doing push-ups for 30 seconds was an effort for sure.
I definitely feel like most of my major muscle groups were hit in this workout. The distribution of upper body, lower body, and core was pretty even. There is a little cardio thrown in, as well.
Do I think this will improve my endurance? No... but maybe because I'm an Insanity gal. I was never winded, though it did get difficult in the "holding" moves (wall sit, plank, side plank, etc.) after a while. Also, if I had to guess (because my heart rate monitor is currently out of batteries), I think I may have burned about 300 (most likely fewer) calories doing this workout -- again, pushing to 80% effort. So while this is a good thing to do to target muscles and make yourself more "even," I don't see this as a miracle weight-loss workout or anything. This isn't what it's claiming to be, though.
But seven minutes is definitely accessible to most people, and because you don't really need equipment, it's do-able in most places. You could easily add this to your current routine and feel good that you've trained muscles that you may normally overlook.