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Does the 7 Minute Workout work?

Erin Brodwin tried the science-backed 7-minute fitness routine that’s going viral, and she finds that it actually works

PUBLISHED : Friday, 21 April, 2017, 3:04pm
UPDATED : Friday, 21 April, 2017, 3:03pm

By Erin Brodwin

When I first heard about the official 7-Minute Workout, an app that promises to grant you the benefits of a sweaty bike ride and a trip to the gym in just a few minutes, I thought it was all hype.

But as it turns out, the app actually, well, works you out.

I tried it for the first time last year and I’m still hooked, so I recently got in touch with Chris Jordan, the director of exercise physiology at the Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute and the person behind the app, to get some insight into how it works.

For me, the app is perfect on the weekends, when I can’t make it to a yoga class, or as something fun to do with a friend at home.

First things first: The entire workout really takes just seven minutes. Initially, I was sceptical I could accomplish this much in such a narrow time frame.

It consists of 72 different exercises like jumping jacks, sit-ups, and push-ups. Ten of them require nothing but your own body (you’ll need a chair that can support your weight for the others). The latest version of the app lets you do each exercise along with Jordan.

To do my workout, all I used was a yoga mat, the hardwood floor of my office, a wall, and a stool.

The first four exercises I did — 30 seconds each of jumping jacks, a wall sit, push-ups, and crunches, with ten seconds of rest in between — were easy. I started to think the workout was all hype.

But by the time I got to planks, I was starting to feel a bit winded. At this point, I’d also finished the step-ups onto a chair, the squats, and the triceps dips. Still four more exercises to go.

Next, it was on to running in place with my knees as high as I could get them, lunging, doing alternating push-ups and rotations (raising one arm high into the air while balancing on the other), and side planks, where you align your body sideways and balance on one hand and the side of one foot.

Full set of 12 exercises complete!

In the end, the workout was actually, well, a workout. Still, I wasn’t totally wiped and I felt as if I could do a bit more. So I did a second set.

The idea of a workout you can do in minutes was originally envisioned by personal trainer Brett Klika and Jordan, the exercise physiologist. Here’s Klika demonstrating one of his workouts.

Sources: American College of Sports Medicine’s (ACSM’s) Health & Fitness Journal, YouTube

The concept behind the workout is interval training — short, intense periods of exercise broken up by brief periods of rest. Jordan told me he based the workout on his my past experience as a fitness consultant for the US Air Force in Europe.

Sources: International Journal of Cardiology 2013, ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal 2013, Sports Medicine 2002

The approach is less time-consuming than a traditional workout, but studies suggest it may actually be more beneficial for building muscle and protecting the heart. “High intensity interval training can provide similar or greater benefits in less time than traditional longer, moderate-intensity workouts,” says Jordan.

Sources: International Journal of Cardiology 2013, ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal 2013, Sports Medicine 2002

I’m satisfied overall with the 7 Minute Workout, and I’ve been doing it every so often ever since I first tried it out as an addition to my regular yoga routine. But don’t take my word for it — try it.

Does the 7 Minute Workout work?