The 12 Most Perfect Exercises!

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When Science Designed the Perfect Workout Guess What It Looked Like?

Put a bunch of scientists in a room and tell them to come up with the most effective 7-minute workout. Here’s what they found and surprisingly the 12 exercises they devised look exactly like Pilates! Here’s the exercises and how to do them, based on a wildly popular New York Times article that appeared last year.


This wonderful post is by Alycea Ungaro, one of today’s leading Pilates instructors who writes for

Take a look at the best 7-minute workout!

Long weekends and holidays can derail your workout routines faster than you can refill your dinner plate. Add to that list work overload and low motivation and getting to the gym can be more than a hurdle. Thankfully there are dozens of quick and dirty exercise regimens you can do when you are pressed for time, space and resources.

My favorite quickie Pilates routine borrows from a well circulated article published in the New York Times last year and titled the “Scientific 7 Minute Workout.”  In it, the experts compiled a list of 12 of the most effective exercises.  In assessing the list, I was thrilled to see that the moves looked just like a classic Pilates routine.  I have taken the liberty of translating that original article and each exercise into Pilates speak.


In case these exercises surprise you, I’ll remind you that the conditioning regimens devised by Mr. Pilates were vigorous athletic endeavors. This 7 minute routine of 12 exercises is exactly the kind of efficient workout that Mr. Pilates promoted.  Each exercise should be performed for 30 seconds with a 30 second break in between.

1. Jumping Jacks – Think 4 count Jumping Jack

  • Stand up with legs together and arms down at your sides.
  • Then jump feet together and arms and legs up.
  • Jump feet back apart and arms out sideways.
  • Jump feet together and arms down to body.
  • Repeat.

2. The Wall: Chair – Think Wall Sit.

  • Lean against wall with legs in front and feet apart and parallel.
  • Slide down wall and raise arms to shoulder height.
  • Hold for 5 breath cycles.
  • Slide back up and lower arms.
  • Repeat.

3. Pilates Push Ups – Think Push Ups with a Stretch

  • Starts standing with legs together arms raised.
  • Bend forward and walk hands out to a Push-Up
  • Land in a full push up position. Perform 3 – 5 tricep push ups with the arms bent into sides.
  • Lift hips and walk hands back to feet.
  • Return upright and repeat.

4. Roll Back – Think Backward Sit Ups

  • Begin sitting up with legs apart and bent. Hold behind your thighs.
  • Drop your head and curl your tail rounding down towards the floor.
  • Hold at your lowest point for 3 deep breaths.Pull your abdominals in with each count.
  • On the last breath, round up and over.
  • Roll up to sitting to begin again.
  • Repeat.

5. Going Up – Think Step Ups

  • Face a sturdy back chair against a wall for stability or use a step up stool
  • Place one foot atop and reach the arms up or out for balance.
  • Slowly shift weight onto the step and rise up onto the upper leg reaching the back leg long and low.
  • Return slowly down with control.
  • Repeat 15 seconds each leg.

6. Standing Footwork – Think Squats

  • Stand with legs parallel and hip width apart. Cross arms genie-style.
  • Bend the knees deeply keeping the heels flat and the back tall.
  • Hold at the lowest point for 3 counts.
  • Squeeze the gluteals and come up slowly.
  • Repeat.

For the last 6 go to For the original New York Times article go to

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