This Seven-Minute, Research-Based Workout Exercises Your Whole Body

This Seven-Minute, Research-Based Workout Exercises Your Whole Body

Don’t have an hour or even 20 minutes to exercise each day? You might not need it. This routine of 12 exercises is a complete workout based on the latest fitness research — and it only takes seven minutes.

As with other short but highly efficient exercises, this routine is based on interval training, where you’re combining intense activity with brief recovery periods. We’ve seen interval training touted before as the most efficient type of exercise. You could do it with cycling, but this workout is an alternative guide, and you can do it basically anywhere with almost no equipment.

The routine was posted in the May-June issue of the American College of Sports Medicine’s Health & Fitness Journal and highlighted by the New York Times. In this program:

The exercises should be performed in rapid succession, allowing 30 seconds for each [with a 10-second rest between exercises], while, throughout, the intensity hovers at about an 8 on a discomfort scale of 1 to 10, [director of exercise physiology at the Human Performance Institute] Mr. Jordan says. Those seven minutes should be, in a word, unpleasant. The upside is, after seven minutes, you’re done.

Here’s the full illustration of the seven-minute workout:


As you can see, all you need is your own body weight and a chair to get “maximum results with minimal investment”. However, this was designed for people with pretty sedentary lives, so if you’re starting out somewhat in shape, you should probably do this a few times in a row. Hit the link to read more.

The Scientific 7-Minute Workout [New York Times]


  • Reminds me very much of the Royal Canadian Air Force 5BX program, the I remember my dad doing may years ago. That program had 5 basic exercises (hence the name), but at increasing level of difficulty both in target repetitions per minute and in the type of the exercises.

    If anyone wants to read more – There’s also a link at the bottom for the full program in PDF.

  • Anyone who claims they don’t have 20 minutes a day is lying to themselves, and hell – it doesn’t even need to be dedicated time, I count briskly walking to and from work in mine, which automatically gets me 20 minutes a day, making my short workout in the evening just a bonus really.

    Take the stairs instead of the elevator.. etc etc.. It’s simple lifestyle changes that are effective long term, very few people are able to continually sustain a rigorous workout regime over many years.

    • No kidding. The number of lazy slobs I see queuing for the elevator at Wynyard station every morning instead of using the escalators or stairs is ridiculous. And when they all pile in to the elevator when it arrives and a poor girl in a wheelchair can’t fit in any more and they all just stand there in the elevator looking awkward instead of, I don’t know, getting the fuck out to make room for her? One day I’m going to physically grab them and throw them out of the damn thing.

      Don’t use lifts, walk on the escalators instead of just standing there, walk or ride a bike to the station or to work, none of it is hard and all of it makes a difference.

    • That’s 20 minutes of high intensity exercise, not a ‘brisk’ walk. That said, walking around and taking the stairs is highly beneficial too.

      • Yeah as I say, that’s just my effortless changes that still allow me to meet a basic fitness level without any dedicated time, even if I were to decide to go out that night rather than go home, i’m still on fairly decent standing health wise.

    • It depends. Travelling for 3 hours a day, having to cook dinner and clean a house and water a garden etc leaves me with very little spare time. And in that time I want to be winding down and relaxing.
      Having said that I do manage to find time to squeeze in a bit of a workout.
      Really wish I had the time l used to when I worked nights and lived at home. Get up, have breakfast, go to gym for 2 hours, come home, shower, go to work. It worked so well!
      Lost 30kgs in 6 months that way.
      Packed half of it back on when I went to day shifts and then owning my own home.
      Trying to lose it again is not easy.

      • That’s an interesting case study. The stats are skewed extremely highly in the direction of night shift workers putting on more weight and faster than day shift workers. Could it have been more likely the living at home factor, or perhaps the actual job itself?
        The anecdote sounds more like you find it harder to get around to putting fitness on the priority list nowadays with the extra responsibilities? No judgement here mind, unlike general Lifehacker, everyone who uses an elevator that’s not wheelchair bound is a lazy slob? Christ. This narcissism as fitness fad is asinine.

        Cool article though, 7 minutes may be just as easy to find as 20 minutes for anyone really looking, but it’s also even more approachable for those who might be avoiding it for other reasons.

        • Usually that’s the case and I can understand why.
          The temptation of snack food vending machines is huge when there is nothing else around. Especially when you are working in an IT call centre which can be a terrible job.
          But I think it comes down to what times you work.
          I was working around the hours of 4pm – 12am.
          So I would be home by 1am. Get a good nights sleep and then be up at around 9. Which gave me plenty of time to get myself ready and off to the gym. You basically keep “regular” hours but it’s just when you do things that gets moved around. And since I have always found it easier to go to the gym before work rather then after it definitely meant working later made it easier for me.
          The still living at home part helped a lot though. You don’t have to worry about doing a bunch of things yourself e.g. cooking and cleaning, which saves you a lot of time.
          So yeah some of it comes down to priorities but I don’t think that really covers the problem well. I think it cheapens the amount of other things people have to do. It’s not like I can simply swap priorities and everything works magically. Things like cooking and cleaning just don’t do themselves. It is more, as you say, about extra responsibilities. There is just things that I need to do now that I didn’t have to before. And these take up my time.
          Totally with you on the narcissism bit though. The amount of people that comment on posts related to fitness or health that are simply trying to make themselves feel better by belittling others is ridiculous. I would rather be an open-minded larger person then a bigoted fitness junkie any day.

  • Are the dips necessary seeing as they have pushups in there? Surely the point is only the triceps?

    Or perhaps doing pushups again with elbows in could replace the dips…?

    • Pushups are more to exercise the pectorals and back (and arms) whereas the dips target the triceps specifically.

  • I’ve been doing the “Run for a Reason” fun-run free training with HBF which pretty much concentrates on these (except for the bits involving a chair – seeing we are in the park) + lots of running. The excercises are our “recovery” in between running sessions.

  • Interestingly this is very similar to the Spark Challenge (Now Arnold’s 1% or something) on fitocracy. They did it in conjunction with Arnie hence the name.
    So good too see there is science there to back it up.

  • Presumably the point of interval training is that it shouldn’t matter how fit you are: if you’re out of shape, you’ll perform less reps in the alloted time. The fitter you are, the more reps you can fit in to the seven minutes.

  • 7 minutes?
    (30 sec activity +10 sec rest) * 12 activities = 480 seconds = 8 minutes
    Now where the hell am I going to find the extra minute!

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