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Leg Exercises to Try on Your Lunch Break

Strengthen Your Legs Over Lunch With This 10-Minute Workout

Lunch leg workout

As I've settled into my own work-and-socialize-from-home routine, I've struggled each day to find the best way to balance my time. How can it be that during a time when it seems like all I should have is time on my hands, I still wish I had an extra hour or two each day? Sure, there are times when I'm able to devote an hour to a yoga class or toss on run-ready leggings like the UA RUSH™ Run Stamina Tights ($90) and go for a run, but there are some days I struggle to find time to move my body between video calls.

The lines between work time, free time, and fitness time blur a little more for me each day, so I decided to turn to NASM-certified personal trainer and Peloton trainer Emma Lovewell to find a happy solution for making the most out of my home time while still working up a sweat — even on the days I struggle to hit my move goal. Her advice was simple but impactful: sometimes all you need is 10 minutes to move. "Don't get overwhelmed by trying to fit in an hour-long workout," she said. "If you have 10 minutes, then you have time."

In addition to the several 10-minute options that vary from core work to meditations I found on the Peloton app, I asked Lovewell to share with me some easy leg moves I can try on my busiest (or laziest) of days when I'm doing something as simple as making my lunch or washing the dishes. She explained that in just 10 minutes, without any equipment, this leg-strengthening series can target everything from the core to the calves. Yep, even during my 30-minute lunch break.

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Calf Raises: Try while making lunch or refilling your coffee cup.

Stand with your legs either parallel or in a wider stance, which will help with your balance. Lift and lower your heels off the ground, engaging your calf muscles the entire time. To intensify the move, hold at the top of the calf raise and do three pulses at the top before coming back down. Keep your core engaged and try to isolate only the calf muscles while performing this move. Complete 10 to 12 reps for three sets.

Standard Squats: Try this move after putting your dirty dishes away.

Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and place your weight in your heels. With a neutral spine, bend your knees to lower your body into a squat position, as low as you can go without lifting your heels. Stand up and squeeze your glutes on the way up. To add a level of difficulty, try tempo changes such as going slowly on the way down and holding for four counts. Hold the bottom of the squat for another four counts before raising back up for one count to a standing position. "Adding these tempo changes in your squat adds more time under tension and requires a higher demand on stability and increases awareness on proper form," explains Lovewell. Complete eight to 10 reps for three sets.

Standing Fire Hydrant: Try this move before returning to your desk to work.

Hold onto the back of a chair or counter top for balance. Raise one leg up like you're about to step up. Hinge slightly forward at your hip while bracing your core for stability. Move the leg that is bent out to your side at a 45-degree angle. Lower it back down to its original bent position to complete one rep. Lift and lower the bent leg to feel the move in your glutes, hips, and core while working on your balance. Complete 10 to 12 reps on each side for three sets.

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