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The Ultimate Lunch-Hour Workout

Fight fat in just 18 minutes and be back at your desk before your boss even knows you're gone.

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woman carrying workout clothes in bag
Karen Pearson
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How It Works

We'll bet you your BlackBerry that this super-slimming routine is so compact you'll fit it into your 9-to-5, no problem. "These moves will rev your calorie burn and trim all your trouble zones," says celebrity trainer Juliet Kaska, owner of Zen Fitness in Los Angeles, who created this speedy gym session for FITNESS from her Nooner workout classes. There's no waiting for strength machines and no losing time between sets -- you tone certain muscles while other, just-worked ones recover. Bonus: The moves are core-centric, so no crunches are required. Still at your desk? Staying glued to your seat most of the day shuts off enzymes in your muscles that are responsible for fat burning, finds a study from the University of Missouri at Columbia. Flip through the plan, grab your gym bag, and go!

Start with one of Kaska's calorie-blasting cardio minis, then pick up a pair of 3- to 8-pound dumbbells and get to a workout area with a bench and a stability ball. Do the toning exercises in the order shown here. Try not to pause between sets -- the rest time for each muscle is already built in.

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Cardio in a Crunch

Hit the treadmill for a 10-minute interval pyramid to kick-start the fat burning and keep it humming. You'll alternate one minute at a steady pace with varying 1-minute bursts. (The plan also works for the elliptical or stairclimber.) Do the highest level you can:

Minute Speed (mph)
1 3.0
2 4.0
3 3.0
4 4.5
5 3.0
6 5.0
7 3.0
8 4.5
9 3.0
10 4.0

Calories burned = 50


Minute Speed (mph)
1 4.0
2 5.0
3 4.0
4 6.0
5 4.0
6 7.0
7 4.0
8 6.0
9 4.0
10 5.0

Calories burned = 77


Minute Speed (mph)
1 5.0
2 6.0
3 5.0
4 7.0
5 5.0
6 8.0
7 5.0
8 7.0
9 5.0
10 6.0

Calories burned = 103


*Calories burned are based on a 140-pound woman.

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Targets: Lower back, butt, and hamstrings

  • Lie facedown on a bench with legs extended in a wide V behind you, hips just above end of bench, feet flexed, toes on floor.
  • Grip bench with hands, arms extended overhead.
  • Lift both legs up in line with your torso, then bring feet together in midair.
  • Open legs back out to sides, then lower to start.
  • Do 15 reps.

Target tip: Flexing your feet engages the hamstrings even more.

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Pilates Chest Press

Targets: Chest, triceps, and abs

  • Holding a dumbbell in each hand, lie faceup on a bench and extend legs and arms straight up toward ceiling, palms facing thighs.
  • Simultaneously bend elbows 90 degrees out to the sides at shoulder level (like a goalpost) and lower legs 45 degrees toward the floor. Return to start.
  • Do 15 reps.

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Wall Squat with T-Raise

Targets: Shoulders (front, side), butt, and quads

  • Holding a dumbbell in each hand, arms by sides, palms facing forward, lean against a wall with back straight, feet hip-width apart about 2 feet from wall.
  • Bend knees and slide down wall until thighs are parallel to floor.
  • Maintaining squat, raise both arms straight out to sides at shoulder height, then bring them close together in front of chest, palms facing each other.
  • Reverse arm move to complete 1 rep.
  • Do 15 reps.

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Door Hinge with Biceps Curl

Targets: Upper back, shoulders, and biceps

  • Holding a dumbbell in each hand, stand with feet hip-width apart, back flush against a wall, and bend elbows 90 degrees, palms up and in front of body.
  • Keeping elbows tucked into waist and backs of arms on wall, bring hands out to sides as far as you can. Lower weights to thighs.
  • Curl them back to 90 degrees; return hands to start.
  • Do 15 reps.

Target tip: Squeeze your shoulder blades together behind you without arching your back.

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Yoga Tree/Lateral Lunge

Targets: Hips, butt, quads, hamstrings, and calves

  • Stand with hands on hips and bend left knee out to left side to place sole of left foot on inner thigh of right leg (tree pose).
  • Hold for 1 count, then step left foot out into a side lunge, left knee bent and aligned over ankle, toes pointing forward and right leg straight.
  • Push off with left foot to immediately return to tree pose.
  • Do 10 reps. Switch legs; repeat.

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Crab Dip

Targets: Shoulders and triceps

  • Sit on floor and place hands on floor on either side of hips, fingers forward; position feet hip-width apart in front of you, knees bent 90 degrees, feet flexed, heels on floor.
  • Press through palms to lift hips about 4 inches off floor, balancing body between heels and hands.
  • Bend elbows and lower hips toward floor until butt barely touches, then straighten arms to return to start.
  • Do 15 reps.

Target tip: Don't cheat: Keep your weight over your hands instead of your feet. It's a small move, but it works!

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Single-Leg Bridge

Targets: Butt, hamstrings, and quads

  • Sit on floor with knees bent, feet flat, and rest upper back and shoulders against a stability ball with arms slightly out to sides, fingertips lightly touching floor for balance.
  • Keeping right foot flat on floor, lift left leg and bend left knee out to side, resting left ankle on right knee.
  • Press hips up, rolling upper back on top of ball as you squeeze glutes and raise pelvis so it's level with shoulders and right knee. Hold for 1 count, then lower to complete 1 repetition.
  • Do 10 reps. Switch legs; repeat.

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Wide Row

Targets: Back and shoulders

  • Holding a dumbbell in each hand, lie facedown on a stability ball with legs straight behind you, toes on floor, and arms extended toward floor, palms facing toward feet.
  • Drive elbows up and out to the sides to bring weights near armpits.
  • Pause for 1 count, then lower to start.
  • Do 15 reps.

Target tip: The closer together your feet are, the more of your core you'll use to balance on the ball.

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Lose the Excuses

Fit in a quality workout every day -- no matter what -- with these tricks:

  • Schedule exercise into your e-mail calendar and set an hourly reminder.
  • Tote a 10-ounce gym outfit: Trinergy Double Layer tank-and-sports-bra set ($45, and Sleek Woven shorts with built-in undies ($35, for info).
  • Fuel up with 100 to 150 calories of healthy carbs an hour before working out: a banana, an apple, or a Kashi TLC bar.
  • Bring or buy lunch with the ideal 400-calorie mix of one-quarter lean protein, one-quarter whole grains, and one-half fruits or vegetables. Try greens with 3 ounces of chicken breast in a whole-grain pita; a Lean Cuisine with an orange; or a Veggie Burrito Bowl (rice, black beans, fajita veggies, lettuce, salsa, cheese) from Chipotle.

Originally published in FITNESS magazine, March 2009.

See our post-workout beauty guide for the perfect products to pack in your gym bag

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What do you think? Review this slideshow!

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12/30/2011 03:56:13 PM Report Abuse
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12/13/2011 01:41:38 PM Report Abuse
debmatteson wrote:

I tried this lunchtime workout Monday and LOVE IT! It is quick, as promised, and thorough!

3/30/2011 10:46:48 AM Report Abuse
apkrice wrote:

I don't see doing these moves on the lunch hour. This is for a gym or home. I thought it was supposed to be a "quickie" for the lunch hour. Only if your work has a gym. :(

3/28/2011 10:28:22 AM Report Abuse
krobinson16 wrote:

One day, the "Print All Slides" option will finally be fixed. However, since that's been going on for almost a year; I doubt it. Apparently, NO ONE at Fitness Magazine reads the comments. NO ONE.

2/15/2011 01:33:14 PM Report Abuse
aunt_ranne wrote:

I would love this, except I teach school, & can't leave to go to a gym. My 30 minute lunch break doesn't allow me enough time to change into exercise friendly clothes, exercise, & change back.

2/5/2011 07:47:37 AM Report Abuse
Kristen_EDITOR wrote:

Hey all: If you click on the Print icon at the top of the slideshow you'll be taken to a print-friendly version of the workout, with the option to print one or all slides. Thanks for your feedback -- we're always looking for ways to improve the site!

12/22/2010 09:27:17 AM Report Abuse
krobinson16 wrote:

There is NO ORANGE BAR!!

12/2/2010 09:53:02 AM Report Abuse
sm5653 wrote:

I wonder if anyone is even reading these comments at The issue of not being able to print all slides has come up several times and they still haven't fixed it...

11/23/2010 10:16:11 PM Report Abuse
limam11 wrote:

"Hi all -- To print, please click 'Print all slides' in the orange bar at the top. The ad will not appear on your printout." I don't see that orange bar!?

11/22/2010 10:31:11 AM Report Abuse
Wendy_EDITOR wrote:

Hi all -- To print, please click 'Print all slides' in the orange bar at the top. The ad will not appear on your printout. Thanks!

7/22/2010 12:53:05 PM Report Abuse
hschoone wrote:

As noted by others, we need a printable format

6/2/2010 11:51:25 AM Report Abuse
mjletour wrote:

I would also appreciate a printable format.

3/28/2010 10:57:04 PM Report Abuse
pdooley124 wrote:

Can the exercises also be done with a stability ball? i cannot purchase one right now.

3/24/2010 08:26:55 PM Report Abuse
dlock43609 wrote:

I should say - a printable format, without the advertisement.

3/24/2010 11:06:43 AM Report Abuse
dlock43609 wrote:

would be nice if these workouts also had a printable format.

3/24/2010 11:05:15 AM Report Abuse

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FITNESS Magazine, March 2009
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