You only need these 7 exercises and a 7-minute EMOM workout to torch muscles and build strength

Woman in a plank position on yoga mat holding two dumbbells with her right arm outstretched overhead in a twist
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Did you know you only need seven minutes to boost your fitness and strengthen muscles? Of course, a one-off workout won’t transform your mind or body, but if done regularly, you could certainly witness brilliant results.

According to the WHO guidelines, we should all be clocking up at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise per week. That could be anything from a long walk to HIIT, circuit training or strength programs, done several times a week and however you choose.

At Tom’s Guide, we designed this seven-minute seven-move EMOM workout to target major muscle groups, including your core and upper and lower body, raise your heart rate and boost fitness. Here’s how to do it using a set of the best adjustable dumbbells and why it works.  

Do 7-minute workouts work? 

If done well, micro workouts can save you time and fit into any busy schedule without compromising the quality of exercise. It’s also beneficial for beginners who need to ease into a new exercise routine. That said, if you’re returning from injury or unsure how to do any exercises below, check in with a physician or personal trainer to guide you. 

For some people, short exercise bouts just won’t feel like enough. But research like this 2016 study indicates that anyone, especially older adults, could benefit from workouts lasting under 10 minutes. Regular micro workouts could have an accumulative effect, boost your metabolic health and help you improve fitness levels without spending hours in the gym.

Tom’s Guide’s 7-move 7-minute EMOM workout 

Let’s get down to business. If you’ve been scrolling through this article attempting to figure out what an EMOM even means, it stands for Every Minute On the Minute (we love an acronym in fitness). 

There are two ways to do it: you can perform a set number of reps (I recommend between 10-20 reps) and rest for the remainder of the minute or choose to hit as many reps as possible until 45-50 seconds and rest for 10-15 seconds. Either way, you’ll start a new exercise every minute, totaling seven minutes. You could also repeat for several rounds. 

1. Dumbbell thrusters

Vector of man doing dumbbell thrusters in two stages against white background

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The full-body move targets most muscle groups and skyrockets the heart rate.

How:

  • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, dumbbells racked onto your shoulders and elbows lifted and locked in close to the body.
  • Perform a squat, keeping your chest proud and back flat.
  • Drive through your heels to stand. As you stand up, press both dumbbells overhead into an overhead press, locking your arms out at the top.
  • Lower the dumbbells to your shoulders with control as you squat back down. 

2. Bear squats

an illo of a woman doing a bear squat

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Recently, I did 70 bear squats every day for a week (where you can learn step-by-step how to do it), and it was killer, which inspired me to add the quad-dominant exercise to this EMOM. From a tabletop position, ensure both knees remain an inch off the floor and maintain a flat back. 

3. Burpees

Image of person performing a gorilla burpee by jumping feet forward and jumping into the air

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It’s a well-hated staple but still hits all the right muscle groups. Here’s how to do a burpee properly, with tips for technique and energy efficiency to help you hit more reps 

4. Dumbbell snatches

Vector of woman performing a dumbbell snatch in three stages against white background

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If you’re a total beginner to the snatch, fear not, we break it down with our how to snatch guide here. You can do them alternating or with light weights, to begin with. The move demands explosive power from your trunk and lower and upper body.  

5. Diamond push-ups

an illo of a man doing a diamond push up

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This is one of the best push-up variations to torch your triceps. Keep your elbows close to your ribs and engage your core throughout. A common mistake I see from people is dropping the hips, which dips into the lower back. Think about moving your body as one unit — learn more about diamond push-ups here.  

6. Plank toe taps

an illo of a woman doing plank toe taps

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Our fitness editor did 90 plank toe taps a day for a week recently (where you can learn how to do them too). Yep, that’s 630 painstaking reps. The move even made it into our best plank variations round-up, where you can find an alternative plank if this one doesn’t hit the spot.  If you choose to tackle reps, aim for 10 per side minimum.

7. Walking dumbbell lunges

an illo of a man doing a walking lunge

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It’s easier than you think to hurt your knees during walking lunges. Avoid banging your knee against the floor, and keep your toes facing forward in the direction of travel. Learn how to do a lunge properly here, and when you feel more confident, hold a dumbbell in each hand while you walk.  

Verdict

I did this workout during a recent weekend vacation to fit something in while I was away. I promise you can torch your muscles and work up a sweat in just seven minutes if you program at the right intensity — this is a testament to it. I chose to work for 50 seconds and rest for 10, averaging the same number of reps throughout.

I started with a brief warm-up, then headed into the seven minutes using a medium pair of dumbbells. You could easily switch the dumbbells out for alternatives — I recommend kettlebells to clients as it can be trickier to master and challenge the body’s balance and stability. 

During the thrusters, rack the dumbbells onto your shoulders and keep your elbows close to the body. It’s common for people to half squat, so make sure you drop down until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Trust me — you’ll need a lie down after this one.

Can you lose weight by working out 7 minutes a day? 

We recommend adding more activity to your day generally, increasing your daily NEAT activity (like taking walks or choosing the stairs over an elevator, for example) to avoid becoming sedentary while increasing your daily step count. Ideally, a micro-workout should be high intensity for you to benefit, which means working at a near-maximal to maximal capacity with very little rest.

It’s worth remembering that weight loss is complex. Consider how much you move during the day, nutrition, sleep, recovery and your hormones (to name a few factors), and we recommend learning how to calculate your body fat percentage if you’re new to the whole concept. 

We also recommend factoring in resistance training throughout the week (even one session is beneficial) to keep bones, muscles and joints strong and injury-free. That aside, of course, you can benefit from doing several short workouts during the week! Moreover, short EMOM or AMRAP-style workouts can help you monitor your progress as you get fitter by adding more reps, rounds or weight.

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Sam Hopes
Senior Staff Writer - Fitness

Sam Hopes is a level III fitness trainer, level II reiki practitioner, and senior fitness writer at Future PLC, the publisher of Tom's Guide. She is also about to undertake her Yoga For Athletes training course. Having trained to work with mind and body, Sam is a big advocate of using mindfulness techniques in sport and fitness, and their impact on performance. She’s also passionate about the fundamentals of training and building sustainable training methods.  When she's not writing up her experiences with the latest fitness tech and workouts, you’ll find her writing about nutrition, sleep, recovery, and wellness.