We tried the science-backed 7-minute fitness routine that's going viral -- and it actually works

Crunches sideBusiness Insider/Erin BrodwinMe, doing the seven-minute workout in BI’s office.

When we first heard about the 7-minute workout, an app that promises to grant you the benefits of a sweaty bike ride and a trip to the gym in just a few minutes, we thought it was all hype.

But as it turns out, the app actually, well, works you out.

We tried it for ourselves for the first time in January, and we’re still hooked. It’s become so popular that The New York Times recently released its own version of the app.

It’s perfect on the weekends, when I can’t make it to a yoga class, or as something fun to do with a friend at home.

Here’s how it works:

First thing's first: The entire workout takes just 7 minutes, and it looks super simple. Initially, I was sceptical I could accomplish this much in such a narrow time frame.

7-Minute Workout/Wahoo

The workout consists of 12 standard exercises like jumping jacks, sit-ups, and push-ups. Ten of them require nothing but your own body (you'll need a chair that can support your weight for the others). The New York Times' version of the app shows proper positioning for each, which you do for 30 seconds:

To do my workout, all I used was a yoga mat, the hardwood floor of my office, a wall, and a stool.

Business Insider/Erin Brodwin

The first four exercises -- 30 seconds each of jumping jacks, a wall sit, push-ups, and crunches, with 10 seconds of rest in between -- were easy-peasy. I started to think the workout was all hype.

Business Insider/Erin Brodwin

But by the time I got to exercise No. 8 -- plank -- I was starting to feel a bit winded. At this point, I'd also finished the step-ups onto a chair, the squats, and the triceps dips. Still four exercises to go.

Business Insider/Erin Brodwin

Next, it was on to running in place with my knees as high as I could get them, lunging, doing alternating push-ups and rotations (raising one arm high into the air while balancing on the other), and side planks, where you align your body sideways and balance on one hand and the side of one foot.

Business Insider/Erin Brodwin

Full set of 12 exercises complete!

Business Insider/Erin Brodwin

In the end, the workout was actually, well, a workout. Still, I wasn't totally wiped and I felt as if I could do a bit more. So I did a second set.

Business Insider/Erin Brodwin

The idea of a workout you can do in minutes was originally envisioned by personal trainer Brett Klika and exercise physiologist Chris Jordan of the Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute in Orlando, Florida. Here's Klika demonstrating one of his workouts:

The concept behind the workout is interval training -- short, intense periods of exercise broken up by brief periods of rest. It's less time consuming than a traditional workout, but studies suggest it may actually be more beneficial.

Several studies back high-intensity interval training for both building muscle and helping to protect the heart. But since this specific workout is still pretty new, we don't have long-term studies comparing it to traditional workouts yet.

I'm satisfied overall with the 7-minute workout, and I've been doing it every so often ever since I first tried it out as an addition to my regular yoga routine. But don't take my word for it -- try it for yourself!

Business Insider/Erin Brodwin

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