Can't fit in a sweat session? Here's how to get ripped from head to toe in less time than it takes to shower.
For years, The fitness world has been engaged in a game of Name That Tune–style one-upmanship, offering dramatic outcomes from ever-shorter, tougher sessions: 45 minutes . . . 30 minutes . . . 20, 12, and finally 4—as the Tabata method espouses. But a new study from the American College of Sports Medicine shows that top results come from spending just a little more time in the gym. Enter the 7-minute workout: a plenty-speedy strength routine involving high-intensity intervals (30 seconds on; 10 seconds or less off), like Tabata. You perform 9 to 12 of the prescribed moves as a circuit for 6 to 8 arduous minutes.
So why invest the extra grueling minutes? "The sequencing—full body, lower body, upper body, core, repeat—is what makes it effective," says creator Chris Jordan, C.S.C.S., of the Human Performance Institute in Orlando, Florida. "It targets every major muscle group and keeps your heart rate up."
As the payoffs make clear, the additional time is well spent. "It builds strength, functional fitness, and muscular endurance," says Michele Olson, Ph.D., an exercise physiologist at Auburn University at Montgomery. The key to maximizing gains is to change the moves. "Do the same workout regularly—no matter the intensity—and your body grows accustomed, diminishing the returns," Jordan says. "Keep the order but tweak the exercises—for example, do a standard push-up on Monday, but a staggered-hand push-up Wednesday."