Quick workout ideas for your lunch break

How to train better with less time

Most of us feel that we have a very limited amount of time for fitness training. Between work meetings, reports and trying to have a full lunch hour, finding the time to head to the gym and slogging it out on the treadmill can seem near impossible. 

Well, the good news is you don’t really need to spend a lot of time to have an effective workout.  It’s about training smarter, not longer. 

Recent research has shown that you only need to work out for as little as 4 minutes a day to reduce your waistline and see positive results in your health markers. However, in order to achieve these results, intensity is key. Your shorter workout should involve super high intensity, where you’re gasping for air and pushing yourself to the limit.  You need to work as hard as you can for the time you’ve been given. 

The benefits of high intensity training include:

- Time efficient

- Increased calories burned outside of training compared to steady exercise

- Potential to improve your health markers substantially more than steady exercise sessions

So instead of spending an hour jogging on the treadmill, why not try and get fit with HIT? Below is a simple guide on how to train effectively in just 20 minutes.

Warning: The exercises described below are high-intensity and may not be suited to all people. Please check with your health practitioner before undertaking any of the activities described. 

To maximise the benefits from your workout, your 20-minute workout should consist of:

- A 5 minute warm up such as light jogging and dynamic stretching. Start at a slow pace, gradually increasing speed . At the end of your warmup, you should be slightly sweaty and have an elevated heart rate. 

- A 10 minute workout involving a high intensity session (examples below)

- A 5 minute cool down – static stretch or go for a walk to allow breathing to calm down

For your 10 minutes of high intensity training, you can try the following work outs:

1. Tabata

Total time: 4 minutes – 20 seconds on, 10 second rest

Remember that during the 20 seconds on, you need to be working as hard as you can. You can pick any exercise to do in tabata, but the most effective exercises are those that you can do really fast!

Below are a few exercises you could try, depending on your fitness level. You can do a single exercise for the whole 4 minutes, or mix it up with a combination of different exercises. Just remember you only have 10 seconds rest, which can make changing exercises more difficult e.g. getting on and off the rower. 

Beginner: rowing, running, biking 

Intermediate: burpees, squat jumps, lunge jumps

Advanced: box jumps, kettle bell swings, kettle bell thrusters

2. Interval training or HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)

Interval training refers to a period of work followed by a period of rest. The ratio could be 1 block of work followed by 1 block of rest (1:1) or 2 periods of work followed by 1 period of rest (2:1) or vice versa (1:2). 

The different formats and exercises are endless! You can get as creative as you like. Here are some examples:

- 5 rounds of 1 minute of rowing followed by1 minute rest (1:1) takes 10 minutes

- 12 rounds of 30 seconds of burpees followed by 30 seconds rest (1:1) takes 12 minutes

- 6 rounds of 20 second sprint followed by 40 second rest takes 6 minutes

Feel free to change around the movements to suit your environment. For example, use squat jumps, lunge jumps, KB swings, box jumps etc. Just maintain the high intensity, and follow the times. 

3. Circuit training 

Usually a block of intense work followed by very little rest in between many exercises. For example:

- 3 rounds: 

10 push ups

20 lunges

30 box jumps

- 4 rounds (for each exercise, 45 seconds on, 15 seconds rest. Use the rest to move to the next station. Total workout time: 12 minutes) 

1. Burpees

2. Row

3. Kettle bell swings

So next time you’re busting to go to the gym or sweating it out outdoors but don’t have a whole hour to spare, pick an intense session, and get it done! 

Elle Welsman

Elle owns Sydney's first women's CrossFit gym, CrossFit Tone in Brookvale. She has a passion for helping women realise how fit and healthy they can be through strength and high intensity training. Having a keen interest in positive body image, Elle pushes women to be self confident through her training systems. Click here to learn more about Elle Welsman and her outlook and approach!