Once you’ve committed to regular 7-minute workouts, you have to decide how you want to spend that time. Short cardio and HIIT workout videos abound online, and you could throw together a playlist that’ll keep you going for weeks on end. But you could just as easily craft a custom routine that targets a body part you want to give some extra love to. Once you’ve mastered a few foundational favorites, you’ll be able to dream up 7-minute workouts on the fly for any part you want to work. Want to go all in on core work? By combining go-to ab exercises in different ways, you can create an array of 7-minute workouts that meet your needs without feeling repetitive. And the same goes for respite. Could your core use a break? Cut down on crunches, and fill your 7 minutes with leg and arm work, instead.
So let’s say today is the day you want to commit to leg workouts — your legs are the powerful things keeping you grounded and helping you chase kids and animals all over your house, after all! — here’s a solid, quick and easy 7-minute leg workout to let you feel that leg-day burn without losing a whole half hour to exercise. Just be mindful of what your body needs and any pesky knee or back issues that might need to be navigated!
Mix and match these five foundational leg moves based on what your goals are and how you’re feeling today.
Start by standing up, with your feet hip-width apart. Then, bend your knees to send your hips back. Stop once your thighs are parallel to the floor. Hold your squat for 1-10 seconds, then squeeze your glutes to press back up and resume your original standing position. (If you want to make things a bit harder, do 10 baby pulses at the bottom of your squat. Be sure to make these pulses controlled up-and-down motions, rather than haphazard bounces.)
Do 10 squats to complete a set.
Start by lying on your back with your knees bent and your feet pressing into the floor. Stretch your arms out so they’re at your sides, and your hands are pressing into the floor. Then, engage your core and your glutes to lift your butt off the ground and into the air. (You want the line from your lower back to your knees to be completely straight.) Hold this glute bridge for 1-10 seconds, then lower back down to the ground.
Do 10 glute bridges to complete a set.
Start by standing with your feet about hip-width apart. Then, step your left foot out and bend your knee until you’re in a side lunge. (Once there, your right leg should be stretched out, but your right foot should be pressing into the floor as firmly as your left foot. Be sure to keep your upper body engaged so you’re not hunched over, either.) Hold your lunge for 1-5 seconds (or complete a series of baby pulses, like you did in your squat), then press back up into your starting position. Repeat this on your right side to complete one rep.
Do 10 reps (or 10 lunges on each side) to complete a set.
Tabletop Oblique Crunches
Start in a tabletop position. Your hands should be shoulder-width apart, and your knees should be hip-width apart. Then, rotate your right hip to lift your right leg off the ground until your knee is in line with your back. (Your leg should remain bent throughout this movement, which is called a “fire hydrant.”) Then, bring your right knee in toward your right elbow to complete an oblique crunch. Bring your right leg back to your starting position—going through your fire hydrant on the way—and repeat this exercise with your left leg to complete one rep.
Do 10 reps (or 10 tabletop oblique crunches on each side) to complete a set.
Start by standing with your feet about hip-width apart. Bring one knee in toward your chest, and then plant it back on the ground. Repeat this with your other knee. Keep alternating knees, and pick up the pace to work a little cardio into your routine.
Spend 30-60 seconds doing high knees to complete a set.
A version of this story was published July 2021.
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