You’re busy. We’re busy. Everybody’s busy. Finding the time and energy for exercise is difficult, especially on workdays when you’re already up earlier and home later than you’d prefer.
Lunchtime workouts are the solution. Take those 30 minutes you’d normally burn BS-ing with coworkers and put them to better use at the gym with these routines, designed by Long Island-based strength coach John Gaglione, founder of Gaglione Strength.
Perform each once a week, and these three workouts will target all your major muscle groups, providing maximal gains in minimal time. You’ll have more energy in the afternoon, and after work you can settle into your couch or cocktail without any “I should be at the gym” guilt.
WORKOUT ONE: LOWER BODY
These will open up your hips and activate the muscles you’ll use during your primary exercises, Gaglione says. Because they’re meant to get your muscles fired up, you don’t want to use much weight. Whatever you could lug if you were giving these your maximum effort, grab 25% of that for the first set, and 50% for the second, Gaglione advises. Don’t take any rest in between sets.
1. Reverse Lunge. Two sets of eight repetitions (reps) per leg.
2. Single-leg Glute Bridge. Two sets of eight reps per leg.
Combining a “compound” strength exercise like the squat with a power move is a great way to stimulate lots of different muscles and burn fat, Gaglione says. Assuming you’re heading to the gym alone, he recommends completing these exercises with dumbbells. “You can simply drop the weights if you get into trouble,” he says. “No spotter needed.” If your goal is to burn fat, aim to rest for one minute between sets. If you’re more focused on building muscle, give yourself two minutes between sets.
1. Front Squat. Five sets of five reps using 75% of the maximum weight you can lift. (Put another way, this means grabbing a weight you could do 10 reps with if you went “all out,” Gaglione says.) He also recommends starting with dumbbells if you’re not accustomed to this exercise.
2. Vertical Jump. Five sets of five reps. Crouch down and perform an explosive jump straight up as high as you can go, Gaglione says.
WORKOUT TWO: UPPER BODY
Gaglione says these will fire up your chest, shoulders, and upper back, preparing those muscle groups for your more-intense primary exercise.
1. Face Pulls. Two sets of 20 reps. After pulling the weight to you, be sure to pause before returning to starting position, Gaglione says. Again, for the first set grab 25% of the maximum weight you can lug, and use 50% of your max for the second set.
2. Push-Ups. Two sets of 10 reps.
Waiting for equipment can wipe out big chunks of your free time. Because push-ups utilize only your body weight, all you need is an empty section of gym—no waiting required, Gaglione says. Finding an open bench can be a little more tricky, but using dumbbells means you’ll avoid the crowded bench-press specific equipment pieces. (Again, if your goal is to burn fat, aim to rest for one minute between sets. If you’re more focused on building muscle, give yourself two minutes between sets.)
1. Paused Bench Press. Five sets of five reps using 75% of the maximum weight you can lift.
2. Chest-Tap Push-Up. Five sets of five reps. Perform an explosive push-up, launching yourself off the ground so that you have time to quickly tap your chest with both hands. Be sure to return to the ground softly and under control, Gaglione says.
WORKOUT THREE: CORE
People think “abs” when they think of their core. But this region also includes the lower and middle trunk muscles along your sides and spine, which support your back and help your posture, Gaglione says.
1. Planks. One repetition held for 30 seconds, clenching abdominals throughout.
2. Side Plank. Two repetitions (one per side), held for 20 seconds.
3. Lat Pull-Down. One set of 10 reps, using just 25% to 50% of the maximum weight you can lift.
Once again, if your goal is to burn fat, aim to rest for one minute between sets of these exercises. If you’re more focused on building muscle, give yourself two minutes between sets.
1. Sumo Deadlift. Five sets of three reps using 75% of the maximum weight you can lift. If you’re not flexible enough to start with the weight on the ground, Gaglione suggests using the lowest starting level on a power rack.
2. Jumping Pull-Up with Leg Raises. Five sets of three reps. Perform a jumping pull-up, then lower yourself slowly back almost to the floor. When you get there, perform a leg raise before returning to starting position.