Aug. 2, 2013 at 1:05 PM ET
I don’t think there is anyone out there who wouldn’t love to find a way to lose weight and stay healthy without spending hours each week at the gym. A new study published by the American College of Sports Medicine shows that by participating in High Intensity Circuit Training (HICT) for just 7 minutes, you may be able to do just that.
High Intensity Circuit Training consists of performing a series of resistance training exercises using large muscle groups alternating with cardiovascular activity, with extremely short rest breaks in between. These exercises are all performed at maximum intensity. The study showed that by practicing HICT you may be able to gain the same aerobic and weight loss benefits as you would if you performed longer endurance training.
This research supports the fairly simple idea that the more you put into a workout, the more you will get out of it. When you work at higher levels of intensity you are going to see more benefits, and most likely you’ll see them more quickly. However, this type of training is not for everyone. Most people will not be able to sustain the level of intensity -- while maintaining proper form—needed within the 7 minutes to see these gains. I also want to caution that individuals who are obese, injured, or extremely unconditioned should not participate in HICT.
If you’re looking to change up your routine or for ways to lose weight, then try circuit training programs, but slowly work up to a point of high intensity.
To Do: Perform 9 to 12 exercises for 30 to 60 seconds, with one-minute breaks in between (or more if needed). Alternate large muscle group exercises for the upper body (push-ups) with large muscle group exercises for the lower body (squats), throwing in rounds of cardio (jumping jacks, marching, jogging in place, or jumping rope). If you’ve never done this kind of training before, start at a slower pace. As you become accustomed to the routine you can shorten your breaks.
Circuit training is a great way to fit in full-body resistance work and cardiovascular exercise in a short period of time. Another benefit? There’s no equipment required! That means no more excuses! As with any type of exercise, I always recommend that you consult a physician before starting something new, and that you work at your own pace and fitness level.
A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.