If you struggle to find time to exercise due to a jam-packed daily schedule, a lunchtime workout may be just what you need. They’re easy to fit in (especially if you’re working from home) and can be something to look forward to every day. Not to mention, you’ll get a nice energy boost to help you power through afternoons without having to rely on caffeine. Here’s what you can do with just 30 minutes to an hour to spare.
The benefits of a lunchtime workout
No waking up early.
Not an early bird? No need to pressure yourself to wake up at 5 a.m. to squeeze in daily exercise. Work out mid-day instead.
More free time
. Exercising at lunchtime means you’ll have more free time after work to run errands or spend with family and friends.
Helps to break up the work day.
Just getting away from your desk or office is a great break in the middle of the day. A brisk walk or workout can help reduce stress and refresh your mind so you’re ready to tackle the afternoon.
Energy for the afternoon
. A lunchtime workout can give you more energy, a clearer mind and more focus for the afternoon, and you may notice that you don’t need that extra cup of coffee or sugary snack to push through.
Tips for lunch break workout success
Write down in a workout journal or calendar what your workouts will be for the week. Will you head to the gym or the park? It’s important to have a set plan. This way you won’t waste time before lunch deciding what you’re going to do.
Keep your locker stocked or gym bag packed
If you have the option to rent a locker at your gym, it may be worth it so you don’t have to spend precious time packing and unpacking a gym bag. Keep gym shoes, a couple of workout outfits, hair ties and headbands, two small towels, toiletries (deodorant
, dry shampoo
, body spray, makeup wipes
, etc.) in your locker for convenience. If you’re not going to the gym, keep a bag packed with a pair of sneakers, socks and small towels in your car or at the office.
Plan pre/post workout meals
Be sure also to plan meals for the day. Eat a small snack mid-morning, preferably something with protein and carbs such as a Greek yogurt with fruit, or a clean, limited ingredient protein bar (such as an RXBAR
) to give you energy for your workout. Have a pre-workout drink ready to sip on your way to exercise. And make a post-workout meal that you can eat either on your way back to the office or at your desk – maybe a protein and greens smoothie
, or a wrap sandwich with your favorites in it.
If you aren’t able to leave the office during the day, you can still squeeze in a little workout. Slip into your sneakers and walk the halls and stairs (if available), completing a few good laps. Try one of our office/desk workouts
or stair workouts
. If you work in a cubicle, find an empty office or space where you can do callisthenic exercises or a 5-minute Tabata workout (look for Tabata apps for your phone!).
Lunchtime workout plans
With a typical lunch break, you’ll only have about 30 minutes for a workout, so you need one that provides the most bang for your buck (time)! Here are a few to consider.
Circuit workouts are great for working out your entire body in a short period of time. Most gyms have machines set up in a circuit order so you don’t even have to think about it. Do two sets on a machine, resting 15-30 seconds between sets, then move onto the next machine. Tip: After a couple of weeks, reverse the circuit starting at the last machine. This helps to switch things up for your mind and body.
Cardio machines are great for a 30-minute lunch workout. Whether you choose a treadmill, elliptical or bike start with a 5-minute warmup, followed by 20 minutes of raising your heart rate, then 5 minutes of cool down.
Check the class schedule at your gym to see what’s offered during lunch hours. Many gyms offer 30-minute strength training, yoga, Pilates or aerobics classes at this time of day.
Outdoor workouts can include both strength training and cardio. Start by walking for 5 minutes, then stop and do 2 set of both squats and lunges. Continue walking/running for 5 minutes, then do 2 sets of pushups. Walk/run for 5 more minutes, then if a bench or step is available, do triceps dips for the last 5 minutes. Finish with several stretches to relaxing your body and mind before heading back to work.
Sample schedule for 5-day lunch workout at a gym:
Week 1: 3 days circuit workout/2 days cardio
Week 2: 2 days HIIT training/2 days cardio/1 day class
Sample schedule for 3-day lunch workout at a gym:
Week 1: 2 days circuit workout/1 day cardio
Week 2: 2 days of classes/1 day cardio