It's becoming more common for people to work through their lunch break, but this time is precious and you could use it to make a real difference to your health. Instead of staying at your desk, you could burn up to 300 calories doing a quick HIIT workout on your lunch break!
What is HIIT?
HIIT stands for High-Intensity Interval Training, a training method which involves short bursts of all-out effort exercises followed by short rest periods. The aim is to maximise your calorie burn during a short amount of time by cranking your heart rate up with tough exercises. During HIIT you should be aiming for your heart rate to be in Zone 4 or even Zone 5, breaking the anaerobic threshold.
How does HIIT work?
The reason HIIT works so effectively is that it causes what we call an ‘after burn’ effect. When you do HIIT, the intensity of the exercise causes an increased need for oxygen so we end up with an oxygen shortage. This means your body has to find more oxygen in order to recover, known as EPOC (Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption). This, in turn, boosts your metabolism and burns more calories.
How long do I need to do HIIT?
A HIIT workout doesn't need to last hours because of the intensity, so they're perfect if you're short on time. Typically, a HIIT workout will last around 20-45 minutes to give your body a chance to burn enough calories for it to be worthwhile.
Lunchtime HIIT workout routine
What’s great about HIIT is it can be done using just your body weight, which means all you need is a little bit of space. If your office is cramped, why not take this circuit outside? It’s intense enough that it will soon warm you up if it’s cold!
Before commencing a HIIT workout, be sure to warm up for 3-5 minutes. This can involve anything from jumping on the spot to star jumps, anything that will raise your heart rate and warm your muscles up so they are limber and protected from injury.
Top Tip: A lot of HIIT body weight circuits contain lots of exercises which put strain on the wrists such as planks, push-ups and mountain climbers. Be sure to prepare your joints by circling your wrists back and forth before you get stuck in.
For each of the following exercises, try 40 seconds of work and 20 seconds of rest and then repeat from the top:
- Mountain Climbers
- Push Ups
- Jumping Lunges
- High Knees
- Heel Flicks
- Frog Jumps
- Plank Up Downs
- Shadow Boxing Sit Ups
This move fires up your abs whilst keeping your heart rate high. Assume a standard push-up position and run each leg in towards your chest as though you were running off the ground as fast as you can.
Another great all over exercise, push ups can be intensified by lifting a leg, or eased up by coming down to your knees. The trick with push ups is to make sure that despite doing as many as you can at speed, you still make the full range of motion – it should look like your nose is near touching the floor.
Adding plyometrics to any move makes it far more of a challenge. Assume your lunge position sinking nice and low, then as you extend through the legs jumps as high as you can and switch legs, so you are alternating the leg you lunge off, land in a lunging position with the other leg now leading the way. These are sure to set your quads on fire, but keep pushing through and use your arms to help drive you up.
Jog on the spot bringing your knees up as high as you can in front of you, tilt your pelvis forward and lean back slightly to get more abdominal activation.
Now reverse! Jog on the spot flicking your heels up to your bottom as fast as you can to keep that heart rate up.
Start with your legs together and feet facing out, squat down allowing your knees to turn out and then explode up straightening the legs before returning to start.
Start in a slight squat, so your legs are loaded with power, then jump sideways to the left and land on your left leg, with your right leg lifted off the ground. Now jump leading with your right leg and land on the right leg, with your left leg away from the floor. Use your arms to propel you further, opposite arm to opposite leg.
Plank Up Downs
Start in a plank off your hands, keeping your bum down and shoulder blades squeezed together to ensure your spine stays in neutral alignment. Bring you right hand down to an elbow plank position and then follow it with the left, now bring the right arm back up to a hand plank and follow it with the left. Avoid looking up as it puts extra strain on the neck.
Shadow Boxing Sit Ups
Lie on you back with your knees bent ready for a sit up, but this time as you brace your abs and bring your upper body up, throw a jab and a cross, punching towards the opposite knee. This adds some extra oblique engagement and makes the exercise a little bit more of a challenge. Breathe out as you lift up and punch.
What are the benefits of HIIT?
As well as the obvious benefits of keeping you busy during your lunch break and generally more active, HIIT also boasts these benefits:
- Training anaerobically increases your VO2 max.
- HIIT is anabolic, meaning you lose weight from fat and not muscle.
- HIIT increases Human Growth Hormone by up to 450% during the first 24 hours after your workout, which repairs damaged tissue and helps build muscle and burn fat.
- Evidence suggests HIIT can actually help suppress your appetite. Research in The International Journal of Obesity found those who participated in HIIT style exercise consumed on average 200 calories less and had lower levels of ghrelin which is your hunger hormone.
So next time your lunch hour strikes, why not grab your colleagues and challenge them to this anytime, anyplace workout. Don’t forget to pack your deodorant!
Workout at work, How to workout at work, Lunchtime workout routine, HIIT workout routine, What are the benefits of HIIT, How long do I need to do HIIT?
Working full-time in an office can take its toll on your health. Sitting for 8 hours a day, colleagues bringing sweet treats and other temptations into the office, and going out for work drinks can all mean it feels impossible to be healthy. We give you all the tips and advice you need to stay healthy when you work an office job.
Workout at work
There are lots of creative ways you can workout at work without affecting your performance (or ticking off your boss!) You could go for a run or a brisk walk at lunchtime or do exercises at your desk. If you can burn more calories at work, you stand a good chance of living an overall healthier lifestyle as chances are you spend most of your day at the office.
There are a lot of reasons to workout at work and living a sedentary lifestyle by sitting at a desk all day can be very bad for you, even if you regularly exercise outside of work. Incorporating it into your day can make a huge difference to your lifestyle.
Bring homemade lunches
One of the most difficult parts of staying healthy while working an office job is all the temptation. If it's someone's birthday, you can expect cake and treats, and then there are working lunches and meetings. If you're hungry, this means you are far more likely to cave so being prepared and taking your own homemade healthy lunch and snacks will stop you over-indulging.
Don't drink your calories
One of the easiest ways to over-indulge without realising is by 'drinking your calories'. What this means is drinking juices, smoothies, sugary teas, and soft drinks throughout the day. Even supposedly healthy drinks like smoothies and diet soda are bad for your health. Try sticking to water by taking a BPA-free, reusable water bottle to work with you which can sit on your desk and remind you to stay hydrated throughout the day.
EHOH stands for Every Hour On the Hour and is an emerging fitness trend developed to combat the dangers of sitting at work and living a sedentary lifestyle.
How does EHOH work?
The average working day is 8 hours long with a one-hour lunch break. EHOH proposes that you split your one-hour lunch break into 3 10-minute breaks and 1 half-hour break so that you can get away from your desk more often and combat the health risks associated with sitting for too long. Although EHOH stands for Every Hour On the Hour, you can take your 10-minute breaks whenever suits you best. It's advisable to take a 10-minute break each hour in the morning and then the longer half-hour break in the afternoon when you need to eat lunch.
Benefits of EHOH
We all know exercise is great for your mind and body and the health benefits are almost endless, but exercising during your working day can actually improve your performance at work as well. A study by the Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine found that incorporating just 2.5 hours of exercise per week into the workday led to a noticeable reduction in absences.
5 Reasons To Do EHOH
- If you are more active you are less likely to go sick meaning fewer absences.
- Active people have more energy. Regular exercise increases energy throughout the day, meaning more energy to put in good quality work and be productive in the office.
- You will have more self-confidence. Confidence is empowering and will encourage you to push yourself and achieve more in your career.
- You will inspire your colleagues to become healthier.
- Fit people take on more leadership roles because of the many positive benefits of a lifestyle. A fit individual tends to make a good leader.
Functional training is all about movements not muscles. Instead of focusing on a muscle in isolation, functional training looks at how the muscles work together to improve the way we “function” in everyday movement.
What is Functional Movement?
Author, speaker, and pro trainer Nick Tuminello explains what is meant by functional movement. “Many personal trainers define “functional training” as exercises using three-dimensional movements or standing on unstable surfaces. Many strength coaches feel that “functional training” has to do with just getting stronger in the basic lifts. Many physical therapists and corrective exercise-oriented trainers think that “functional training” is about regaining your muscle balance and fundamental movement ability before you begin doing either 3D exercises or the basic lifts.”
In truth, functional training is a combination of all these skills. Functional training is training to improve for a purpose. What this means is that functional training will differ slightly for every individual, however there are principles of movement which mimic the way the body is built to move, and these tend to apply to almost everyone.
Functional Movement Patterns
Exercise, at its very simplest, is just movement. These movements are primal; our bodies are designed to move. There are 7 basic movement patterns, which most exercises will fall into. Practising exercises which develop and master these movement patterns will build functional strength which can be transferred into all other aspects of your life, from sport to daily function. If you watch a child, they will naturally learn these moves as they develop their range of movement.
The squat is one of our most primal movements, we are designed to be able to move in this position, which is why you will see many toddlers playing in a squat.
To complete a squat, your head should remain facing forward to keep your spine in a neutral position and you should sink your weight back into your heels and lower towards the floor. There are many arguments as to how low you should go. Your range of motion will depend on your flexibility, but it can (and should) be worked on.
The lunge is a single leg exercise, where one leg takes the lead and the second leg bends as it remains stationary. Originally we’d use this movement for functions such as stepping over obstacles or as we threw a spear to catch our dinner. Now the move is popular for building leg strength as well as to improve sports performance.
When lunging, you should keep your front knee tracking over your foot, but not in front of it. Hold your head high and make sure your back stays straight (try sticking your chest out if your shoulders arch).
The push range of movement requires you to move something away from your body, or move your body away from a force, ie the ground. We have two primary pushing movements, the vertical and horizontal push. A vertical push lifts something above your head and a horizontal press pushes it forward.
The top tip for correcting your push up is to keep your back straight and not let your chest drop; you can do this by squeezing your shoulder blades together. If you can’t keep straight, drop to your knees to make the exercise easier.
Pushups - Indoors or outdoors. Take them anywhere.
Pulling is the opposite movement to a push, bringing an object towards you. Much like with the push up we have two pulling motions, horizontal and vertical.
An example of the pull motion is a pull up. If you can’t do a full pull up you can start with negatives and work your way up.
This is where our third plane of motion gets involved and the movements become more functional. Here we involve the transverse plane.
If you think about lunging down and reaching across your body, or throwing a ball, running, or even walking, most human movement has some element of a rotation involved.
You bend your torso by hinging at the hips. This is one of the most commonly used movements; think of how many times you may bend throughout the day, to open a drawer, pick up your bag, tie your shoes.
Taking the weight through your hips, glutes, and legs is the key to lifting weight in a bent over position. This is done by keeping your low back in a neutral, to slightly arched position, as you bend over to lift an object off the ground.
Arch your back and you're prone to all sorts of injuries, in particular a herniated disk. Ouch.
Walking, jogging, running and sprinting all require a combination of movement patterns which we define as gait. This covers all our movement patterns required to keep the body in motion.
In order for our bodies to move in these particular ranges of motion, our muscles have to work together to create movement. Where bodybuilding isolates muscle groups, functional training brings them together in what we call muscle slings.
Anterior Oblique System:
External and internal oblique with the opposing leg’s adductors and intervening anterior abdominal fascia.
Posterior Oblique System:
The lat and opposing gluteus maximus.
Deep Longitudinal System:
Erectors, the innervating fascia and biceps femoris.
Glute medius and minimus and the opposing adductors of the thigh.
The systems tell us which muscles work together, and help us to analyses how to notice gaps in the sling to develop improved movement.
Anterior Oblique System
The obliques help provide stability and mobility in gait. They are both important in providing that initial stability during the stance phase of gait (running etc.) and then contribute to pulling the leg through during the swing phase. This system is important in helping the body create more stability as speed increases in activities such as sprinting, but also as important as the body tries to decelerate during change of direction.
Posterior Oblique System
This is most commonly used during gait movements where the glute max of one hip works with the lat of the opposing side to create tension in the thoracolumbar fascia. The action of these muscles along with the fascial system is thought to fight the rotation of the pelvis that would occur during gait as well as store energy to create more efficient movement.
Deep Longitudinal System
This system uses both the thoracolumbar fascia and paraspinal system to create kinetic energy above the pelvis, while the biceps femoris acts as a relay between the pelvis and leg. What is also important to note is the relationship between the biceps femoris and anterior tibialis, which creates stability and helps build as well as release kinetic energy to help more efficient movement.
The lateral system provides lateral stability. The lateral system is often used to create stability in the pelvis during walking, stepping, etc.
Squats - a pulse-raising exercise you can do anywhere
Functional Training is training for life
If you haven’t tried functional movements or training slings, try adding moves which challenge these areas into your routine to improve your training.
We've all seen the workout videos that try to encourage us to use everyday household items to help us work out. From pots and pans to the sofa, there are plenty of things you can use to complement your home workout, but here at Sundried, we've taken it one step further!
This routine amplifies your body's work using a towel, creating extra friction or tension to intensify your efforts. We also use multiple planes of motion to develop strength that improves performance not only in sport but in everyday life as we twist and turn in multiple directions without even realising it.
Training in different ways ensures you continue to progress, so challenge convention and use your towel to break a sweat, not wipe it!
Exercises using a towel
Towel Trunk Twist
Hold the towel out taut in front of you. Keeping both feet facing forward, twist from side to side as though you are looking for someone behind you.
Squat with Overhead Reach
Keeping that towel taut, squat down and reach both arms up straight above your head and as far back as your shoulders allow in one smooth motion. You're trying to warm up your shoulders through their full range of motion. We’ll be working them hard in this workout.
Squat with Towel Twist
As you squat twist your hands down towards the furthest foot and then up diagonally to the ceiling as you lift. This should look like a woodchopper motion with the towel kept taut.
Sliding Curtsey Lunges
Place your towel under one foot, this will be the one that moves. Slide back diagonally into a curtsey lunge and then drag the towel back to your start point, without it leaving the floor.
Door Pistol Squats
Wrap your towel around a door handle (make sure it's secure enough to take your weight), now take one leg out in front of you and sink down as low as you can on the other leg, this is a pistol squat. Great from improving your mobility and creating equal strength in both legs through isolation.
Reverse Plank Hamstring Curl
Come down to the floor and place your towel under your heels. Sit with your hands by your hips and then lift up into a reverse plank. Keep your body in a straight line and try not to relax your head back. Now drag your heels in towards your bum and then back out to straight. You should feel this in your abs, shoulders and hamstrings as you drag the towel.
Push Up with Arm Slide
Come into your regular push up position, with your towel underneath one hand. As you lower for a push up slide the towel hand out to your side in a straight line and drag it back in as you extend. If you need to, drop to your knees to make it easier.
Plank Star Slide
For this you need a towel under each foot. Start in your regular plank position, here you're going to be moving the opposite hand and leg. Lift one hand and twist into a side plank as you slide the opposite leg through towards the wall, making your body look like a star. As you return your hand drag your leg back and repeat on the other side.
Place one towel underneath both feet and return to your plank position. Slide your legs in towards your hands keeping your legs straight (without locking your knees) and lift your bum up into the air to perform a pike, pause at the top and slide to the start.
Pull Through Crunch
Sit on the floor and hold your towel taught between both hands above your head. Now bring your legs in as though you were performing a crunch, but as you do, bring the towel down towards your legs. Feed your legs through the gap between your legs and the towel and straighten them once the towel is held beneath your hamstrings. Curl your legs back up and pass the towel over your toes as you return to the start position. Tough.
Dorsal Raise vs V sits
Two for the price of one. Lying on your stomach start with your towel taut above your head. Lift your arms and legs to perform a dorsal raise, then keeping your towel tight, roll over onto your back. From this position fold in half, bringing your extended arms and legs together to meet in the middle for a v sit. Return to the mat and roll over to repeat your dorsal raise.
Towel Bend and Stretch
Holding you towel between both hands bend down keeping your legs straight to stretch your hamstrings and back, then rotate your shoulders and bring your taut towel behind your neck with extended arms.
Assisted Tricep Stretch
Hold the towel in one hand and extend above your head, folding at the elbow to stretch the tricep, now using the other hand grab the towel and gently tug to extend the stretch into the tricep. Repeat both sides.
Assisted Hamstring Stretch
Use your towel as a hook over your toes and gently pull the foot up towards your head to stretch your hamstring and calves. Repeat both sides.
Hold the towel tight above your head and lean towards the outside of each thigh, stretching across your obliques.
Now you may need that towel to wipe your sweat and bonus, your floor gets a good polish at the same time!
To download the Tone with a Towel workout as a take home PDF as featured in BestFit magazine click here.