You only have one hour. You need go to the gym, change, exercise, change again and return back to your desk in an hour. This might sound impossible at first, but once you actually make a plan and start executing it, you will look forward to every lunch.
Why should I work out during my lunch break?
There are three major reasons to do that. Number 1 is time. If you decide to go after work, you will lose around 80-90 minutes of your evening in the gym. This is time you could have spent at home studying, cleaning or just relaxing in front of your computer. Time is a resource (the most important resource for that matter), so you need to learn how to budget and use it to its maximum potential.
The second reason is that I take a break from my job and everybody at work. Spending 8-9 hours in the same environment can be quite a daunting experience, even if you enjoy your job and co-workers. Going to the gym gives you the opportunity to forget work for an hour and refresh your mind with new energy for the afternoon.
The third reason why you should go to the gym – building a routine. If you usually go to the gym after work hours or when you are home, you might say to yourself “Oh, I am tired”, “I will go tomorrow” or “I am hungry and want to go home”. It’s a lot harder to say “No” if you go during your lunch break.
So here is a full breakdown of my full hour and how I prepare before and after to make the most of my lunch.
5 minutes before lunch break:
I use this time to prepare for the gym. I go to the toilet and fill up my water bottle. I put something in my pocket, which I can eat on my way to the gym – banana or some small source of carbs.
Doing all of these things will help you save precious minutes in the gym, which you can use for more exercises.
10 minutes into the lunch break:
My gym is 5 minutes walking distance from my office. I will usually walk a little bit faster, which acts as my warm up cardio for my workout.
Once I go to the gym, I quickly change into my gym gear, which takes me around 5 minutes. I also use this time to take one caffeine pill, which gives me more energy during the workout.
40 minutes of working out
The crucial thing about working out in 40 minutes is taking as short breaks as possible between sets. This is good for you, because this allows for greater muscle fatigue. That is definitely the hardest part of the workout, because in the past I rested for 1-2 between sets. Unfortunately, I cannot afford this during my lunch, I generally keep it down to 30-40 seconds.
I also discovered that doing supersets is a very useful technique to squeeze maximum sets in short amount of time. Pick two exercises which you can switch easily between. After you do one, do immediately the other exercise. After you are done with both, you take a break.
You shouldn’t wait for any gym equipment to be available. If the squat rack is busy, go do lunges or leg press and keep an eye on the squat rack. When it becomes free, run up and take it. If it doesn’t become available, rough luck – try again next time. Make a plan B and have enough exercises in your mind, so you always keep yourself busy.
I usually do 3-4 sets of an exercise, with increasingly heavier weight and then a final set with very light weight to burn out the muscles. This is a personal preference, so you should find out what is your optimal way for completing your workout routine.
Keep the cardio to a minimum. You don’t have time to shower after your workout, so you should keep the sweat to a minimum. If your workout consists of mostly cardio, reduce the time of your workout, so you have enough time to shower.
My general breakdown of my workout is:
- 2 minutes warm up and stretching
- 5-6 exercises – 3-4 sets each
- 3-5 minutes cool-down exercises and stretching
Last 10 minutes of my lunch
I change back into my work clothes, put some deodorant on me and walk back to my office. I have a protein bar or some snack on my way back to the office.
Because you didn’t have time to eat lunch, you need to eat it while you work. Depending on company policy, it could be allowed to eat food on your desk. This makes you look busier and more committed to your work. Pick something that is not smelly or hard to eat. I usually have some sandwiches, pasta or chicken. The key is something fast and easy. If I try to bulk, I also have a lot of mini snacks throughout the day.
And this is it. I have been doing it for two months already and I am very happy with the results. I would enjoy to have 10-20 minutes more in the gym, but we should learn how to adapt to our circumstances and maximise on them.