The supposedly “scientifically proven” 7-minute workout is making the rounds. Let’s examine what it can really do for you and why the claims have no science to back them up.
15 Minutes? No, 7!
A while ago Tat wrote an article on ec.com about the 15-minute workout, which already struck me as quite short. Or it just seems that way to me, who spends about 45 minutes on each of his workout sessions.
Now you supposedly have to work out even less: please welcome the 7-minute workout, that no other than the New York Times heralded as “scientific.” Which always gives things such a nice reputable ring, doesn’t it? You can bet that if the New York Times takes it this seriously, you’ll soon find 7-minute workout DVDs offered in infomercials coming near you.
Circuits + HIIT = 7-Minute Workout
But what is it? It all starts with an article in ACSM’s Health and Fitness Journal. In it, two writers published their idea that doing body weight exercises such as push-ups and squats in a HIIT circuit style with less than 30 seconds rest between them is the most time-effective way to get fit. The short breaks supposedly keep the intensity up, while through choosing opposing muscle groups you exercise one part of the body and have the other recover.
If you read their article over at ACSM’s site, then Klika and Jordan’s reasoning seems entirely plausible. Especially because they back it all up with links to papers that find circuit training and HIIT effective.
What They Suppose…
But what the NYT writer and a lot of others completely missed is that they looked at the separate research done on both styles of training and then simply supposed that combining circuits and HIIT into a seven minute workout will give you the same benefits. It’s as if I would claim that salad and milk each are healthy and putting them into a blender will save you time.
If Jordan and Klika want to prove their 7-minute workout as effective, they have to conduct research of their own. The papers they reference have zero to do with their idea.
…And What I Suppose
On the other hand, I doubt that it will be able live up to their tall claims (“maximum results with minimal investments”) anyway. It is true that every small bit of exercise helps get you fitter, but doing just body weight exercises and combining cardiovascular and strength training has some limitations.
First of all because body weight exercises can take you quite a bit, but at some point these just won’t offer enough resistance for your muscles to keep growing. If I could make my chest bigger by just doing push-ups for seven minutes, I wouldn’t be worrying myself with dumbbells each weighing more than 60 lbs, trust me.
And secondly, there also is a reason why you should keep cardio and strength training on different days if you want to get comparatively good at both.
Grain Of Salt Etc.
Of course, feel free to try the seven minute workout, just don’t expect wonders. According the ACSM’s article, Mr. Klika and Mr. Jordan work for the “Human Performance Institute,” whose business is to help “executives and employees expand and manage their energy for increased performance.”
I reckon it is far from them to tell that kind of clientele that getting excellent fitness takes a wee bit more time than “for a win-win situation, I need the synergistic results stat!”