Don’t have the time to exercise? Then here’s the workout for you! It is a series of 12 resistance and aerobic exercises that can be completed in seven minutes. It’s a tough seven minutes. The exercises are easy to learn, but they will push your body to the limit.


We designed the following workout for “corporate athletes”—busy adults without a lot of free time or access to a health club. The exercises can be done at home or in a hotel room because the only “equipment” that’s required is the weight of your body and a sturdy chair.

This approach, known as high-intensity circuit training, is effective for weight loss as well as metabolic and cardiovascular health. Workouts that are done at high intensity—during which the heart will beat at up to 80% to 90% of its maximum rate—cause changes in the muscles that are comparable to the changes produced by lengthier workouts at moderate intensity.

You don’t need a heart monitor to determine exercise intensity. I recommend the talk test. If you can speak an entire sentence while exercising, you’re not pushing hard enough. If you can’t speak at all, you’re working too hard. You’re in the right zone when you can speak a few words before pausing for breath.

On an exertion scale of one to 10—with one being at rest, and 10 being almost impossible—the workout should be an eight or a nine. This can be a very tough workout. No one should do it without getting a physical and the go-ahead from a doctor.


If you’re not already an athlete, start slowly. While you’re learning and getting in shape, you might take a little longer than seven minutes to complete all 12 of the exercises. Your goal is to get the time down to seven minutes using correct form and technique for each exercise. Do the seven-minute workout every other day.

You may need to go to your local fitness center and get guidance from a certified fitness professional. When you get stronger, you can do the seven-minute workout two or three times in a row if you wish for the ultimate 15-to-20-minute workout.

It’s important to do the exercises in the order listed.

Reason: The workout includes total-body exercises, which are more aerobic in nature, and exercises that give the lower- and upper-body muscles some time to recover. When you’re doing a leg exercise, the muscles in the upper body have a chance to rest. When you’re working the upper body, the legs have the opportunity to rest. These intervals of exertion and rest help make the workout so effective.


Aim to perform 15 to 20 repetitions of each exercise over a period of 30 seconds, but don’t compromise form and technique for repetitions. When you finish one exercise, don’t rest. Immediately start the next one.

Caution: If you have high blood pressure or heart disease, skip the isometric exercises (wall-sit, plank and side plank). These movements involve extended muscle contractions that can impede blood flow. A trainer can suggest safer alternatives.

• Jumping jacks. Start the routine with a classic jumping jack—with your feet shoulder-width apart, arms at your sides, jump slightly and spread your legs while bringing your arms together over your head until your hands almost touch. Jump again as you bring your feet back to the starting position while lowering your hands to your sides. Helpful: If you’re uncomfortable doing jumping jacks, you can run or walk in place.


• Wall-sit. Start out standing with your back against a wall. Bend your knees, and slide down until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Hold the position for 30 seconds.


• Push-up.
Support your body on your hands and toes, your palms about shoulder-width apart. Lower your upper body toward the floor until the elbows form a 90o angle. Then raise your body. If you want, you can start out on your knees and progress to a full push-up as you become stronger.


• Abdominal crunch. Lie on your back, with your knees bent, your feet flat on the floor and your arms extended toward your knees. Using the abdominal muscles, lift your head and shoulders a few inches off the floor. Then lower your head/shoulders back down.


• Step-up.
Leading with your left leg, step onto a sturdy chair. (If you aren’t sure of your strength or balance, you can substitute something that’s lower than a chair, such as a step or a low bench.) Use the strength of your left leg to bring your other foot onto the chair. Then step off the chair, leading with your left leg. Repeat, alternating legs each time.


• Squat. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms at your sides. Bend your knees, and squat until your thighs are parallel to the floor. While lowering your body, extend your arms in front of your body. Keep your knees over your toes. Then rise to the starting position.


• Triceps dip on chair.
Sit on the edge of a sturdy chair (or step or low bench), with the heels of your hands on either side of your butt. Slide off the seat so that your weight is supported on your hands. Your legs will be extended forward. Bend your elbows, and lower your butt toward the floor. When your waist is a few inches lower than the seat of the chair, push up with your arms until your elbows are straight. Keep your shoulders flat, not shrugged.


• Plank.
Lie facedown on the floor while supporting your weight on your toes and forearms. Hold the position, keeping your body straight for 30 seconds.


• High knees/running in place. This exercise combines a running motion with exaggerated knee lifts. While “running,” raise your knees as high as you comfortably can, without compromising your rhythm or balance. Stay on your toes, not your heels.


• Lunge. While keeping your upper body straight, step forward with one leg. Lower your hips until both knees are bent at a 90° angle. Push back with the leading leg until your body returns to the starting position. Then step forward with the other leg and repeat.


• Push-up and rotation.
Assume the normal push-up position. As you come up, rotate your body so that your right arm rises overhead. Return to the starting position, and lower yourself. Do another push-up, this time extending the other arm. Do this for 30 seconds, alternating sides.


• Side plank.
Lie on your side, with one forearm under your shoulder. Your upper leg will be directly on top of the lower leg, with your knees straight. Raise your hips until your body forms a straight line from the ankles to the shoulders. Hold the position for 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side.


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