Only have a lunch break to get your workout in? Try these high-impact moves

If your day is packed from morning until night and you want to get your sweat on, your lunch break may be the only time of the day you can devote solely to yourself. It may not seem like enough time to get a full-body workout in, but there are many high-impact moves that will torch calories and get you in shape quickly. You may not even realize it, but you can create a women’s full-body workout plan to easily tackle every day.

If you’ve never heard of high-intensity interval training (HIIT), it promises the best workout in the least amount of time. HIIT workouts typically combine short bursts of intense exercise with periods of rest, usually including both an aerobic component and resistance training. When you hear researchers or doctors talk about HIIT, they’re specifically referring to workouts that get a person’s heart rate to least 80% of its maximum capacity, which can be determined by using a heart rate monitor. This means in terms of your exertion levels, you should be at about a nine to 10 out of 10.

Woman working out at home with dumbbells
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HIIT moves without equipment

If you’re looking to start with a mostly aerobic HIIT workout plan, try the four-by-four from Norway. It’s been tested by health experts and should take about 40 minutes. The routine starts with a warmup, followed by four four-minute intervals with a three-minute recovery period after each and finished with a cool-down. A typical routine is to jog for 10 minutes to warm up, then do four four-minute intervals of faster running or sprint work, with three three-minute intervals of jogging or brisk walking in between. Finish off with a five-minute cool down at the end.

If jogging isn’t your thing, you can do the same routine on a bike or in a pool if there’s one close to your place of work.

Another HIIT routine you can do anywhere is to start out with a 1:2 ratio of work to rest. So, go all-out for 30, 60, or 90 seconds and rest for twice as long. Once you feel ready, this ratio can move to 1:1. Pick six exercises and do them once through, four times in a row. That will give you a total workout of around 30 minutes, depending on which one you choose.

Here are a few ideas to get you started with afternoon workouts:

  • Butt kickers: Jogging in place with the back of your foot hitting your bum.
  • Alternating reverse lunges: Work up to where your knees make contact with the ground.
  • Squats or pop squats: Pop squats are where your feet leave the ground. Make sure you get all the way down in a squat position each time.
  • Skaters: Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Lift your right leg and jump to the right. Let your left leg straighten and follow as if you’re skating or rollerblading.
  • Wall sits: Make sure your bum is at a 90-degree angle with the floor.
  • High knees: Make sure they get up around your navel.

Follow the directions above and complete each for 30, 60, or 90 seconds, then rest.

woman squatting fitness
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HIIT moves with equipment

If you want to up the intensity, try doing the above timing (30, 60, 90, rest) but add some weights to the equation. There are a lot of moves you can incorporate to give an added boost of intensity. If you’re sticking with six exercises, try the following:

  • Squat with dumbbell overhead press: With hands by your sides, squat, and as you stand, lift both arms above your head, holding dumbbells parallel to each other.
  • Kettlebell swings: Grab a 5-, 10-, or 15-pound kettlebell (can be done with a dumbbell if you don’t have a kettlebell), and set feet shoulder-width apart. Bending your knees, swing the kettlebell between your legs, and thrust your hips forward, bringing the kettlebell waist-high.
  • Medicine ball bounces: Take a weighted medicine ball and slam it on the ground. As it pops up, squat and catch it.
  • Reverse lunge with lateral arm raise: Find two dumbbells between 5 and 15 pounds. Place one in each hand and lunge backward with your right leg, lifting your left arm out laterally in front of you. Come back to standing position and repeat on the opposite side.
  • Wall sit with bicep curls: Make sure you are following the directions above, and as you “sit,” alternate 5- to 15-pound dumbbells in a bicep curl on each side.

Don’t forget to fuel your workout

Squeezing in the routines above can’t come at the expense of actually having lunch. If you work in an office, bring in something from home that you can eat at your desk or heat up quickly in the microwave after your workout. If you have access to a kitchen or work from home, take time and make a protein shake with fruit, whey protein, and milk or almond milk. The protein will help fuel muscle recovery and keep you feeling full long after your workout.

Feel free to alternate or swap out any of the exercises above with each other to keep your routine different every day. That way, you’ll be working different muscles and won’t get bored. There are also tons of HIIT apps on the market that offer exercise moves as well as a timer, so you don’t have to watch the clock during your workout. HIIT workouts are fun, simple, and will get you the results you’re looking for before you know it.

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