We heard it a gazillion hundred and twenty times… working a desk job and staying fit don’t go along. You come home drained from work and what, you’re supposed to work out now?

We get it, it’s a sound argument. Only it’s not. Plus, there is a big, fat BUT that comes along with it.

For one, you can stay fit even if you work 9 to 9 P.M. You see, we‘ve been gulping down the wrong narrative. Workouts don’t have to take a huge portion of your schedule. In fact, they don’t even have to be that hard to keep your fitness at enviable levels. If you do it smartly (or let us plan it out for you) you can work out your entire body in seamless sequences. Yes, by doing desk exercises. Don’t laugh just yet.

Another thing about work fatigue… It’s probably not your job that’s using up your battery life. It’s your seated butt and stress mixed with improper nutrition. Imagine the irony - if you were a little more active throughout your day, you’d feel physically and mentally more capable to take on the world. Or working out. Or working more. Or whatever your schedule is serving you.

Head straight to the desk exercises!↓

Bro, do you even desk-exercise?

You will for sure. Here’s why!

It's as easy as ABC. There’s no gearing or warming up - you just do it (thanks Nike). Plus, you work out whenever you need a break from work.

Another reason at-the-desk exercises come easy is that you never leave your workspace. Somethin' all of us lazy cottonbutted ninny muggins are pretty good at these days - being lazy working.

Oh, there is another WHY that will keep you hot for weeks.

This is not just a list of exercises. It’s your weekly plan that counterattacks the downsides of a sedentary lifestyle. On top, it works your entire body - shoulders, backs, legs, feet, you name it… - so you stay as hot as a blowtorch (sexy, that is). This workout routine gives you something to bop along each day of your work week without wasting a single minute of your time.

Before you wiggle along…

We crafted your desk workout plan with a 5-day split approach. Something commonly found in gyms. Btw don’t fret, please, we’re not taking it as serious as gyms hustlers do.

Each day you'll “hit” a different muscle group and focus only on a small set of exercises. E.g first day - legs, second day - chest, and so forth.

This way we’re keeping it simple and under control - and by the end of the week, you’ll hit your entire body like a serious (but still quirky) professional.

Here’s a short manual to help you stick to a weekly plan:

  1. Engage in exercise every 30-45 minutes
  2. Go for 30 seconds on each exercise displayed for the day
  3. Repeat the exercises in each session during the day

It’s as simple as that.

What’s best - by the end of the work day you’ll probably score about 8-10 solid sessions. If it’s your leg day, for example, you’ll end up doing over 150 squats minimum in a single day. All while you’re just taking breaks from work and not even sweating! Say what?

We hope you’re as pumped as we are right now! Go, go, go - let’s see if volume can get you in the best shape and health of your work life!!!

Weekly Exercise Break Programme

36 Desk Exercises to Work Your Full Body at the Desk

Continue where you left off...

Monday: Chest, Shoulder & Triceps

If you spend time in front of your screen you're likely acquainted with slouching. The slight lean-forward position tends to shorten our chest muscles, curve our rotator cuffs inwards, and stiffen our necks. To prevent the bad aftereffects - and strengthen the muscles - engage in these 8 exercises.

Exercise #1: Shoulder Rolls (Warm-up)

Pull out your office chair, sit upright and get ready to engage your upper body. The point of this first warm-up drill is to make circular movements. Start by flexing shoulder blades, and slowly transition to shoulders up, forward, down, and back again.

0:00
/

Exercise #2: Yogic Shoulders

Again, sit tall at the edge of your desk, palms facing the screen. Start from a hands-up position, police-arrest style. Slowly bring both of your hands up straight and back again at the initial pose. Now, keep your 90-degree elbow curve fixed and let your elbows touch by slowly rotating your palms inwards - facing your well... face.

0:00
/

Exercise #3: Floored Push-ups

Bed, linoleum, carpet, quarc, twister mat - any surface will do as long as you do pushups. If you can't keep it up for 30 seconds, make sure you rest in plank position without falling flat on the ground. Remember, squeeze those buttocks and focus to stimulate your chest.

0:00
/

Exercise #4: Desk Dips

Sit in your office chair or stability ball, feet hip width apart, hands rested on the edge of your desk. Good. Now, let your arms and chest help you get up without relying too much on your quad strength. Looks easy? Repeat the motion for at least 20 times and think again.

0:00
/

Exercise #5: Front Hand Clenches

Picture feeling happy for seeing your motorcycle for the first time in a decade - how would you grab the handlebars? Something like this for sure. Arms straight in front, palms open pointed ↙↘. Rotate inside and clench your fist strong before VROOOOMing your sweetheart with both hands.

0:00
/

Exercise #6: Squeezed Coffee Raises

Have access to your favorite mug? We know you do. Lift one up - the sturdy one please - and bring it close to your chest. Very good. Put pressure with your hands (not so much to break the porcelain) enough to feel your chest muscles flexing.

Move on to straighten your arms - chest still strong - and lift the cup high up above your forehead. Bring it back so you feel the roasted scent again. Repeat.

0:00
/

Exercise #7: Magic Sprinkles

OK, there's little hands involved in this one but only because we pay respect to your heavy typing. Goa ahead and spread your wings sideways. Just hold for 30 seconds up to a minute - it's that simple. Move wrists and fingers to let those carpal tunnels breathe.

0:00
/

Exercise #8: Desk Triceps Extensions

Stand up, move about 40 inches away from your desk. Lean forward, arms rested at the desk. This easy exercise is all about your triceps so keep your whole body fixated except for your elbows. Bend your arms until your head reaches the table and back again. P.S this one won't work with standing desks, folks! 😂

0:00
/

Tuesday - Back, Biceps & Forearms

Slouching also adds pressure on your thoracolumbar fascia - a membrane that stretches throughout your lower back. But that's just a part of the issue. Typing and hovering - as a bonus - stiffen your hands and that sets you up to feel the pain somewhere along the line.

Exercise #9: Cross-leg Twist (Warm-up)

Sit on a chair with your feet firmly planted on the floor and back straight.

Raise your left leg up and rest your shin on the knee of your right leg. Place the palm of your right hand on the other knee - the one resting and hanging above the ground. Now, twist slowly to the left while breathing deeply, engaging your core to maximize the stretch of your spine. Your left hand should reach as far as you can withstand.

Hold this position for 30 seconds and then slowly twist back to the center before repeating with the opposite side of your body

0:00
/

Exercise #10: Elbow Bow Twists

Remain in a comfy seated position on your chair. Pull your arms behind your head and clasp your hands together. Slowly begin to lower your torso forward, reaching your knees.

As you lean into the stretch, rotate your torso so that the opposite arm meets the opposite knee. Hold for a few seconds before releasing back to the starting position.

0:00
/

Exercise #11: Over-desk Flights

Pull your chair close to your desk. Lean over the desk edges from your waist so you have a close-up view of your desk clutter or keyboard dust. Good!

Continue by lifting your elbows up toward the ceiling, away from your torso, while having your upper arms slightly below shoulder level (palms facing the desk). You'll know you're doing it right if you feel your shoulder blades squeezing. Now - without ever releasing the shoulder blade pressure - move your hands above your head so your toes almost touch the laptop lids.

0:00
/

Exercise #12: Extended Bicep Curls

Sit up with feet wherever you want them! Stretch out your hands in front of you and make fists like you're holding onto a rope. Now, curl the imaginary weight toward your shoulders and focus on contracting the biceps muscle. Keep it up - push this one for a full minute!

0:00
/

Exercise #13: Book Chops

It's as fun as it sounds. You're not chopping your books though, instead, we'll put them to good purpose. Take two books (the heavier, the better) and hold each one in your hands. Now, imagine you're slicing your afternoon fatigue, each time bringing the books close to your shoulders and back again.

0:00
/

Exercise #14: Wrist Flexion

Start by stretching your arms on the desk in front of you, palms facing up. Take hold of a pen with a nice firm grasp. Bend your wrist inward toward your chest and hold. Oh yes, looks simple but you feel it in your forearms don't you?
Release and repeat!

0:00
/

Exercise #15: Pen Pumps

Don't drop the pen yet! In fact, find another one so you can work both hands simultaneously.

Rotate your hands so your palms face the desk. Grip the pen only by using your fingers with your thumb stretched out on the side. Now, curl the pen inward so your nails touch the roots of your thumb. Squeeze in and out like you're pumping an air mattress.

0:00
/

Wednesday - Legs, Butt & Hips

The leg day... it made you grimace in your chair, didn't it? Well, you need it as much as you need water to stay hydrated. Sitting for prolonged periods flexes your hips making them shorter over time. It also weakens your large leg and bum muscles which in turn affects your stability and capacity to avoid injuries.

Exercise #16: Activator Runs (Warm-up)

Remain in the comfort of your chair (isn't this great?). Do this - just as if you were running - moving your arms back and forth.. Yes, your legs too - tap your toes against the floor like it's lava.

0:00
/

Exercise #17: Squatting Hip Circles

Begin in a seated position with your feet flat on the ground and arms supported at the waist.

Lift yourself up all the way out of your chair, pushing through your feet. As you come to a stand, make waist circles to loosen up those hips. Bend your knees, lowering yourself back into the chair.

0:00
/

Exercise #18: Chair Reverse Lunges

Begin in a standing position near a sturdy chair or desk. Position yourself so that your arms are resting on the armchair. Take a large step back with one leg and lower down into a reverse lunge, keeping your arms firmly planted. Push through your front foot to bring yourself back up to starting position. Make sure your knee stays in line with your ankle throughout the movement. Switch legs with each rep.

0:00
/

Exercise #19: Backward Leg Raises

To perform the standing glute raises, begin by standing next to a steady chair. Keeping your core tight, lift one leg straight up behind you, squeezing your glutes at the top of the movement before slowly lowering it back down. Switch legs and repeat this exercise for 10-15 reps before stopping.

0:00
/

Exercise #20: Lateral Leg Raises

Again, seek support in your chair. Keeping your hands on the chair, raise one leg out to the side with toes pointed forward throughout the movement. Lower back down before you switch to your other leg. Again, maybe you can push through this one for a full minute. Go for it!

0:00
/

Exercise #21: Swimmer Kicks

Sitting finally! Don't celebrate too soon though!

Begin by sitting on an office chair with your legs straight out in front of you, hands relaxed on the sides. Keeping your lower back straight and core engaged, lift both feet off the ground with your toes pointing at the desk. Now kick your feet back and forth in an alternating fashion for 20-30 seconds before taking a breather.

0:00
/

Exercise #22: Knee Outward Circles

Make sure you move away from your desk for this one. You'll need some space.

Sit comfortably, knees bent (regular sitting position), hands relaxed on the sides. Lift your right foot off the ground and make a circular motion with your knee. Bring the foot up and all the way to the side. You'll feel this one nice and deep in your hips and groin. After 30 seconds switch over to your left leg.

0:00
/

Exercise #23: Calf Raises

To do standing calf raises, begin by standing flat on your feet, toes pointing forward. Lift both heels off the ground, and hold at the most upright position with knees slightly bent. Hold this pose for five seconds before returning to starting position.

0:00
/

Thursday - Abs, Feet & Neck

Large muscle groups - but also those you forget about - need you to step up to counter the effects of a sedentary lifestyle. You need to step away from the hurtful 90-degree sitting angle during your workday.

Abs become overly inactive after prolonged sitting; working out your neck could be the solution for momentary pain, but also some chronic issues; lastly, don't let those feet be forgotten! Planter fascia usually becomes tight and loses range of motion--so step out of a routine every now and then to keep that balance. Move your head around, work those abs, and do heel lifts too. C'mon, you can take up this challenge!

Exercise #24: Side Hammer Fists (Warm-up)

Step away from your workstation for a moment. Find some free space. Time for some funrobics!

Lift both of your elbows up to a shoulder level and fixate so they are furthest apart. Clench your fists.  Bend the knees slightly. Good, now extend your left arm like you're punching against the wall behind you. Do the same parallel movement with your leg - extend it sideways (laterally) so your toe taps the ground. Left side, right side, left side, right side... That's it!

0:00
/

Exercise #25: Coffee Rotations

Mmm, we're about to roast this one up! Raise your cup and bring it close to your chest. Now, imagine your colleagues sitting on both sides. If you were to politely offer a sip, how'd you do it?

Rotate your torso at the hip level from left to right. Feel the deep stretch in your hips, abs, and lower back. Keep on doing it!

0:00
/

Exercise #26: Knee Raises

Sit up straight in your chair with your hands flat on the table in front. Pick up both of your feet so they levitate above the floor. Now, lift both knees up to your lower chest before returning them to the starting position. Repeat the motion without ever letting your feet bang down on the ground.

0:00
/

Exercise #27: Around the World

YouTube, algorithms, social media, your work - talk about going global without leaving the comfort of your chair. Now, it's time your neck joins in.

Start by sitting up straight in a chair with your chin held level and your shoulders relaxed. Gently rotate your head clockwise, making sure to keep your chin level and moving in a smooth circle. Rotate your head one way then reverse direction and rotate counterclockwise. Repeat this sequence for a full minute.

0:00
/

Exercise #28: Arm-resisted Rotations

Remain in the same position. Gently place the palm of your right hand on the side of your forehead. Now, add pressure with your hand so much that it wins against your head's counterforce. In other words, your head should resist the pushing palm.

Once your chin is just above your right shoulder, push back with your hand all the way to your starting head position. Repeat the side-to-side sequence for 30 seconds on each side for 5-10 times.

0:00
/

Exercise #29: Alternating Foot Spears

Remember, our feet belong to our bodies as well.

Raise your feet above the ground. Pull one foot close to your shin while simultaneously pushing the other one downward. Up and down, up and down. Repeat the movement for 40-50 seconds.

0:00
/

Exercise #30: Weird Foot Applause

Yes, you can clasp your feet too.

To start, lift your feet off the ground so they are up and hip-width apart. Bring your feet together so the toe roots touch. Back again. This time before bringing your feet together, twist your ankles inwards. The soles of your feet should be glancing at one another. Now clasp them together and back again. Repeat both motions for a full minute.

0:00
/

Friday - Chest & Back


The bigger the muscle group - and more affected by your sitting - the more you should focus on it, right? There's no nullifying that chair-butt relationship - if changing profession is out of the question - so let's keep fighting the beast!

So, to take good care of your back and chest we'll do a few extra repetitions for good measure. For an added effect make sure you flex your chest and pelvis while doing bent-over or inclined exercises. This will stimulate your muscles in ways that your daily build-up won't. Plus, before you know it, you'll be looking seriously hot!

Exercise #31: Pressing Peeks (Warm-up)

We'll start in a seated position again. Gently bring your palms together in a prayer pose, hands in front of your face.

Just like you would if you wanted to look at your screen (not the hands), move your head sideways. While at it, move your 🙏🏽 in the opposite direction of your head. The trick to getting your chest involved is to press your palms strongly. It might seem a feeble motion, but bear in mind this is how Shaolin masters get their chests ripped.

0:00
/

Exercise #32: Circle Bows (Warm-up)

OK, let's stand up. We'll start this one off by placing feet shoulder-width apart and hands behind the back. From the straight stance lean with your chest toward your right knee (forward and to the side). From the lowest point that you're able to reach comfortably, slide sideways to your left knee and pull yourself back up to an original stance. Repeat by starting from the other side.

0:00
/

Exercise #33: Desk Pushups

Place your hands shoulder-width apart on the edge of the desk and slowly bend your arms to lower yourself downward - your chest touching desk or just above the surface. Push up until your arms are straight again. If you feel like you should add some weight, go slow. Repeat this motion 10-15 times for 1 set.

0:00
/

Exercise #34: Leg-crossed Lean

Sit in a chair and hold your arms straight above your head, with your fingertips pointed to the ceiling. Cross one leg over the other, so that one is firmly rooted to the ground.

Keeping your arms straight, bend forward from the waist until you feel your back muscles activating. Hold for 1-2 seconds before slowly going back to the starting position. Repeat this 10-15 times for a complete set.

0:00
/

Exercise #35: Desk Pushup Arm Raised

It's the same as the pushups you just did - one small twist though. From the top (starting) position instead of going for a pushup, raise one of your arms straight up so it aligns with the position of your torso. Place it back on the desk, and proceed to a pushup. Next rep - another arm. Keep it up for as long as possible under a minute.

0:00
/

Exercise #36: Tentacle Swing Releases

Let's get goofy with the last exercise on our list!

Stand up, arms completely loose on the sides. Sharply rotate your torso from the waist so that those loose arms flutter at your sides. Flap away and enjoy an ending of a physically active week.

0:00
/

Got through a full week of exercise? Way to go! If you ever wish to step it up, consider downloading our Wakeout app below!

Share this post

Download Wakeout

Named App of the Year by Apple in 2020, Wakeout helps thousands of people prevent sedentary-related illnessess every day. Comes with a growing library of over 2,200 creative ways to move.

Download on the App Store