How To Get An Effective Workout In Your Lunch Break
RACHEL HOSIE The Independent 2017-08-10 17:17:23
With lengthy commutes, demanding desk jobs and a busy social calendar (or a lack of energy to do anything more than collapse on the sofa of an evening), finding time to exercise can be hard.
So theoretically, working out in your lunch break is a brilliant idea.
In practice though, most of us are put off: we don’t feel we really have time to do a meaningful gym session, shower, eat and get back to our desks.
But this needn’t be the case.
With a spot of forward planning and the knowledge of how to maximise your workout in a short amount of time, you can exercise efficiently in your lunch break and thus find you work even better once back at your desk afterwards.
We spoke to Michael Betts, a gym trainer, to find out what we need to do in order to fit in a meaningful workout in a lunch break.
Here’s an example of a simple 30 minute bodyweight workout that can be done anywhere.
Warm-up (5 – 10 minutes)
Use the walk from work to get your body ready to exercise. If you can’t, then jump on the treadmill or bike for five minutes before you move onto the mobilisation.
Mobilisation (2.5 minutes)
This part of the workout aims to mobilise the joints to ensure you have a good range of movement and to make sure your body is ready for the upcoming exercises. Mobilisation exercises are full body movements that slowly take the joints through their full range of motion.
Peripheral Heart Action/PHA (5 minutes)
PHA is about doing exercises which target the lower body followed immediately by exercises that target the upper body. You then continue to alternate between the two. These are generally strength based exercises but because you keep changing the working body part, you also increase your cardiovascular fitness.
There is generally little rest between the exercises and your heart and circulatory systems have to keep moving the blood, carrying oxygen and nutrients for the working muscles, from the lower body to the upper and back again.
Your heart rate and respiration will increase resulting in overall improvements to your fitness. It’s also a great way to increase caloric expenditure in a short amount of time.
Core (5 minutes)
Full body exercises which require core control will also help you burn more calories in a short amount of time. In our sample workout, we use a Single Arm Down Dog to Plank. You’ll find you need to contract all the muscles of your body, especially your core, resulting in you burning more calories.
Agility (5 Minutes)
As we get older, our ability to get up off the floor and do activities that require fast changes in direction decreases. Like all aspects of fitness however, our agility is something that we can train, maintain and even improve over time regardless of age.
By including a five minute agility sequence in your lunchtime workout, you can improve your ability to move around more freely and decrease the chance of injury when doing something that is a little more out of the ordinary.
Balance (5 minutes)
A lack of balance and proprioception (body awareness) can increase the chance of injury. The best exercises designed to improve these things are not just static balances, but dynamic movements that require focus and core control.
The five minute sequence included in our example blast workout will take you through a variety of positions where you’ll struggle to maintain your balance. Each time you do it though, you’ll get better.
Active Recovery (2.5 minutes)
Stretching is important. If we don’t stretch when we exercise, the muscles will shorten over time, they’ll feel tight and the chance of injury is greatly increased. At the end of you workout, you won’t really have enough time to do a full body stretch. So I have included example of exercises which will help reduce this shortening effect of exercise.
It is highly recommended though - you set aside one to two sessions per week where you can focus on your flexibility. I would suggest a good mid-week stretch and then one on the weekend when you have more time. You won’t need a lot of space and it can be done anywhere.
And just like that, your workout’s done and you haven’t had to get up early or sacrifice your social life in the evenings.
If you get into the habit of exercising at lunchtime, it will just become a normal part of your day, you’ll be more focused at work in the afternoon after having a decent break, you’ll have more energy and - once you start seeing results - you’ll probably never go back to eating al desko.