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Easy, Equipment-Free Exercises You Can Do On Your Lunch Break

When you’re trying to stay fit and healthy during the work week, the biggest hurdle to jump is trying to find time to exercise.

But though an hour-long lunch break can sometimes seem to fly by, it’s actually more than enough time to fit in a full-body workout – one that’ll leave you flushed with endorphins and clear-headed enough to help you make excellent decisions the rest of the day.

Want to know exactly what to do to get there? We tapped into the expertise of Sydney-based celebrity personal trainer Jono Castano to help out. Ahead he shares simple exercises that can be done separately if you have only a few minutes to spare outside. Or, if you have a full hour and can head to a gym, can be spun into one big workout.

The warm-up

First off, if you’re planning to exercise for more than just a few minutes, you’ll want to start with a warm-up. It’s probably the most important part of the workout as it increases blood flow and heart rate, says Castano. He suggests going for a quick jog around a nearby park or open space.

Image: Chander R / Unsplash

“We’re just going to go for 10 minutes, so it’s going to be a little passive jog, nothing too serious,” he says.

The last five minutes of the jog should be focused on increasing the heart rate. To do this, Castano suggests picking up the tempo and taking longer strides to make sure your heart rate is up nice and high to prepare for the rest of the workout.

Push-ups

After you’re done with the jog, take a quick 2-3 minute break to recover and set yourself up for the full-body circuit, which will start with a simple set of push-ups.

“Find an area where it’s comfortable for you and make that your station for the entire workout,” says Castano. “Then dip straight into the push-ups for a full one minute, doing as many as you can”.

It’s important to get used to progression and regression during workouts, with the former simply meaning that you do as much as you can as long as you step it up in subsequent sessions. Think of regression movements as the concessions you can fall back upon if you feel like you can’t get through.

For example, doing push-ups on your knees is a regression movement – completely fine if that’s what you need to get through the workout. The key is to count your push-ups and then try and top it the following week.

Squat jumps

After you’re done with the push-ups, make a straight transition into squat jumps. This is a posterior training exercise, so it’s really going to fire up your glutes, quads, hamstrings and core.

Like before, do as many as you can in one minute, and if you feel like your knees aren’t strong enough, regress into normal squats without the jumping.

“If you feel like you’re going to tire out, just slow the tempo down and take your time,” says Castano.

Pylometric lunges

For your third exercise, go for the pylometric lunges or, as a regression, just normal lunges alternated between both legs with no jumping. Similar to the squats, this will engage the glutes, hamstrings, and quads, so you’re really going to start feeling that burn with the two exercises back to back.

Do as many as you can within one minute, and if at this point you feel things are getting too hard just take a quick breather before moving on. Jono suggests a 45-second break for beginners, 30 seconds for intermediate, and 15 seconds for advanced, between any of these exercises.

Plank and side planks

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Quickly segue into the plank position, and hold for 20 seconds (beginner), 30 seconds (intermediate) or 1 whole minute (advanced). As soon as that’s finished, you’ll want to transition into a side plank with the same time, before repeating on the other side.

“When you go into planks this is going to have us really engaging the core,” says Castano. “Then side planks are going to incorporate upper body as well as putting the core under more load from a different angle”.

High knees and mountain climbers

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Whether you rest for those few seconds, or jump straight into it, you’ll want to end the workout with two of the most demanding exercises. First, the high knees, getting them as high as you can, for 20, 30 or 60 seconds, before going straight down into the mountain climbers.

Here is where you increase the heart rate as much as you can, and given its the last exercise of the round you’re going to want to make sure you’re giving it everything you have. Again, do as many as you can within the appropriate time limit.

Repeat

“As soon as you’re finished you’re going to repeat the whole thing again, aiming for six solid rounds of the full-body circuit,” says Castano. “Although if you’re a beginner, just take as much rest as you can, don’t force it but look to improve each week.”

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An active recovery is necessary to cap off this kind of workout, with Jono suggesting taking a nice five-minute stretch and going for a little walk before heading back to the office. Repeat this whole thing at least 3 to 4 times a week, and pay attention to how much time you’re allocating to rest. From that, it’s all about seeing some kind of progression.

(Lead images: Matthew LeJune & Chander R / Unsplash, all other images: Chris Singh)

Published 13 November, 2019