This morning I finally took the time to read both the NYT post and the article being quoted a little more carefully than I did last week. I also saw a post that Tony Gentilcore linked, by Adam Bornstein, which quotes extensively from Brad Schoenfeld
. These very fit men who work with very fit clients didn't have much good to say about the article.
Here are my thoughts:
1. The article is not about a study, but is a summary discussion of the ideas behind "High Intensity Circuit Training." The authors suggest considerations that they think are important in the design of a routine, but they did not test any particular routine. The "workout" in the article is just an example of something that you can do using these principles. They quote previous studies as support for the principles. The reader should be aware that the previous studies may not be totally relevant to his or her own situation.
2. You need to realize what the suggested workout is and what it isn't. The article is not called "The 7-minute workout". That is the name given by the author of the NYT blog post. The example routine in the article takes about 7 minutes to complete (assuming 30-on, 10-rest), but the authors suggest repeating it 2 or 3 times, depending on the time available. Using "The Scientific 28-minute Workout" would not have been as appealing a title. The authors of the article do not claim that 7 minutes of high-intensity circuit training will replace a well-designed strength training or body building program. They do say that "When HICT protocols have been compared with traditional steady state protocols in the laboratory, HICT elicits similar and sometimes greater gains in V˙O2max, despite significantly lower exercise volume." Bornstein says, "The use of bodyweight does not afford this benefit, and for those who are fairly fit it would be difficult to achieve a consistent maximum level of intensity for 30 seconds that would compare to doing a similar length of time with added resistance." This is obviously true, but the authors of the ASCM article don't claim otherwise.
3. It's important to consider the population targeted. The authors are discussing using HICT for busy people who don't have time for longer exercise sessions, may not have access to equipment, or who are in situations where they can't exercise as they normally would (e.g., while traveling).
It looks to me like the popular press has inappropriately exaggerated what the article is saying. On the other hand, the critics (Bornstein, Schoenfeld) are unfairly criticizing it. They are addressing, not the contents of the actual article, but the claims of what the popular press is saying about the article. Further, they are criticising HICT because is is not what it never was claimed to be.