How to maximize your mid-day workout

This is the ideal lunchtime exercise routine.

For high performers, a lunch break can be the perfect window of time for a workout. Beyond its convenience, a midday sweat is a unique opportunity to optimize both body and brain.

Operating on a regular sleep schedule, we all typically experience a 3 or 4 p.m. slump in energy because our body’s wake signaling quiets but our sleep drive continues to increase, explains Alex Zimmerman, director of Equinox’s Tier X program.

If you can sneak in a workout before this period of tiredness, though, “you can potentially offset it and increase production and wakefulness,” Zimmerman says. “Exercise floods the body with hormones and excitatory neurotransmitters that allow us to power through this time.”

Of course, all lunch workouts aren’t created equal. And if your legs have been crammed under a desk since 9 a.m., you’ll have to account for that. Below, Zimmerman outlines an ideal 45-minute workout for middle-of-the-day movers. It will maximize the energy you have at this time of day, while also allowing you to transition safely from a morning of sitting to a session of sweating.

As for your actual lunch, make sure to get in a balanced meal (like these no-cook options) as soon as possible post-workout, Zimmerman suggests. Eating beforehand is optional and dependent on your goals. “The longer you are away from food before your workout, potentially the better if you’re hoping to lose fat,” he says. In other words, skip the snack. Alternatively: “If you’re trying to gain muscle, then some pre-workout nutrition (like a protein shake) is essential.”

Part I: Warm-Up (10 minutes):Foam roll. “You don’t want to go right into loading the joints and muscles, because they have become a bit stuck due to being sedentary,” says Zimmerman.

Part II: Movement Prep (15 minutes):“The below movements not only prepare your body for movement, they increase core temperature, reducing the likelihood for injury."

(1) Crab Reach [How To]

Begin with hands and feet on the ground, feet about shoulder-width apart and fingers pointed away from you. Lift your hips about an inch off the ground. Raise one arm up in front of your face so you are balancing on one hand and both feet. Press your hips up by pushing through the heels and squeezing your glutes, then extend the raised arm behind you. In the full position, the reaching arm is relaxed, not locked out, and framing the head. Return to the start to complete one rep. Perform three sets of 10 to 15 repetitions per arm, holding the stretch for three to five seconds per rep.

(2) Six-Point Hip Rock [How To]

Put hands, knees, and feet on the ground. Try to spread your knees as far as part as possible. Keeping your chest up, rock back and forth. Perform 12 reps.

(3) Step Back Lunge with Overhead Reach [How To]

Begin in standing position. Step back, keeping the leg relatively straight, and drop your back knee toward the ground. Reach up over the head, keeping the arms straight. Switch sides. Perform six reps per side.

(4) Lateral Lunge with Lateral Reach [How To]

Step out to the side, keeping the opposite leg straight. Drop down into a squat while reaching with both arms to the outside of the body of the bent leg side. Switch sides; perform six reps per side.

Part III. Full-Body Strength Exercises (20 minutes):“With 20 minutes, you can do four exercises and get all the benefits from loading your body, like increased muscle and decreased fat,” says Zimmerman. Perform 12 reps of each of the below exercises. Repeat sequence once for a total of two rounds.

(1) Landmine Front Squats [How To]

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold the free end of the bar with one hand positioned at your shoulder. Bend your hips and knees to lower into a squat. Drive out of the squat and push the barbell up and in front of your chest.

(2) Cable Chop [How To]

Begin half kneeling by a cable machine in a split stance with inside foot forward, back foot and knee just outside the front foot. Holding rope handle with both hands from high cable position, pull the outside arm across the body. Press the inside arm across the body and out. Return to the starting position by following the same movement plane.

(3) Lateral Lunge with Cable Row [How To]

Grab a low cable with the left hand, keep arm extended and feet together. Step to the right with your right foot, keeping your toes forward and your feet flat. Squat through your right hip while keeping your left leg straight. Push back to the starting position and repeat to the opposite side.

(4) Plank with Alternate Reach [How To]

Start in full or modified plank position, with palms or elbows directly under shoulders, abs engaged, legs extended behind you. Keeping shoulders down and body as still as possible, lift right arm straight in front of you up to shoulder level. Lower arm; repeat on left. Continue alternating sides while holding plank throughout.

Part IV. Intense Metabolic Activity (5 minutes):Perform Airdyne or rowing intervals. “Do two intervals (with one minute between each) of one minute at 90 percent and then one minute at 60 percent and then take a minute to cool down with some breathing exercises,” says Zimmerman.

Part V. Recovery (10 minutes): Take a contrast shower. “Alternate hot and cold water for one minute on, one minute off for 10 minutes, finishing with cold,” says Zimmerman. “This could cool your core temperature and increase recovery time.” This kind of a shower will also help you to avoid that too-flushed look before returning back to the office, he says.