Fitness isn’t always convenient.
That’s the unfortunate reality that led exercise physiologist Chris Jordan to create the 7-minute workout, the viral routine and app designed to give you the benefits of a trip to the gym in just a few minutes.
The app, officially called the “Johnson & Johnson Official 7 Minute Workout,” is based on a concept called interval training.
The method involves short, intense periods of exercise broken up with brief periods of rest. Studies suggest this kind of exercise may be more beneficial for building muscle and protecting the heart than a regular workout.
“High-intensity interval training can provide similar or greater benefits in less time than traditional longer, moderate-intensity workouts,” Jordan says.
When Jordan is crunched for time, one of the app’s advanced options, like the “sports conditioning” routine, is his go-to. When he has more time to devote to a workout, he does a longer, more comprehensive version of interval training that involves interspersing cardiovascular exercise, like cycling or sprinting, with resistance training, like arm raises or planks.
Jordan drew from interval training to create workout routines for clients when he worked as a fitness consultant for the US Air Force in Europe several years ago. He uses the same strategies to keep himself in shape.
“I typically do interval training and a variety of resistance training, from body weight workouts to Olympic lifts,” he says.
A longer workout for Jordan, then, might involve spending a few minutes doing a strength-training exercise like side planks, followed by a brief, sweaty ride on a stationary bike, and then back to another type of resistance training, such as arm raises with a resistance band. Then he might hop back on the bike, cycle for another few minutes, and finish the day with some leg raises or squats.
Whether you’re doing the 7-minute workout in your living room or a full routine at the gym, Jordan stresses that both longer and shorter workouts can have benefits.
“If you’re short on time, high intensity interval training [like one of the routines in the 7-minute workout] is likely the best option,” he says. On the other hand, “if you have plenty of time and you enjoy [something like] running outside, go for a long, moderate-intensity run.”
The most important thing is to find something you love doing so you can keep doing it.
“Consistency is key,” says Jordan.