In 2013, Chris Jordan, MS, CSCS, NSCA-CPT, ACSM EP-C/APT, an elite exercise physiologist with experience training armed forces who is currently the director of exercise physiology at the Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute, created a simple bodyweight exercise routine that instantly took the fitness world by storm. It was called the “7-Minute Workout,” and the instructional app containing variations of the routine—complete with videos of Jordan himself offering stern instruction and demonstration—swiftly became one of the most-downloaded fitness apps on the market.
The 7-Minute workout preached the benefits of a type of training that was quickly gaining in popularity at the time: high-intensity interval training, or doing short bursts of really intense exercise split up by short periods of rest. Though the mechanics of HIIT were actually nothing new—elite athletes have been doing several versions of it since the 1930s—the routine promised something truly incredible to busy, working Americans everywhere: Yes, you can get fitter faster—in less than 10 minutes!—and you can do so in any basement or hotel room, using only the weight of your body, a wall, and perhaps a chair. Jordan published the compelling findings of his research on the benefits of the 7-Minute Workout in the American College of Sports Medicine’s Health & Fitness Journal, and a phenomenon was born.
For anyone who has tried the 7-Minute Workout and may have found it too difficult to complete, earlier this year Jordan released a newer and “gentler” variation of it: The Standing 7-Minute Workout. The idea behind this new version, as Jordan explained to The New York Times, is to make the 7-Minute Workout more accessible to as many people as possible, including “my triathlete elder brother and my 82-year-old mother.”
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In this version, as the name suggests, he eliminates all of the exercises that may cause strain on the person’s body by having them drop to the floor, including more difficult moves such as planks, pushups, and crunches. “Like the original workout, the standing workout includes exercises for cardio fitness, the lower body, the upper body, and core muscles—in that order,” explains the Times. “Each exercise lasts just 30 seconds with just five seconds of rest in between. To get the most out of the workout, do each exercise at relatively high intensity—about a 7 or 8 on a scale of 1 to 10.”
You can view a video of Jordan explaining and demonstrating the workout here.
If you have doubts that you can burn fat by exercising in such a short amount of time, Jordan has plenty of science to back him up. “When it comes to the immediate health benefits of this sort of high-intensity exercise, it’s all about blood sugar,” Timothy Church, Ph.D., a professor of preventive medicine at Louisiana State University, explained to Men’s Journal. If you’re jumping rope or running sprints, for example, your body instantly gets to processing your blood sugar, which aids in weight loss, and the stress on your muscles leads to greater conditioning. The benefits simply compound from there.
“As with other forms of exercise, when your muscles grow, they pull on your skeletal system, increasing your bone density,” explains Men’s Journal. “A lot of new research also shows that interval training triggers the release of macrophages and killer T cells, boosting the body’s immune function for hours after your last pushup or pullup.”
As your fitness grows, know that you can perform these exercises for longer periods of time than 7 minutes—but we’re not talking about hours. Ten, 15, or 20 minutes is plenty of exercise, as LSU’s Church told Men’s Journal. After all, think of all of the weight lifters who do their sets, and then simply walk around the gym staring at the clock, their heads bobbing to music. “Most people are really doing hard work for only 15 to 20 minutes anyway,” he said.
For more great weight loss advice, make sure you’re aware of The One Workout That Drives 29 Percent More Fat Loss, According to Science.