Like anybody, your fitness time has to contend with work and family commitments. But you should have a lunch break, why not make the most of it? Doing sport in the middle of the day can help boost your fitness without cutting into sleep time like it might when training at night. All you need to do then is get organised and relax alone or train with some workmates.
Sport at lunch: What to do?
To get some training done at lunch time here’s a quick session that has six exercises that you can do anywhere (even the office) in an hour, warm up and cool down included. You can do each part separately if you like or as a circuit. If you’re going to string them together, take 30 seconds between each to recover. Three sets should be your goal but you can do more if you’re up for the challenge. If you’ve got the space and time you can replace the 30 seconds recovery with 3 minutes of jogging, to improve your muscles and your cardio together. For maximum effectiveness, do it regularly at least twice a week and ideally all year round.
- Before getting started, recharge your batteries by eating some fruit, a cereal bar or an energy drink (one hour before exercising)
- Make sure you’ve got a bottle of water to drink during the recovery periods.
- After training you won’t have much time to grab lunch. Nevertheless, try not to go for dishes that are too rich and that risk slowing you down! To get the afternoon off to the best start, we recommend a light lunch that is full of energy (e.g. vegetable and white meat pasta).
- To follow this programme you will need some dumbbells (you could always use a bottle of water instead).
- Do 2 to 5 sets of each exercise
- Do 10 to 20 reps of each exercise per set
- Allow yourself 30 seconds to 1 minute of recovery between each set
Warm Up: 5 Minutes
Heel kicks and high knee lifts to warm up the lower body, and arm swings to get your upper body moving.
Exercise 1: Forward Lunges
- Muscles used: thighs and glutes.
- Performing the exercise: start standing up, with your legs straight and arms hanging by your sides or on your hips. Step your left/right leg forward then lower yourself down. Stand back up by pushing through your front heel, and don’t let your front knee go further forward than your toes. Depending on your level, your front and back knees should be more or less at 90°.
- Breathing: breathe in as you bend your knees, and breathe out when you come back to your original position.
Exercise 2: Squats With Dumbbells
- Muscles used: shoulders, thighs.
- Performing the exercise: start with legs straight, feet slightly apart and pointing outwards. Your hands holding the dumbbells should be pointing towards the floor and your arms hanging by your sides. While pushing back your pelvis and bending your legs, lift your arms out to the side so that your hands are at shoulder height. Then come back to your original position.
- Breathing: breathe in when you bend your knees, and breathe out when you come back to your original position.
Exercise 3: Jumping Jacks
- Muscles used: glutes, adductors.
- Objective: to improve breathing capacity.
- Performing the exercise: stand up straight, feet together, arms placed along the body. Jump and spread your legs apart (a bit past your shoulders) while simultaneously touching your hands above your head. Return to your starting position. Keep your arms straight and your stomach tensed throughout the entire exercise. Stay on your toes.
- Breathing: inhale as you move your legs apart, exhale as you bring them back together.
Exercise 4: Tricep Extensions With Dumbbells
- Muscles used: triceps.
- Performing the exercise: stand with one foot slightly in front of the other (depending on which position gives most stability). Slightly bend your legs. Grip both dumbbells and then stretch out both arms above your head as far as possible. Then bend your arms backwards from the elbow.
- Breathing: exhale as you straighten your arms above your head and inhale when you bend your elbows and lower the dumbbells behind you.
Exercise 5: Step-ups
- Muscles targeted: thighs.
- Performing the exercise: step up onto a deck or stair then step back down. keep the weights on throughout the exercise.
- Breathing: exhale as you step up.
Exercise 6: Plank
- Targeted muscles: bodybuilding for your entire body and particularly your transverse abdominals.
- Performing the exercise: lying flat on your stomach, rest on your toes and forearms. Contract your abdominals to raise your hips, keeping them in line with your shoulders and heels. Remember to squeeze your glutes in order to keep your hips in place and avoid arching your back. Tense your abs throughout the exercise. Keep your shoulders relaxed.
- Breathing: breathe in with your chest so that you can keep your abs tensed.
Lie on your back with your arms by your sides. Suck in your belly button to lengthen your back out along the mat as you exhale through your mouth for 6 seconds (deep and natural exhalation, without forcing it), then inhale through your nose for 3-4 seconds by opening your ribcage. Repeat for 2 minutes.
Abdominal breathing helps you to slow your heart rate and breathing. It also helps you to work the transverse abdominal, a deep core muscle. This will give you a flat stomach and protect you from recurring lower back pain.