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?
Talk to anyone in the fitness industry and they'll tell you that training your core is vital for your health and well-being. Follow this abs workout to get the stomach you've always wanted while strengthening your core.
Our workout starts with a truly classic abs exercise for toning your stomach. This exercise will target the entire abdominal area and work deep into the core. To perform crunches properly and with good technique, start by lying flat on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Place your fingers by your temples with your elbows kept back. Keep your chin tucked in to protect your spine and prevent you from over-stretching your neck. Using your stomach muscles (not your shoulders or back) lift your shoulders and upper back off the floor.
The difference between crunches and sit-ups is that crunches are a much smaller movement. With sit-ups, you fully sit up so that your entire back is off the floor. With crunches, you are just doing micro movements for a more intense burn. For an added benefit, pause at the top of the movement and then lower back down very slowly.
Perform continuous reps for 30 seconds as a beginner, 45 for an intermediate exerciser, and 60 seconds if you're more advanced.
Plank Shoulder Taps
This exercise truly targets deep into the core to strengthen your abs muscles and improve your overall fitness and conditioning. Start in a press up position with your hands directly underneath your shoulders and your back flat and straight. Slowly pick up one hand and touch it to the opposite shoulder. Squeeze your abs as you put it back down and then do the same with the other hand. As you swap hands be sure not to rock your hips; keep them as still as possible. This exercise should be quite challenging so take it slow and make it count.
Beginners should do this movement continuously for 30 seconds, 45 for the intermediate, and 60 seconds for the more advanced.
If you thought you'd be able to make it through this workout without having to do the dreaded plank, you'd be wrong! This exercise is a classic for a reason as it works the core and abs very effectively and is a great way to test your core strength. To perform the plank properly and with best technique, place your forearms flat on the floor with your hands flat, palms facing up. Keep your elbows directly under your shoulders at all times and place your feet hip-width apart. Keep your head in line with your spine but allow your eyes to look at the floor (or close your eyes if it helps!) Squeeze your belly button upwards towards your spine to keep your core tight.
Hold for as long as you can! 60 seconds is an excellent milestone.
This cardio exercise is not one many people would associate with being a core exercise, but when done correctly it can really work your abs and help you target this area effectively.
To perform kettlebell swings, start with your feet wider than hip width, holding the kettlebell by the horns with both hands. Bend your knees and start to swing the kettlebell between your legs. As you straighten your legs, swing the kettlebell up to shoulder height. You can swing it higher than this, but this is a safe and effective height for most exercisers. As the bell swings up, squeeze your core as tight as you can. As it starts to swing back down, don't let it drag your shoulders down with it. Instead, keep your shoulders up and your chest proud, looking up and ahead of you.
A beginner will do well to perform this exercise for 30 seconds, intermediate 45, advanced 60 seconds. 4kg-8kg is a good weight range for a beginner.
Read more about the benefits of the kettlebell swing
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.
The shoulders are not usually a part of the body that people focus on when trying to lose weight or tone up, but having shapely shoulders can do wonders for your overall physique. Try this shoulder workout to sculpt and tone.
Seated Military Press
The military press, otherwise known as the overhead press or strict press, is the flagship shoulder exercise as it is a compound movement working all parts of your shoulders and as such will feature as the first exercise in any good shoulder workout. This variation on a classic will take the burn to the next level and will really test your limits. Your shoulders are completely isolated so there's nowhere to hide and no way to get away from the burn.
How to perform
If you have a partner to hand you the bar, you can do this exercise anywhere. If you are on your own, you will need to sit under a weights rack so that you can rest the bar above you.
- Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you and your back straight.
- Hold the bar close to your chest at chin height with both hands.
- As you exhale, push the bar up above your head until your arms are straight.
- As you inhale, slowly and with control lower the bar back down to chin height. That's 1 rep. Try to complete 10-12.
Because you are sitting on the floor, your legs and core will not be able to assist your shoulders and as such this is a completely isolating exercise, highlighting all weakness and really resting your strength. Start with a light weight until you increase your strength. It's meant to be tough!
Leaning Dumbbell Raise
This is a single-arm exercise which will target the deltoids and give shape and tone to the sides of your shoulders. Again, it is a highly isolating exercise and so will burn intensely but give great results.
How to perform
You will need to find something sturdy capable of holding your full weight that you can hold and lean away from. Any equipment bolted to the wall of the gym should work for this.
- Hold something study with one hand, with your feet together and close to the structure, lean your body until your arm is straight.
- With a dumbbell in the other hand, raise your arm from your side to shoulder height and back down again. That's 1 rep. Complete 10 on each arm.
- Complete all your reps on one arm before changing to the other.
Front Raise With Steering Wheel
You may well have done front raises at the gym before as they are very simple, easy to do, and yield great results. That's why we are taking it to another level by adding the 'steering wheel' movement to ramp up the burn. Take this exercise slowly to maximise results.
How to perform
- Stand up straight with your feet hip width apart and hold a plate like a steering wheel with both hands in front of you.
- Slowly lift the plate up until it reaches shoulder height.
- Hold the plate there and twist it slowly like you would a steering wheel.
- After a few twists, slowly lower the plate back down again. That's 1 rep. Try for 10-12.
If you're looking to mix up your workout routine and get real results, then this CrossFit workout is for you. Get ready for some serious sweat but also all the fun that a good CrossFit WOD is famous for.
Will CrossFit make you bulky?
This WOD features a few barbell complexes and lifting some serious iron but some women might worry that this sort of workout will make them 'bulky' and 'manly'. Quite the opposite is true; CrossFit is the perfect balance of cardio and weights and you'll burn a lot of calories doing this workout. The only thing that will make you bulky is eating more calories than you burn, so this workout should actually help make you leaner and more athletic.
Will CrossFit get you in shape?
Wanting to 'get in shape' is a very broad term and isn't really a good goal to have. When setting fitness goals, it's important to have a solid goal in mind with a time frame and that is measurable and realistic. Rather than saying "I want to get in shape", you should instead say "I want to be able to deadlift 100kg/220lbs within 6 months and lose 5kg". This goal is much more realistic and is also measurable and has a time frame.
In this vein, it's impossible to say whether CrossFit will 'get you in shape' as this is such a vague question. What CrossFit will do is improve your cardiovascular fitness, lung capacity, and with the right diet could also help you lose weight and burn fat thereby improving your physique.
Which CrossFit shoes are the best?
Before you start this CrossFit workout for women, you need to make sure you have the correct and best shoes for CrossFit. As there are so many different movements and complexes in a CrossFit workout, you need shoes that are versatile and have a sturdy sole for heavy lifts while also being flexible and comfortable enough for running and jumping.
You can read more on the difference between CrossFit shoes and training shoes to help you decide which shoes will be best for you. We highly recommend investing in a pair of CrossFit specific shoes like the Nike Metcon shoes or Reebok Nano shoes.
CrossFit Workout For Women – WOD – Workout Of The Day
This WOD takes the form of Tabata which is a type of high intensity interval training (HIIT). You will perform each exercise for 20 seconds and then rest for 10 seconds before moving straight onto the next exercise. There are 8 exercises in total meaning this WOD will last only 4 minutes – but the benefits will last a lifetime!
- Deadlifts – beginners use 40kg, intermediates use 60kg, advanced use 80kg
- Inverted rows
- Chin ups (assisted if necessary)
- Kettlebell swings – beginners use 8kg, intermediates use 12kg, advanced use 16kg
- Front squats – beginners use 30kg, intermediates use 50kg, advanced use 60kg
- Thrusters – beginners use 10kg, intermediates use 20kg, advanced use 30kg
- Overhead press – beginners use 10kg, intermediates use 20kg, advanced use 30kg