The Scientific 7 Minute Workout and Shortcuts

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I don’t mind shortcuts.

If there is a more efficient way of completing a task or achieving a goal, I am all for it.

But shortcuts aren’t meant for everyone.  Some of us are always looking for shortcuts, the path of least resistance.  We abuse the shortcuts, and when the shortcuts become too challenging, they look for a shortcut to the shortcut.  Some people are always looking for shortcuts, a way out from doing the work.

When building fitness, I think that shortcuts are not appropriate for everyone.  People avoid physical exertion like the plague as it is, and now science is telling us that we can comfortably fulfill our daily activity needs in a matter of… wait for it…


I respect science, but I cringe at how information like this is received by the public.  Now every personal trainer in America is going to be put on trial by their clients for holding 60 minute training sessions when The New York Times says that an effective workout can be achieved in 7 minutes flat.

With fitness, you get what you put in.  If you put forth an exceptional effort, you’ll get an exceptional reward.

If you put forth a crap effort, you’ll get a crap reward.  No secrets here.

In my experience, it’s tough to get a complete warm-up in 7 minutes time, especially when you are working to fix mobility and stability issues, let alone make a 7 minute workout change your body.

Is 7 minutes better than 0 minutes?  Of course it is.  If reading that New York Times article is the spark that you need to get you off the couch and moving, then god bless it.  Run with that motivation.  I can support that.

I have to assume that the article is only referring to building fitness, which is different than body transformation or fat loss.  Fitness does go hand in hand with accelerating body transformation, but 7 minutes won’t hold up against even an average nutritional effort.  If nutrition was perfect, you could make some decent gains (or should I say losses) with body transformation.

The main takeaway from the article (and the original research) was that short burst high intensity interval training can produce comparable health benefits to prolonged endurance training, if not better.

I know I have said this on this blog before, but I will continue to say it… what’s happening in innovative gyms across the country (and the world) at this very moment won’t be researched  for 2-3 years at least.  We have been executing -with great success- strength based workouts like the one below for years, and now the research comes.

In case you were wondering what the 7 minute workout entails, here is a snapshot from the New York Times site:


With the exception of the abdominal crunches, I actually like all of the exercises listed in the workout.  It represents a minimalist total body (bodyweight) workout.  Not a bad little program.     The movements are require bodyweight strength based movements organized with minimal rest between movements.  Cardio strength.  I know you’ve heard that before.

Taxing your muscles to a high degree with minimal rest is an extremely effective way to accomplish performance improvement, body fat reduction and lean muscle gain in one shot.

Now that I think about it, this fitness news reminds me a lot of the Tabata intervals over-reaction that the fitness industry went through some years ago, but most of us have poured water on that fire.  Be careful not to mis-interpret the information and transform it into something that it was never intended to be.

And for someone who lacks the workout know-how, the diagram that was provided is perfect for that person.  My beef with still frame exercise tutorials has always been that it leaves A LOT unexplained.  You see the start of the movement, a mid-point and an end, but what does the entire movement look like?  What’s going on with the body in between those still shots?

In my early days of learning functional training, I used the still shot pictures of movements out of Mark Verstegen’s book (Core Performance), yet I never felt completely confident with what I was doing.  It was hard to know if what I was doing was an exact replication of what Mark wanted us to be doing.

Watching a video is better than still frame, and working with a knowledgeable professional is better than a video.  Hands on coaching from a good personal trainer is priceless, assuming they know what they are talking about.  If you are going to spend any money on a personal training, use it to learn the movements and get your technique down if nothing else.  Knowing how to execute basics movements like:  squats, lunges, chin ups, planks, push ups, cable movements, etc is well worth the money.  Learn how to execute big movements like deadlifts, front squats, split squats, bench press, rows, etc.

That’s an investment in your body for years to come.

Wrapping it up, give the 7 minute workout a shot, but don’t be afraid of physical exertion and increasing your body’s ability to handle that exertion.  Don’t shy away from training longer than 7 minutes, because that is just a recommendation.  Take your training to another level and see how it goes, learn something about yourself.

There is great long-term reward in pursuing physical endeavors throughout life.



Cheers to doing more than 7 minutes of exercise…





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