How to Get Away with a Lunchtime Power Workout

Setting aside time to exercise during a busy work week can feel like a job in itself. Getting up an hour before your alarm goes off or waiting until the end of the day when all you want to do is wind down can be especially tricky. 

Our solution? Midday power workouts. Studies have shown that exercise boosts your mood, energy, creativity, and even productivity levels, making it the perfect remedy for that pesky afternoon slump! 

“Most of us tend to dip around noon, so a midday workout really helps to not only bring your heart rate up and boost energy, but it’s a great shift in core body temperature, which is good for circadian rhythms,” says Holly Perkins, BS, CSCS, author of Lift To Get Lean and founder of Women’s Strength Nation. “It also reduces stress, opens up flexibility, brings blood flow to the muscles, and opens up a range of motions through the hips from sitting all morning.”

So, who says you can’t fit a quick exercise into your hour lunch break? Here are some tips to make it happen:

Set yourself up as “away” across all platforms. First things first—if possible, set yourself as away across all work platforms including Outlook, Slack, Zoom, or whatever else may cause your focus to shift while you’re getting your sweat on. Your time is limited, and you need to make the most of it! 

Schedule workouts on Sunday for the week ahead. Planning ahead is crucial to making sure your workout doesn’t get snubbed. Hold yourself accountable by making a routine before the week starts and stick to it. Unless it’s urgent, most things can wait an hour! 

Have your workout gear laid out the morning of. Waste no time looking through drawers for workout clothes during your lunch break. Lay out your exercise gear before turning on your work computer in the morning. This will save you a few crucial minutes.

Keep your workout no longer than 45 minutes. You want to make sure you give yourself enough time to freshen up after your workout, so set an alarm for 45 minutes. That way you’ll know when it’s time to hit the showers. 

Take a cold shower. No one wants to hop on a Zoom call with a sweaty or red post-workout face. If possible, hop into a cold shower and splash your face. This will cool down your body and wake you up to get back to work. You can even put cold compresses on your face to help the redness go down. Want to cut even more time off your shower? Don’t wash your hair—two words: dry shampoo. 

Eat around your workout. Since you’re working out during your lunch break, you’ll need to plan when you’ll eat as well; trust us, it’s just as important in this process as the actual exercise. 

“A typical lunch meal is not supportive fuel for a workout, but you don’t want to go into any workout completely empty,” says Perkins. “It causes too much glykachin depletion, it’s taxing on the adrenal glands, and it causes rebounding hunger and food cravings later.” 

The solution? Perkins suggests having a small snack—around 200-250 calories—that is low in fat, low in fiber, and emphasizes protein and carbohydrates, such as a banana, about an hour before you begin your workout, then immediately afterward, have a proper lunch.

Get the most out of your lunchtime exercise. So, how do you make this workout as effective as possible?  “You need to superset your exercises,” says Dylan Schenk, CEO of LIFT Society. “For example, while you’re resting from doing a set of squats, you can do a set of hip thrusts. The squats will primarily target your quads with some glute activation while the hip thrust will primarily target the glutes with some hamstring activation. This means that while you are doing hip thrusts you can rest the muscles you used in your squats and vice versa, without having to rest between sets.” 

Check out Dylan’s quick 30-minute workout below. It can be done anywhere in your home and doesn’t require any equipment. “The goal is to take each exercise at your own pace, and repeat two to five times, based on your fitness level,” says Schenk.

1. Bodyweight Squats 

2. Single leg hip thrust (each leg)

This is an example of a regular hip thrust. For a single leg hip thrust, raise one leg in the air at a time per set.

3. Reverse Lunges 

4. Push-ups (modify on knees if needed)

5. Prone pulls or Pull-ups (more advanced) – if opting for Pull-ups, you’ll need a pull-up bar in your home. You can set one up in between any door frame. 

This is an example of a prone pull.

All in all, the benefits of a lunchtime power workout are many—more time at the end of your day, a midday energy spike so you can skip that 2 PM cup of joe, and just an overall boost in your mood.

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