Don’t have an hour or even twenty 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 7 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.
“There’s very good evidence” that high-intensity interval training provides “many of the fitness benefits of prolonged endurance training but in much less time,” says Chris Jordan, the director of exercise physiology at the Human Performance Institute in Orlando, Fla., and co-author of the new article.
Work by scientists at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, and other institutions shows, for instance, that even a few minutes of training at an intensity approaching your maximum capacity produces molecular changes within muscles comparable to those of several hours of running or bike riding.
Interval training, though, requires intervals; the extremely intense activity must be intermingled with brief periods of recovery. In the program outlined by Mr. Jordan and his colleagues, this recovery is provided in part by a 10-second rest between exercises. But even more, he says, it’s accomplished by alternating an exercise that emphasizes the large muscles in the upper body with those in the lower body. During the intermezzo, the unexercised muscles have a moment to, metaphorically, catch their breath, which makes the order of the exercises important.
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.
As you can see from the chart at the top of this post, 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.