Utilize Your Lunch Break

Written by Molly Ramsey
Photographs by Samantha Jean Becker

Working movement into your time away from work can increase the restorative power of that break. If you want to up your energy levels for the afternoon, strengthen your body and improve your mood, consider this weight-training circuit designed by Roper St. Francis Healthcare exercise specialist Amy Levine. “These compound movements offer a full-body workout in a short period of time, so are perfect for a lunch break,” says Levine, who notes that you can do the following moves with or without dumbbells, or even with a pair of water bottles. If you do use dumbbells, start with light to medium weight, increasing heft over time. “Begin with one set of each and, as time and strength allow, add one to two more sets.”


(Clockwise from top left) Lunges with Bicep Curls; Squat with Shoulder Press; Bent-Over Rows with Tricep Kickbacks; Calf Raises; & Chair Crunches

1. Lunges with Bicep Curls (targets quads, hamstrings, glutes, biceps): Start with feet together and hold a dumbbell in each hand by your side. Step back with your left foot into a lunge position, keeping your right knee directly above your ankle and behind your toes. At the same time, curl your hands toward your shoulders. Step back to starting position while lowering weights back to side. Repeat the same exercise on the right leg. This is one rep; repeat for 10 to 12 reps.

2. Squat with Shoulder Press (targets quads, glutes, low back, abs, shoulders, arms): Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and hold a dumbbell in each hand. Bring thedumbbells to shoulder level with palms facing forward and elbows pointing toward the floor. Move into a squat position, keeping your back straight and abs pulled in tight. As you return to start position, push dumbbells up and extend arms overhead. Lower dumbbells and repeat all for 10 to 12 reps.

3. Bent-Over Rows with Tricep Kickbacks (targets back, triceps): Start with feet together and a light dumbbell in each hand. Lean forward, bending at your hips and bend both knees slightly. Keep your back flat and extend both arms down, with the dumbbells pointing toward the floor. Lift the dumbbells to your side as you squeeze  your shoulder blades together and elbows point upward. Hold for two seconds then straighten arms until they are parallel to floor, squeezing your triceps. Hold for two seconds then bend elbows and lower arms to return to start position. Repeat for 10 to 12 reps.

4. Calf Raises (targets calves): Stand up holding onto the back of an office chair, desk or bench for support. If using weights, hold one dumbbell in the hand that is notholding onto the chair. Rise onto your toes until your heel is completely off the floor. Hold for two to three seconds then return to start. Repeat for 10 to 15 reps.

5. Chair Crunches (targets abs): Sit on the edge of a chair or bench with your back straight and feet flat on the floor. Hold onto the armrests or the front of the chair for  support. Lean back slightly until your upper back touches the chair. Keeping knees bent, lift both legs slightly, hold for two to three seconds and return  to start. Repeat for 10 to 12 reps.