5 Short, Easy Workouts That Are Perfect For Your Lunch Break

Man stretching at his desk

Getty Images / DjordjeDjurdjevic

Between work, keeping up with the house, and carting kids to extracurricular activities, it's not easy to find time to workout. Carving out time in your busy schedule takes precision—one wrong move and your whole day could be thrown off. If that's the case, squeezing in a 10-minute workout during your lunch break might be just what you need to stay on task and meet your movement goals.

You don't need a ton of time to workout and reap the benefits. Even 10-minutes of intense physical activity on most days of the week is enough to provide cardio metabolic benefits.

The key is consistency. One study found that 10 minute workouts are as effective as 30-60 minute workouts so long as the cumulative time and intensity is the same by the end of the week.

Now that you're on board, the next step is to plan your workouts and schedule them into your week. Exercise during your lunch break with any of these quick and easy options.

Full Body 10-Minute Circuit

You can accomplish a lot in ten-minutes, including a full body workout. This total body circuit workout can be done anywhere and with no equipment—just your bodyweight. That's what makes it so great for a lunchtime workout.

If you're concerned that bodyweight workouts aren't challenging enough, don't worry—studies have shown that they're just as beneficial for physical health as combined aerobic exercise and resistance training.

Sample Full-Body Workout

Perform 4-5 rounds with no rest in between:

  • 10 squats
  • 5 push-ups (or modified push-ups)
  • 10 chair (or step) tricep presses
  • 5 lunges per side
  • 10 mountain climbers

10-Minute Interval Workout

Interval workouts are great when you're short on time and don't have a lot of equipment options. They can be tailored to fit your skillset and experience level while still providing a challenging workout. Additionally, studies show that high-intensity interval workouts are 28% better at burning fat than moderate-intensity, long-duration workouts.

The concept is fairly simple—perform 30 seconds of all-out effort of a pre-determined exercise followed by 30 seconds of easy effort or rest. Repeat the 30 second on/30 second off intervals for a total of 10 rounds, or 10 minutes.

Sample Interval Workout

Choose one of the following exercises and complete 10 minutes of 30/30 intervals:

  • Jumping jacks
  • Jump rope
  • Squats
  • Toe touches
  • Burpees
  • Push-ups
  • Jump squats

Lunch Break Workout Tips

Get the most out of your lunchtime workout with these tips:

  • Schedule your workouts the week prior.
  • Set boundaries and be transparent; let your team know you're taking your lunch break and will be working out. That way you're more inclined to workout without interruptions.
  • Don't forget to eat! The best thing about a 10-minute workout is you still have time for lunch.
  • Bring appropriate workout clothes with you as well as anything you'll need to freshen up afterwards (think body wipes, a hair brush, a sports bra, sneakers, and socks).
  • Download an interval timer app on your phone that will let you know when to work and when to rest.

Tabata Workout

Another killer workout that's perfect for your lunch break is Tabata. Studies show that Tabata training is one of the most effective high-intensity interval workouts for improving cardiovascular health and increasing fat burning potential.

More commonly performed as a 16-minute workout, you can tailor the time and workout to fit your needs. Tabata training is interval training with 20 seconds of full effort followed by 10 seconds of rest. The workouts move fast and keep you moving despite rest every 20 seconds.

Sample Tabata Workout

Perform two rounds of each exercise:

10-Minute AMRAP

AMRAP stands for "As Many Rounds As Possible" or "As Many Reps As Possible." For this workout, as many rounds as possible in 10 minutes will apply. When time is of the essence, like during your lunch break, a quick such as an AMRAP will work well. You can make AMRAPs what you wish by choosing the exercises you do in your circuits. Below is an example of an AMRAP workout.

Sample AMRAP Workout

Do as many rounds as possible in ten minutes of the following circuit.

  • 5 steps per leg, reverse lunge
  • 10 sit-ups
  • 5 squat jumps
  • 15 lying leg raises

10-Minute Resistance Band Strength Workout

Working out on your lunch break can be challenging without access to a gym. Luckily there are some relatively inexpensive and compact pieces of equipment you can get to add some diversity to your workouts. This 10-minute strength workout requires resistance bands—you can often find them online or at a local sports store.

Sample Resistance Band Workout

Perform two sets of 10-12 reps per exercise with 30 second rest in between sets.

  • Shoulder press: stand or sit with the bands under your feet. Bring the bands to the front of your body and set up at your shoulders. Press the band up above your head in a pressing motion. Carefully return to starting position.
  • Seated row: Sit on the floor with legs straight. Put a resistance band around the bottom of your feet. Grasp the resistance band with both hands and pull back; remember to keep your back straight and chest up. Focus on pulling with your back muscles.
  • Bicep curls: Stand or sit with the band under your feet. Keep your back straight and chest up. Grasp the band with both hands in an underhand position. With your arms about shoulder width apart, curl the bands in an upward motion; slowly return to the starting position.
  • Tricep kickback: Secure the band around a doorknob or desk leg. Grasp the band in front of you with one hand, step back slightly, then lean forward and bend at the hips. Pull the band back only bending at the elbow. Squeeze your tricep. Return to starting position slowly. Switch to the opposite arm.

A Word From Verywell Fit

Your lunch break is the perfect time to grab a quick workout—especially when finding the time to exercise is challenging. The key is to plan ahead and be prepared, otherwise you may end up forgoing the workout or your lunch.

Figuring out where to start is the hardest part. If you're not sure what workouts or exercises are appropriate, it may be time to speak to a professional like a qualified personal trainer who can will take into account your lifestyle, preferences, and medical necessities to help you develop a program that works for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are the benefits of short workouts?

    Short workouts mean you can benefit from exercise without a big time commitment. This is perfect for those with busy schedules who don't often have an hour or more to exercise.

  • Why should you workout during your lunch break?

    If free-time is hard to come by, your lunch break may be ideal to workout. It's a dedicated 30-60 minutes without interruptions of kids or other responsibilities that can allow you to focus on your workout. Plus, exercise releases endorphins which can put you in a good mood at work.

  • How can you balance working out and eating lunch on your lunch break?

    If you have no other time to eat then during your lunch break, you'll have to plan your workout to end with enough time for you to eat. That means being prepared and timing your workouts so you finish on time and can still enjoy your meal.

6 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Gillen JB, Martin BJ, MacInnis MJ, Skelly LE, Tarnopolsky MA, et al. (2016) Twelve Weeks of Sprint Interval Training Improves Indices of Cardiometabolic Health Similar to Traditional Endurance Training despite a Five-Fold Lower Exercise Volume and Time Commitment. PLOS ONE 11(4): e0154075 doi:journal.pone.0154075

  2. Magutah K, Patel NB, Thairu K. Effect of moderate-intensity exercise bouts lasting <10 minutes on body composition in sedentary Kenyan adults aged ≥50 yearsBMJ Open Sport Exerc Med. 2018;4(1):e000403. Published 2018 Oct 1. doi:10.1136/bmjsem-2018-000403

  3. Martins FM, de Paula Souza A, Nunes PRP, Michelin MA, Murta EFC, Resende EAMR, de Oliveira EP, Orsatti FL. High-intensity body weight training is comparable to combined training in changes in muscle mass, physical performance, inflammatory markers and metabolic health in postmenopausal women at high risk for type 2 diabetes mellitus: A randomized controlled clinical trial. Exp Gerontol. 2018 Jul 1;107:108-115. doi:10.1016/j.exger.2018.02.016

  4. Viana RB, Naves JPA, Coswig VS, de Lira CAB, Steele J, Fisher JP, Gentil P. Is interval training the magic bullet for fat loss? A systematic review and meta-analysis comparing moderate-intensity continuous training with high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Br J Sports Med. 2019 May;53(10):655-664. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2018-099928

  5. Emberts T, Porcari J, Dobers-Tein S, Steffen J, Foster C. Exercise intensity and energy expenditure of a tabata workoutJ Sports Sci Med. 2013;12(3):612-613. Published 2013 Sep 1.

  6. Craft LL, Perna FM. The Benefits of Exercise for the Clinically DepressedPrim Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry. 2004;6(3):104-111. doi:10.4088/pcc.v06n0301

By Shoshana Pritzker RD, CDN, CSSD, CISSN
Shoshana Pritzker RD, CDN is a Sports and Pediatric Dietitian, the owner of Nutrition by Shoshana, and is the author of "Carb Cycling for Weight Loss." She's been writing and creating content in the health, nutrition, and fitness space for over 15 years and is regularly featured in Oxygen Magazine, JennyCraig.com, and more.