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. That already struck me as short. Or it just seems 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. No other than the New York Times heralded it 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 coming to an infomercial near you.
Circuits + HIIT = 7-Minute Workout
The 7-minute workout idea started with an article in ACSM’s Health and Fitness Journal. It discussed that body weight exercises like push-ups and squats in a HIIT circuit style are the most time-effective way to get fit. The writers suppose that choosing opposing muscle groups exercises one part of the body while the other recovers and that short breaks keep the intensity up.
Read the article over at ACSM’s site; the reasoning seems to make sense. Especially because the authors back it all up with papers that find circuit training and HIIT effective.
What They Suppose…
But what the NYT writer and others missed is that they looked at separate research on both training styles. Misters Klika and Jordan only supposed that combining circuits and HIIT give you the same benefits. It’s as if I would claim that salad and milk are healthy and putting them in a blender will save you time.
If they 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
I doubt they’d be able to prove their tall claims (“maximum results with minimal investments”). It’s true that even a couple of minutes exercising can help get you fitter, but combining body weight exercises with cardiovascular training has two important limitations.
First of all, body weight exercises take you quite a bit, but at some point 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.
Second, you should keep cardio and strength training on different days if you want to get good at both.
Grain Of Salt Etc.
Feel free to try the seven minute workout, just don’t expect wonders. According the ACSM’s article, Klika and Jordan work for the “Human Performance Institute,” whose business is helping “executives and employees expand and manage their energy for increased performance.”
I reckon it’s 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!”