Posted by Chris Jordan, MS, CSCS, NSCA-CPT, ACSM HFI/APT , Monday 10/03/2014
Does the 7 Minute Workout Really Work? | Official 7 Minute Workout

182265483Well, that’s a great question! The simple answer is “yes.” Some exercise is better than no exercise and it’s important to exercise (even if it’s a small amount) on a consistent and regular basis. Doing the 7-Minute Workout may be the difference between doing something or nothing at all. For others, a 7-minute workout may be a safe and appropriate starting point.

However, to help you maximize the health and fitness benefits, we recommend you ideally progress to three circuits for an approximate 20-minute, non-stop, high-intensity workout, and on no more than three non-consecutive days each week.

To understand why the 7-Minute Workout can be so effective you can look at the peer reviewed scientific research on which it was based right here.

Where the idea came from

I designed this workout based upon the research on high-intensity interval training and circuit training. High-intensity interval training involves short bursts of hard exercise (e.g. sprinting) with short recoveries (e.g. walking) and can produce improved aerobic fitness in less time. One study published by researcher Izumi Tabata and colleagues found a 4-minute high-intensity interval workout to be similarly effective as a 60-minute moderate-intensity workout ( ). Circuit training involves performing a variety of resistance exercises in sequence with limited rest and has been shown to improve muscular fitness.

I combined these two types of workouts to create a high-intensity circuit training workout, also known as the 7-Minute Workout.

Here are five key components that help make the 7-Minute Workout work:

1) Aerobic and resistance exercises

The 7-Minute Workout includes both aerobic and resistance exercises, which is important for a healthy, balanced exercise program. Jumping jacks, running in place, step-ups, etc. are great for elevating your heart rate, and the push-ups, squats, abdominals crunches, etc. specifically target the muscles in this combined workout.


2) High intensity (less time)

The workout is designed so it can be performed at high intensity. That simply means exercising as hard as you safely can for each exercise. The pay-off is that you can get similar fitness results in less time than a traditional, moderate-intensity. As exercise intensity increases, exercise duration can decrease. It’s just about as simple as that.


3) Exercise order

To help you work out as hard as you safely can, the exercises are deliberately organized into a specific order. The “total body” or “aerobic” exercise is first, which elevates the heart rate, followed by resistance exercises for your “lower body” (e.g. squat), then “upper body” (e.g. push-up), then finally your “core” (e.g. abdominal crunch). And repeat. So the pattern is: total body, lower body, upper body, and core. Alternating between opposite muscle groups in this way allows one muscle group to somewhat recover, while another is being worked hard.


4) Minimal rest

The exercise order also allows you to move from one exercise to another with minimal or no rest, which helps keeps the intensity high and the exercise duration short.


5) Body weight only (no equipment)

Finally, since this workout truly requires no equipment (other than a chair and a wall), it can be done almost anywhere, anytime. There are 36 different body weight exercises on the app for almost all fitness levels. Workouts for those just starting (or re-starting) a resistance training regimen to an advanced workout for those that don’t think body weight is sufficient enough to get the workout they want. Find the proper body weight exercise that challenges you and perform it at a high intensity and with proper technique and you’re likely to have a different opinion on a need for machines or free weights.


You can download the free app here. Try one of the 12 other workouts available on the app or design your own using the library of 36 different exercise to help you make the most of your limited workout time. Or you can simply let the Smart Workout feature design an appropriate workout – just like having your own personal trainer.


-  Chris Jordan

Director of Exercise Physiology
As the Director of Exercise Physiology at the Human Performance Institute Division of Wellness & Prevention, Inc., a Johnson & Johnson company, Chris designed a practical body weight circuit workout that became known as the “7 Minute Workout”. He and Brett Klika co-authored the peer-reviewed article “High-Intensity Circuit Training Using… Read More