30-Minute Lunch-Hour Workouts That Won't Turn You Into a Sweaty Mess

Having a job in the real world is hard. Instead of filling your lunch hour with recess and processed sugar, you’re faced with the realities of overloaded schedules and nutrition labels telling you that everything you eat is terrible.

To bring a little bit of recess back into your schedule, Barry’s Bootcamp trainer Bradley Seidenglanz recommended some of the best workouts you can squeeze in during lunch, without having to squeeze out your shirt before returning to your desk. Sure, there may be some droplets here and there, but nothing a quick paper towel rubdown in the bathroom can’t fix -- and if you don’t even have 30 minutes, you can always shorten the number of sets.

1. Chest, triceps & ab blast

For a little upper- and lower-body action, perform each exercise for one minute. Finish five sets of 60-second intervals, with one minute of recovery in between each set.

  • Wide-grip push-ups: Push-ups are one of the best full-body exercises you can do without equipment (that’s why they’re so freakin’ hard!). For wide-grip push-ups, start with your hands on the floor, palms facing down -- about 6in wider than your shoulders. With your legs straight and abdominals tight, bend your elbows and let your chest sink to the floor before pressing yourself back up. Can’t pump out push-ups for a full minute? Hold a plank if you get tired.
  • Triceps dips: Start with the heels of your palms on a bench, chair, or elevated, stable surface. With your weight pressing into your palms, keep your elbows tight to your body, bending them as your butt drops to the floor. Let your shoulders get parallel with your elbows before pressing back up. That’s one rep! Keep your legs straight at first, but as fatigue sets in (because it will), you can bend your knees and bring your feet closer to your body.
  • High-plank spider: OK, this exercise sounds like something you have to do while dangling from the ceiling, but it won’t leave you hanging -- just sore. Start in a push-up position with your palms on the floor, arms straight, back flat, and abdominals tight. Slowly bring your right knee to meet the left elbow (or as close as you can get it). Return to your original starting position before repeating the motion on your right side. Keep your abdominals tight, and get ready to feel the burn in your obliques!
  • Bench press, elbows to floor: You can do this pectoral workout while lying on the floor. On your back, hold dumbbells (choose your own weight) straight up above your chest, palms facing away from your head, knuckles facing your face. Slowly bend the elbows towards the floor and control the drop, keeping your dumbbells about 6in wider than your chest. Once the triceps and backside of your upper arm meet the floor, press dumbbells back up so your arms are straight.
  • Dual-arm tricep kickbacks: Start off holding a heavy dumbbell in each hand, with your knees bent slightly. Push your butt back, tuck your pelvis, and let the chest drop so you are nearly horizontal with the floor -- without rounding your back. Lift your elbows up by your side, keeping a 90-degree bend at the elbow joint between your upper arm and forearm. Exercising control, push the dumbbells back until your forearm is horizontal with the floor, and the height of your hand is level with your elbow. Return to starting position, and repeat!
back exercise dumbbell
Bojan Milinkov/Shutterstock

2. Back, biceps & abs

Target your upper body and core with this 30-minute superset. Complete five rounds of this workout, performing each exercise for one minute, followed by one minute of rest.

  • Dual-arm biceps curls: With a dumbbell in each hand, stand tall with your abdominals contracted. Let your arms hang, keep your upper arm still, and lift your hands toward your shoulders about 6in while bending your elbow. Then, start to bring your hands back down to your sides, eventually straightening the arms. That’s one rep.
  • Dual-arm bent-over rows: Again, take hold of those dumbbells. Bend your knees and soften the legs to assume a half-squat hold. Keep your chest slightly pulled back, your butt pushed back, and pelvis tucked in, then bring your elbows straight up, bending them more and more as your dumbbells moved towards your chest.
  • Seated crunches: Mix up the classic crunch by sitting on a bench, chair, or something elevated. Grab the sides of your bench with your hands, and straighten your legs so that they are horizontal to the floor. Feel that? Simultaneously, let your back lower to the floor (but make sure you keep it straight!). Once you're as horizontal as you possibly can be, bring your knees toward your chest and lift your back at the same time -- there you go, you’re crunching!
  • Alternating hammer curls: Yes, it’s hammer time! This movement is similar to the dual-arm biceps curls, except how you grip your weights: keep your palms, and the inside part of your hands, facing your body, then follow the same form as your first exercise.
  • Rear delt flys: Start in a half-squat hold, with dumbbells in hands. Keep your chest slightly pulled back, your butt pushed back, and your pelvis tucked. Begin to lift the dumbbells backwards, pinching your shoulder blades and keeping your elbows slightly bent. Once the dumbbells align with your body laterally, release them and return to your starting position.

3. Legs & butt

Perform each exercise for one minute, followed by one minute recovery. That’s one set! Finish five.

  • Goblet squats: Unfortunately, these aren’t the goblets you’ll see on Game of Thrones. Grab a dumbbell and hold the majority of the weight in the heels of your palms. With your legs slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and your toes pointed outwards at a 45-degree angle, keep the weight in your heels and the dumbbell close to your sternum as you lower yourself into a squat. Return to standing position for one rep, done!
  • Alternating bodyweight lunges: These are your standard, no-frills lunges: start standing, with your feet shoulder-width apart. Keep your left foot planted, and step out with your right foot as far forward as possible, bending the knee (without allowing your knee to extend further than your toe!) until it hovers just over the floor. Return to standing position and switch sides.
  • Sumo squats: This movement is honestly just a funny-looking squat. Begin standing, with your legs about 12 to 18in wider than your shoulders, and toes pointed out. Keeping your weight in your heels, bend your knees, drop your butt, and squat. Stand to finish one rep.
  • Glute bridges: This weirdly erotic-looking exercise starts off with you lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Keeping your arms on the ground, lift your pelvis up into the air, allowing your torso to follow without taking your shoulders off the ground. You’ll feel it.
  • Squat jumps: You already know how to do a squat from the first movement in this circuit -- now take away the goblet and add a jump. After lowering into the squat position, explode up, transferring weight from your heels to the balls of your feet. Land softly before immediately dropping into your next rep.

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Erin Kelly is a writer, runner, and triathlete living in New York City who believes breathing heavy from eating fast counts as a lunch-hour workout. Follow her on Twitter at @erinkellysays.