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Ask HN: Is anyone successful with the 7-minute workout so far?
56 points by 3rd3 on Feb 16, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 59 comments
I’m refering to this article:


Here are the HN comments:


Yes. I've been doing daily exercise for about 8 months, mostly daily 7-min workouts, and I feel nearly as fit as when I saw a trainer for 2 hours/week. Also, this form of exercise has turned into a habit I can't weasel out of.

The rule is: no shower unless I've done some form of exercise. The 7-minute workout counts, so I'm doing one or two 30-minute runs a week, and the rest of the days are 7-min workouts.

Many comments in this thread are failing to address the question of exercise in a rational way. As I see it the relevant questions are:

* What are the incremental benefits of Alternative X (such as "lift weights 3-4 times a week")? Clearly there are benefits, but without a guess as to the magnitude of the benefit, one cannot rationally evaluate it vs the costs.

* Is there a superior alternative to Daily 7-Min that takes about the same time?

* How much better is a daily 7-min than doing nothing?

Yes there is a superior alternative that takes about the same time. Buy a 100 lb weight set and add weight to your 7 minute workout.

You've just added a barrier now. Most people don't want to buy or store weights. One of the appeals of the 7MW is that it requires no equipment.

He wanted something better in 7 minutes.

Also keep in mind that sooner or later you'll get bored with a workout that doesn't even prevent your shape from worsening. 100 lbs of weight takes up a square foot of space. Most people who come to the gym not knowing what to do with themselves gravitate towards a few light weights they could have at home.

I like your rule. Been thinking about this for the days I can't quite get up early enough for a run. I think you just confirmed my thoughts so your rule is now my rule.

I wrote the top comment in that thread. I want to take a moment to rescind my hard-line attitude as to what constitutes "proper" fitness. The 7-minute workout may be a bit gimmicky and overly minimalist, but it is certainly better than nothing, especially if you do a "set" of 3 "reps" (ie do the workout 3 times) three times a week. You'll probably get some aerobic and anaerobic benefits.

However, just as important, if not more important, is diet. When counting calories, exercise is no substitute for eating less. Whatever diet you end up using (I have my own strong opinions on that but I'll refrain from sharing those here) it is critical for health and well-being to stay within a healthy bodyfat range.

Also, one more thing about that thread. I mentioned leangains and starting strength. Starting strength is excellent for getting strong. Leangains isn't. Leangains is wonderful for getting thinner while retaining your strength. For building muscle, a modest caloric surplus seems to work just as well as, if not better than, intermittent fasting. I'm developing a website that explains more, which will hopefully be launching in the next month or two.

I'll second the suggestion to read Starting Strength if you're going to lift weights. Starting Strength has excellent descriptions of how to perform the lifts correctly. If you're not lifting with correct form you could hurt yourself. If you're not meeting the lifting standards then it's impossible to quantify your progress.

How would you recommend to determine how many calories a specific person needs, and how to easily calculate them? I am aware of the countless number of ways for this, but I am not sure how to differentiate between the working ones and those that usually don't.

Here's what worked for me:

I tried various BMR/TDEE calculators and they all told me to consume around 2200 cals a day to maintain my current weight. (IMO it honestly doesn't matter which calculator you use - they are all approximate anyway).

To lose weight, I created a mild calorific deficit of 200 cals/day, so basically I eat ~2000 cals a day. I use the myfitnesspal app to track calories. I eat anything I want (yes, including the occasional donut/beer) but I keep the daily total to ~2000.

I logged my weight every day, first thing in the morning. (Note that it is important to log your weight daily as it can fluctuate 1-1.5 lbs each day, so you want to be looking at weekly trend lines, vs say measuring once a week).

At 2000/day my weight trend stayed steady for 2 weeks. So I bumped it down to 1800/day. Now my trend is pointed down, and I'm losing ~1 lb a week.

So that's basically all it takes. Precision and discipline wrt daily calories, with some trial and error to figure out what your individual daily calorific need is. I think a lot of folks make it a lot more complex than it actually is with keto, paleo, insulin levels, etc etc.

The mifflin st jeor equation was found by experimentation to produce the most consistently accurate BMR [1]. You can find it on wikipedia [2]. As for tracking calories, I use my own software for this, which is what I'll be releasing soon, but right now myfitnesspal.com is the de facto standard.

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15883556

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basal_metabolic_rate

It's going to seem like a plug since I work there, but at Fito we created a macronutrient tracker (iOS only unfortunately) that includes a calculator for various goals that has seen pretty excellent results. IMO it's the best free resource available right now.

I'd be interested in seeing your website. I have been doing starting strength and intermittent fasting since November 1, 2013. I am all the way up to squatting over 270lbs from 150, which in my mind is unbelievable. My weight is up about 10 pounds, and my body fat is the lowest it has ever been, right around 12%. When I started doing this I thought for sure I would just watch my weight drop and no muscle gain, but I was shocked that by fasting I was able to gain muscle and strength. No calorie counting either. But I eat as healthy as I can, 5 days a week. Basically you can build muscle on a calorie deficient diet, look up Mammalian target of rapamycin.

I also fit in some carb backloading days, and that is another thing about dieting that is amazing to me. I lost 50lbs in 2012, and it wasn't until I started to diet that I got a sweet tooth. I wasn't fat from eating candy, but once I started having a cheat day on the slow carb diet, I was up for eating a lot of candy on those days. But basically once you burn off the body fat you want to lose, if you do starting strength correctly, you can hack your body to not store any body fat when presented with fructose. It has to be timed correctly, but I do it every week, spending over $20 on muchies and $100 on weed, its a great combination for a healthy mind body and soul.

watch this for more information on carb backloading. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nlgfaMYdTpI

What's successful?

i started the 7 minute thing a few weeks ago. Since then, I've felt fitter and slightly happier. Without it, I'd still cycle to work but my upper body gets very little movement.

So, does doing some exercise make you feel better than doing next to none? In my case, definitely. Does it make you thinner and more attractive? No idea. Is the 7-minute workout the best approach? Probably not. Is it a waste of time? Hell no. Exercise is never a waste of time. And don't ever let any gym geek tell you otherwise.

This workout includes a nice mix of full-body exercises that work muscle groups needed for stability and would probably reduce the risk of injury in a lot of athletic activities. However, it's not a minimal complete workout regimen as advertised for these reasons:

1. If you do this cold, you're going to increase your chance of injury. Warm up first! If you're already fairly active, injuries suck because they keep you from doing the things you love. If you're trying to get active, an injury just shuts you down before you get started!

2. Some of these exercises can cause injury if your form is poor. If you've done them all many times before and know you have good form then, by all means, warm up and then chain these together for a nice, short HIT workout. If you're not sure you have good form, slow down! Do not perform these at a discomfort level of 8 out of 10 if you haven't learned good form yet!

3. This is a nice workout that you can perform almost anywhere, but incorporates no weights. Unless you're really out of shape (and even if you are) weights are pretty much necessary to get good results.

4. Having just one workout that you do daily is both boring and incomplete.

Personally, I think this would be a great way to boost energy in the office or warm-up for a sport, but it's not something I would rely on as my complete workout regimen. People who are unfit and are looking for an easy fix should be very cautious of this workout due to it's injury potential. With that in mind, if you can avoid injury it's a lot better than doing nothing!

Disclaimer: I am not a physical trainer or any kind fitness professional.

> 1. If you do this cold, you're going to increase your chance of injury.

I know researchers at (among other places) NTNU in Norway did some research into intense anaerobic training, and found that short workouts could be helpful, especially for those that started from poor shape. But as I recall, they had people do something like 5 minutes at max pulse (~250-300 bpm depending on your condition).

I agree that especially if you're already out of shape, going from 0-100 like that, is likely to set you up for injuries. Perhaps especially if you active training.

I'd like to see this measured against having people do 7 minutes of horse stance[1] (most wouldn't be able to start at 7 minutes).

[1] http://martialarts.about.com/od/training/ss/horsestance.htm

250-300bpm is an insane heart rate. Maybe a male twenty-three year old track star could pull that, but most of us have a MHR between 150-200.

Fair enough. The point was that you need to reach around 90% of MHR for this type of intense exorcise (TBH the last time I read about MHR was in high school, so that the extreme range was given for someone around 23 sounds about right).

Yes, I do 2 reps, twice daily, six times a week. I also walk 7 miles a day. I've lost 15 pounds in about 3 months.

I also live in Vietnam and my diet, without much work, has improved quite a bit.

I'm not looking for muscle, just to get me back to not feeling like a fat piece of shit and to stop getting winded after sex. Just keeping it real.

Your body is fairly important, so I'd suggest spending more than 7 minutes on improving it. If you can't, fix your priorities. Don't try and "hack" your workouts for the purpose of reducing how long they take.

And beyond that, the 7 minute workout is mostly useless. Go to the gym and lift weights 3-4 times a week (and then lift heavier ones the next time, repeat). It's not complicated.

The 7 minute thing wasn't so much about time (I think that was just the sales pitch) - it was promoting the HIT (High intensity training) school of thought.

Some research is pointing that, for some proportion of the population, short bursts (i.e. a few minutes) of very intense activity is either as effective or more effective than long periods spent in the gym etc.

The big caveat seems to be that response to a) HIT exercise or, b) hours at the gym in general, has a genetic component to it.


Too early to tell I guess, but it'd be really interesting to read some meta-analysis on this stuff.

I think for many people, the 7 minute number is an increase rather than a decrease.

I don't see how doing this for seven minutes is going to hurt anyone who sits on their ass all day and does nothing.

If anything it is good because it gets you started. Start doing these 7 min a day workouts and eventually you work your way up and are at the gym doing full workouts.

Lift weights 3-4 times a week? Do you even have a Unix beard?

I lift weights 3 times a week, and I have the slightly more trendy, modern version of the Unix beard.

Maybe we need a name for it. Are there any modern technological paradigms that involve close-cropped beards rather than the flowing Unix beard?

Do you have any data to prove that 7 minutes is insufficient? Seems like the people proposing this did their homework; it's only fair to expect you to do the same.


I am on the crazy side of the spectrum, currently training 10+ hours a week to do triathlon + powerlifting, but I think a more sane person could get a huge benefit in maybe 5 hours a week. 7 minutes will do something, but I would love to see any 7 minute a day workouter in as good of shape as a 5+ hour workouter.

I do disagree that the ideal workout is go to the gym and lift weights 3-4 times a week. Gym is good, weights is good (I do them), but cardio is also super good. Most studies about exercise makes your memory x% better, or exercise makes you live y% longer are about cardio.

Ways to try and get both?

a) 4 days of 1 hour of crossfit type exercise would work (not my preference) or b) 2 days of weights for about an hour, 2 days of cardio for about an hour, and a decent amount of walking on off days.

The point of the 7-min workout isn't to keep you in as good of shape as a 5+ hour workouter, the point is to get 90% of the health benefits in a minimal amount of time as the 5+ hour person. The 7-min workout is designed for the busy professional concerned about their health. If you want to run triathlons, you still are going to need to slog it out doing training workouts.

I would be astonished if 7 minutes per day provided even a measurable percentage of the benefits of exercising 5 hours per week (say 3.5 hours lifting and 3 30 minute runs).

Is there any evidence that it can?

The nytimes article listed in the parent, which is what sparked the 7-min workout craze, discusses and links to the study. I am not going to get into too much detail, but the general idea is that working a bunch of different muscle groups at high intensity for short periods gets you most of the benefits of longer endurance based workouts.

I have a very similar training regimen. I train twice a day. Morning and evening. What I do depends on how I feel and weather. It comes out to probably 14+ hours a week. I either do weights (squats, cleans, etc) or run or walk with a weighted vest (40 lbs at the moment) for 3 miles.

As long as I eat and sleep enough I feel awesome and have tons of energy and mentally I feel better. In fact, I felt better mentally and physically when I started doing 2 a day workouts.

Everyone thinks I'm insane and say it's not possible without drugs. At first it might make you feel a little drained, but you build up to it over time if you stick with it.

The human body is capable of amazing things. You don't have to treat it like a thin shelled egg when it comes to exercise.

I would frame it slightly different; if you can't spend more than 7 minutes improving your body, keep searching & find the thing you can spend more than 7 minutes on.

The process by which you do this is important, by the way. Don't lounge on the internet looking for the most feel-good workout that talks about your chakras, alignment, and generally promises returns for no work. Do collect a grab-bag of activities (weight lifting, soccer, rock climbing...) and try one for 1-2 weeks as if you were serious about it. Then see how you feel about it, and if you don't like it after a few weeks try the next thing.

7 minute is good for sustainability. I'm doing it most days after work and I lost a healthy amount of weight in a month. I also have less back pains due to sitting all day in front of computer.

From reading the article it seems like this is intended to be a form of high intensity training (HIT). The idea behind HIT is that intensity is more important for results than duration. There are plenty of studies showing the importance of workout intensity. Probably the most well known (and consequently misused) is the work done by Dr Tabata. His original protocol was very specific but Tabata training has become a shorthand for eight sets of twenty seconds of intense exercise with ten second rests between sets.

People disagree about the tradeoffs between intensity and duration. I'm not an expert on that so my opinion isn't really helpful on that topic. However, I do see some potential problems with the seven minute workout. It's really hard to increase the intensity of several of the exercises. It's really hard to increase the intensity of wall sit, plank and side plank. Once your thighs are parallel to the floor the only way to increase wall sit intensity is to add weight. You can make planks harder by positioning your arms higher up but once again you'll hit a limit pretty fast.

This is probably a decent workout for a beginner but because it doesn't scale well with fitness level I don't see it staying effective. Having said that this is definitely better than nothing and the convenience makes it likely that a beginner will be willing to try it.

7 minutes? I guess anything is better than nothing. However:

Reddit motto #1 - lawyer up and hit the gym.

Reddit motto #2 - Squats, bench, and dead lifts.

I always thought it was a running Reddit joke. However, after going to the gym for years and not seeing wow-type results, I gave #2 a try. After 3 months of it, I have to be honest and say that I'm pretty impressed with the results. I've lost a lot of fat and am far stronger and fitter. But 7 minutes? No. My normal sessions are around 2 hours. A podcast or two, and time flies.

The actual article recommends more than 7 minutes.


A problem for any routine is that people might not have a reasonable baseline for what intense activity actual is.

> Squats, bench, and dead lifts

Those plus overhead press and some rows (the Stronglifts 5x5 and Madcow 5x5 methods) will increase your strength dramatically in just a few months. Try it once and you'll never look back.

Thanks. I'll definately be adding these next session.

Can't forget to delete the facebook...


I find that I hit a slump around 3:30pm and have been using the 7-minute work out for a mental break from work. I definitely miss some days, but overall I usually do it roughly every other weekday. I know it isn't going to replace my other fitness activities (ultimate frisbee and volleyball), but it's nice way to get my heart rate going and mind off of work without changing/going to the gym (where I am fish out of water).

You don't change? But do you shower after? I get very sweaty, don't you? Just curious. I'd like to know more about how you do this at work in practice :) Does wherever you work have a good location for it?

At one time I worked out 2 hours, 3-4 times a week with a majority of that being cardio. I then started having back problems and it hindered how I worked out until I didn't anymore. Over the years I put on weight and I sit all day for work.

I would never get very far with workouts because my back would flare up badly. In an effort to get back in shape and lose some weight I've been doing a 10 minute cardio workout 3-4 times a week.

It's helped tremendously and I've lost over 15 pounds. It's also prevented my back from really flaring up because I'm not over stressing it. I've even worked up to doing an additional 30-40 minute cardio workout once a week.

I'll never have the cardio I had years ago but I'm in much better shape than when I was doing nothing. It's also motivated me to start wearing my fitbit again and getting up and walking through my work campus once a day.

Yes it can help. What the naysayers don't realize is that many people are out of shape, have medical issues, etc. They also don't realize that even getting into a short rhythm of working out snowballs into other self-conscious health thoughts and activities.

I'm with bretthopper. The 7 minute workout is a good start for us developers who probably get little to no exercise. That said, I don't think it's designed to actively make you lose weight, bulk up, or increase your cardiovascular fitness.

If you're looking for those things, get your heart pumping for longer than 15 minutes and work on a solid routine at a gym.

Forget the gym. If you have the time, do p90x. I swear, if you do that, you'll be in the best shape of your life. The biggest problem is maintaining once your done. I can't seem to keep the routine indefinitely.

I stopped about 5 months ago and haven't done much besides surf a couple times a month and I'm still in pretty good shape. I'll start again in March to get ripped for the summer.

I probably should have been doing these 7 minute workouts to maintain...

I tried it out for about two months and saw no real benefits. Nothing changed physically.

I just bit the bullet and joined a gym. It's not that I'm lazy - I just get incredibly bored at the gym doing those reps. But I am doing 1 hour a day 6 days a week of hard workout with equipment.

Do yourself a favor and bite the same bullet: Join a gym and pump some iron.

You might take a look at HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training). I started doing it two months ago and I think it is well worth the effort. Although it takes half an hour but it has a long lasting metabolic speedup effect and a little euphoric feeling which keeps you doing it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-intensity_interval_trainin...

I usually do 3 workouts a week. It consists of a 5 minute warmup followed by eight 1 minute sprints with 2 minute walk intervals and an 5 minute cooldown at the end: 5+(8*3)+5: 34 minutes total. As others have said there is no point in "hacking" your workouts. You can do away with optimizations like HIIT, but imho you still need around 1 hour of exercise every day to keep yourself healthy.

I fell off the wagon after tearing my calf doing the 7 minute workout, don't ask, but ramp up a little and take it easy.

My GF on the other hand used the 7 minute workout as her only exercise during our extended trip and gained strength and mobility. It definitely works.

That sounds undesirable. I go 6 days/wk for 30-45min. I love the benefits of working out, but it's more of a mental break for me. I listen to Mixergy, learn a thing or two, and reset myself. I spend 12+ hours a day at the computer. The least I could do is workout for 30min.

The 7-minute workout is better than nothing, but I wouldn't look at it as a go-to strategy.

I guess it really depends on your perspective. I've always worked out, so I enjoy it. But for some it's an inconvenience. It just like food between my wife and I. She likes food variety and it's an experience for her. I just eat so I don't die and can (and do) eat the same thing every day.

7 minutes is better than nothing, but you really need 30 minutes minimum to get your metabolism up to the point where it stays elevated throughout the day. Less than that, and you don't get the lasting, day long benefits of a workout.

The concept of "you don't need a gym membership or weights to get results" is very sound. My girlfriend is essentially a full-time acrobat (extremely fit, trains for 25+ hours a week), and she started me on a simple workout that takes 30-60 minutes, and goes in five week cycles of building up in reps. It's produce more results in a shorter period of time than any traditional gym workout.

British Journalist Andrew Marr suffered a stroke following a high intensity training session. He's doing the chat show circuit claiming rowing machines and HIIT are responsible for his stroke. The NHS website have quite a sensible take on it:


Basically if you're going to do high intensity efforts, best get checked out with your doctor first, particularly if you're a bit stressed.

I started with it using one of the many available apps and did it every day for about 2 months. I stopped when I bought a small set of dumbbells and started moving to ~ 30 minute workout sessions.

It was a good starting point. I've always been fit (soccer player & runner) but never did much weights so I found it a good motivator to do more than just run as my workout.

Try adding kettlebell to it. Unlike dumbbells, working with kettlebell is very dynamic and works on the whole body. It took a while for me to find a good kettlebell routine on youtube, but it was well worth it. I do it for 15 min a day instead of 7.

Care to share the link? I'm curious about kettlebell.

This is the only decent routine I was able to find:


Short and sweet. Rest of videos is just a bunch of torsos.

it's decent as an absolute minimum, but what you should really do is buy a barbell, 10-20kg in weights, and do SQUATS.

I'm not sure what you're doing with 20kg.

I've been doing it most days for the last six weeks, and I love it.

What were the success metrics?

7 minute workout is good AFTER my workout. adds to the burn and gives some direction.

you need to workout and lift weights if you want to get muscles

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