Many of us have good intentions when it comes to working out in spite of being at work for 1/3 of the day. We try to get up early to squeeze in a workout before we head in to the office. We plan a stop at the gym on the way home. We might even try to see what can be done during a lunch break. How about sneaking in a workout while you’re at your desk?
Let’s face it, that’s where many of us spend much of our day, and all of those hours sitting in our desk chairs, hunched over our keyboards, are a big part of why we need the exercise in the first place. Turn that Catch 22 into the perfect time to wake up your muscles and learn how to exercise at your desk.
These Arm Exercises actually use your desk as your exercise equipment:
Place your hands under the desk, palms up, and press up as if you’re trying to lift the desk. Hold this contraction until your arms feel tired. You can do both hands at the same time, or alternate between working each arm individually.
Now place your hands on top of the desk, palms down and press as strongly as you can as if you’re pushing the desk down into the floor. Hold contraction until your arms feel tired.
Isometric Hand Press:
Sitting upright in your chair, grasp your hands together in front of your chest as if you were clapping. Firmly press them against each other, the right hand pushing to the left and the left hand pushing to the right. Hold contraction for 10 seconds before releasing. Repeat 4 times.
Lift the tops of your shoulders toward your ears and hold for 5-10 seconds
Relax and drop your shoulders low, feeling a slight stretch in your neck.
Repeat as you like.
The Wooden Leg:
Sit in your chair, back straight. Engage your stomach muscles and extend one leg out straight in front of you even with the chair height and hold for 5 seconds. Pressing through your heel, slowly raise your leg up as high as you can, and hold it again for 5 seconds. Lower to the floor and repeat the sequence 8-10 times. Follow up with your other leg.
The Wooden Leg can also be done with both legs at once:
Sit closer to the edge of your seat and place your hands on the desk for balance.
Raise both legs together as high as possible under the desk. Hold for several seconds and slowly lower back down.
Crossed Leg Resistance Lift:
Cross one ankle on top of the other.
Begin to raise your feet off the floor.
Press top leg down and resist with bottom leg – hold this contraction until muscles are tired. Release to the floor.
Repeat with opposite ankle crossed over the top.
Stand tall with back straight.
Slowly lower your body to within 1 inch of the chair, almost sitting down but not quite touching the seat.
Hold for ten seconds.
Relax and sit fully into the chair, or lift back up to standing to repeat.
Thigh Muscle Static Contraction Series:
These isometric contractions can be done with all the muscles in the thighs simply by focusing your attention on each muscle group individually.
Begin by focusing on the inner thigh muscles: Contract/squeeze the inner thighs with maximum effort, holding the contraction for 5 seconds. Relax and repeat between 10-15 times.
Next focus on the outer thigh muscles. Contract these muscles as much as you can, holding for roughly 5 seconds and release. Repeat 10-15 times.
Continue on with your hamstrings – the backs of your thighs – strongly contracting those muscles for several seconds and then releasing. Repeat 10-15 times.
For your quadriceps (the tops of your thighs), straighten your legs out in front of you and then do the contractions, holding for 5 seconds, releasing and then repeating.
These can be done periodically throughout the day.
Inner Thigh Adduction:
Choose an item that can be squeezed such as a rolled up towel or even your sweater. Sit up straight in your chair towards the edge of the seat, your abs tucked in. Be sure your feet are flat on the floor and place the item between your knees. Squeeze your knees together with maximum force, holding for several seconds before releasing. Repeat 10-15 times.
Butt and Ab Clenches:
Tighten your buttocks as strongly as you can and hold that contraction for 10 seconds. Relax your muscles. Repeat this contraction 10-15 times.
Follow with your abs:
Tighten your tummy muscles, focusing on pulling your belly button in towards your spine and your side muscles in towards the center. Hold the contraction for 10 seconds. Repeat this contraction 15 times.
Sitting Spinal Stretch:
Sit tall in your chair, abs engaged and making sure your spine is straight. Place your left hand on the desk and with your right hand grab the back of the chair and gently twist your spine and neck to the right as if you’re trying to look behind you. Try not to hold your breath. Hold the twist for 10 seconds and then gently twist back to facing forward. Repeat with your right hand on the desk and your left arm on the back of the chair, gently twisting to the left until you can see behind you. Hold for 10 seconds and then release.
Finally, even just checking in every now and then to be sure you’re sitting properly in your chair helps your back muscles stay strong. Your chair height should allow your feet to be flat on the floor with your knees and hips bent to a 90-degree angle. Your back should be straight, with the lower spine flat against the back of the chair and your chair pulled in close to the desk to avoid hunching forward.
Follow these ideas throughout the day and you can get in some great movement, and you won’t even have to lunge your way to the photocopier.