Can You Get a Total-Body Workout in 7 Minutes?

This expert Q&A sheds light on the fitness craze.

Reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD on May 18, 2015
From the WebMD Archives

You've probably heard of the 7-minute workout, a full-body routine you can do just about anytime, anywhere. All you need is a chair, a wall, and your own body weight.

The workout is a form of high-intensity interval training. It combines resistance training with aerobic exercise. You do 30-second intervals of challenging exercises (like jumping jacks, planks, and tricep dips) in rapid succession. This pushes your body really hard for the most results in the least time.

Chris Jordan, CPT, the director of exercise physiology at Johnson & Johnson's Human Performance Institute, and the designer of the workout, explains how to get the most out of it.

Does 7 minutes really do any good?

Yes, Jordan says, especially if you're not very active now. "Imagine sitting down for 7 minutes versus 7 minutes of exercise. There's no question the exercise is beneficial."

But you'll get better results if you repeat the 7-minute circuit. Start with one circuit. Then, as you start to improve, ratchet it up to two to three circuits per workout.

How often should you do the workout?

Aim for two to three circuits, 3 days per week, Jordan says. That gets you close to the recommended guidelines of 75 minutes of vigorous activity each week.

Is it better to do one circuit every day or more circuits on fewer days?

"It's best to do three circuits in one go on 3 nonconsecutive days per week," Jordan says. But if it works better for you to do shorter workouts more frequently, that's OK, he says.

Does the workout hit every body part?

"Absolutely," he says. "That was a big part of the design." Jordan says the routine gets at all the important stuff: It's a cardiovascular workout and it works your upper body, lower body, and core.

Will the workout help you lose weight?

Yes, but only along with a healthy diet. The key is that it uses high-intensity interval training and resistance training, which are great for burning fat instead of muscle, Jordan explains.

Get a Move On

Ramp up your 7-minute-workout results with these tips from Jordan.

Make every minute count. Give each exercise your best effort. The workout never hits two muscle groups in a row, so go all out during each 30-second interval. A break is just around the corner.

Do it regularly. If you want results, do the workout consistently. Time-crunched? Squeeze in one circuit before breakfast, one before dinner, and another before bed. Don't have clean workout clothes? Wear whatever you've got on.

Crank up the tunes. Music is a great motivator, Jordan says. Choose something super-energizing, with a high number of beats per minute. It may ramp up your intensity level.

Partner up. Recruit a friend or relative to work out with you. They can be your motivator.

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Show Sources


Chris Jordan, MS, MS, CSCS, NSCA-CPT, ACSM HFS/APT, Human Performance Institute.

Klika, B ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal, May/June 2013.

CDC: “Physical Activity.”

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