Even though your workout routine may not look the same as it did before the pandemic, that's not to say you're worse off. For many people, working from home has provided the convenient opportunity to squeeze in a midday exercise swesh (which has legit benefits, BTW). But, if you're used to sweating early in the morning or at night, you may be wondering what the best lunchtime workouts are that'll bring you that afternoon energy boost.
Whether you're looking for something more low-impact or prefer cardio-based exercise, there are a variety of workouts that are perfect for a stress-relieving break from your desk. Below are five lunchtime workout ideas that certified personal trainers recommend.
According to Holly Roser, an NASM-certified personal trainer and owner of Holly Roser Fitness in San Francisco, doing some midday boxing brings special perks. "Boxing is my favorite way to de-stress in the afternoon as it breaks up your day, wakes you up, and helps relieve tension [that's built up] from the day," she tell Bustle. She points out that this type of exercise in the morning can be challenging "for those who don't feel like concentrating at 7 a.m. and just want to zone out and get their workout over with." Because boxing takes focus and precision, it's more ideal to do later in the day.
Another case for working on your cross-jab-hook routine midday? Roser notes that boxing can rev up your heart rate and energy levels, potentially causing a sleepless night if you’ve done it in the evening. So grab your jump rope and boxing gloves for that afternoon punching sesh.
Zumba is a fitness program that incorporates Latin and international music with a variety of fast-paced dance moves. According to Roser, this sort of dance workout can have a huge impact on your attitude for the rest of your work day. Plus, who wouldn't want to have a dance party in the middle of their day?
“Even if you don’t have all the moves down, Zumba will likely leave you feeling like you’re doing a workout that doesn’t feel like a chore,” she says. That's because you're focused on your footwork and busy swiveling your hips in tune to the music, which is more than you can say for burpees (just sayin').
3. High-Intensity Interval Training
High-intensity interval training, or HIIT, mixes functional exercises like squat jumps, lunges, moving push-ups, and burpees (among many other strength training staples) for a full-body workout. And, according to Lee Jay, an ACE-certified personal trainer based in Tel Aviv, HIIT makes an optimal choice for a high-energy workout when you've got limited time (like between Zoom meetings).
“It’s also more ideal for midday than in the mornings because it requires fast bursts of energy and deep movements, and can provide an excellent mental boost for the remainder of your day,” she tells Bustle. Since HIIT involves exhilarating intervals with minimal rest, it's challenging and gives you more bang for your sweaty buck — and it's over before you realize it.
Yoga is always a good idea. Jay believes hitting your yoga mat works to not only improve your flexibility, but also allows for some much needed, uninterrupted time to tap into your mind and body. “Though it’s ideal for any time of day, yoga is known to improve blood flow and distribute energy around the body, so taking a midday pause to tap into the mind and stretch the muscles is one way to get the most out of your lunch break,” she says.
The twisting and turning movements are also great for de-bloating and improving digestion, meaning your energy levels are maintained, and you may just avoid that sluggish feeling so often felt later in the day.
5. Strength Training
Strength training requires energy in order to build muscle, so the later you do this type of workout, the better you'll perform, says Jay. This is especially true if you eat most of your caloric intake in the first half of the day, since it'll give you plenty of stored energy for efficient midday strength exercises, she explains.
“It’s better to go for a powerful lifting session when our energy is at its peak and the mood strikes,” she tells Bustle. Jay recommends incorporating compound movements (exercises which fire up multiple muscle groups at the same time) such as squats with an overhead press, deadlifts, push-ups, and lunge variations into each workout for a quick, effective, and time-efficient workout that also brings you an afterburn effect.
Barbosa de Lira, C. (2013). Heart rate response during a simulated Olympic boxing match is predominantly above ventilatory threshold 2: a cross sectional study. Open Access Journal of Sports Medicine, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3871409/
Costigan, Sarah A. (2016). High-Intensity Interval Training for Cognitive and Mental Health in Adolescents. Med Sci Sports Exerc., https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27187097/
Woodyard, C. (2011). Exploring the therapeutic effects of yoga and its ability to increase quality of life. International Journal of Yoga, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3193654/
Holly Roser, an NASM-certified personal trainer and owner of Holly Roser Fitness in San Francisco
Lee Jay, an ACE-certified personal trainer based in Tel Aviv