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 active 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 throughout the day you can work out your entire body in short bouts. Yes, by doing office 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.
Bro, do you even desksercise?
You will for sure - all your muscle groups with your own body weight. Here’s why!
It's as easy as ABC. There’s no gearing or warming up for long hours - you just do it (thanks Nike). Plus, you work out whenever you need a break from work and actually manage to stay active. Actually, you can even do it while actively participating in a conference call.
Another reason desk exercises are becoming a huge trend is that you never leave your workspace. Somethin' all of us lazy leather-butted ninny muggins are pretty good at these days - being lazy working for long periods. In fact, sometimes you'll even remain sitting at your desk while doing the moves.
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 sitting at your desk for extended periods - high blood pressure, bad blood circulation, chronic pain, muscle atrophy, etc.
On top, it works your entire body. Muscle groups worked? Well, shoulders, backs, legs, feet, you name it… - so you stay as hot as a blowtorch (sexy, that is), get the blood circulating, and lose weight. 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 these desk exercises…
We crafted your office 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 moves. E.g first day - legs, second day - chest, third day - the other muscle groups, and so forth.
This way we’re keeping it simple and under control - and by the end of the week, you’ll hit all your muscle groups like a serious (but still quirky) professional.
If you're more of a desk yoga or chair yoga type, that's ok and welcomed. This is a tad more intense but still very manageable. Here’s a short manual to help you stick to exercises throughout the week:
- Engage in exercise every 30-45 minutes
- Go for 30 seconds on each exercise displayed for the day
- Repeat the moves 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 spiral the positive effect and get you in the best shape and health of your work life! In fact, it may even get you that Pinterest muscle physique you never really wanted.
Weekly Programme With Exercises
36 Office Exercises to Work Your Full Body (Demo Included)
Continue exercising where you left off...
- Monday: Chest, shoulder, triceps
- Tuesday: Back, biceps, forearms
- Wednesday: Legs, butt, hips
- Thursday: Abs, neck
- Friday: Chest, back
Monday: Chest, Shoulder & Triceps
If you spend time in front of your screen throughout the day you're likely acquainted with slouching. The slight lean-forward position tends to shorten our chest muscle groups, curve our rotator cuffs inwards, and stiffen our necks. To prevent the bad aftereffects, ensure a good posture - and strengthen the muscles - here are a few drills to integrate into your daily routine.
Exercise #1: Shoulder Rolls (Warm-up)
Pull out your office chair, sit upright with your back in a straight line as a starting position.
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.
Exercise #2: Yogic Hands Up
Thinking about reversing the effects of poor posture? This is your move-grove.
Again, sit tall in your desk chair, palms facing the screen. Straighten up your upper body and make a slight bend forward. 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.
Exercise #3: Bedded/Floored Push-ups
Btw if you like working out in bed, we got a workout for you!
Bed, linoleum, carpet, quarc, twister mat - any surface will do for pushup exercises. If you can't keep it up for 30 seconds, make sure you rest in the plank position without falling flat on the ground. Remember, squeeze those buttocks, hands shoulder-width apart or wider, and focus to stimulate your chest. This one will work out many muscle groups simultaneously.
Exercise #4: Desk Dips / Chair Dips
Sit in your office chair or stability ball, feet hip-width apart, hands rested on the edge of your table. Good. Now, let your arms and chest help you get up without relying too much on your quad strength. Slowly lower yourself down. Looks easy? Repeat the chair dips for at least 20 times and think again.
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. Sit tall in your desk chair, or stand at your standing desks, arms straight in front, palms open pointed ↙↘. Rotate inside and clench your fist strong before VROOOOMing your sweetheart with both hands.
Exercise #6: Squeezed Coffee Raises
Have access to your favorite mug? We know you do.
Stand up with feet parallel to one another. Lift one up - the mug that is - 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 or a water bottle high up above your forehead. Bring it back so you feel the roasted scent again. Repeat.
Exercise #7: Magic Sprinkles
OK, there's little hands involved in this one but only because we pay respect to your heavy typing.
Go ahead, back in a straight line, 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.
Exercise #8: Triceps Dips the Easy Way
Stand up and move about 40 inches away from your desk. Lean forward, core tight, arms rested at the edge of your 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! 😂
Tuesday - Back , Biceps & Forearms (+ Stretches)
Slouching also adds pressure on your thoracolumbar fascia - a membrane that extends 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 along different muscle groups.
Here are the exercises to help you counter these issues.
#9: Cross-leg Twist (Warm-up)
Sit upright on a chair with your feet flat and firmly planted on the floor and back straight.
Raise your left leg up and rest your shin on the knee of your right leg outward. 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 - palm facing outward - while your right elbow (or hand) rests on one knee.
Hold this position for 30 seconds. Once you're through, slowly twist back to the center before repeating with the opposite side of your body - opposite elbow on the other knee.
#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 other arm meets the opposite knee. Hold for a few seconds before releasing back to the starting position.
#11: Over-top Flights
Let's work out the muscles that ensure a good posture.
Pull your chair close to your workstation. Lean over the table 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.
#12: Extended Bicep Curls
This exercise works arm muscle groups!
Sit up with your 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. You can do these drills while seated or at standing desks. Right arm, left arm! Keep it up - push this one for a full minute!
#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. Both usual and standing desks will do here!
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.
#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!
#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. One arm, and then the other arm. Squeeze in and out like you're pumping an air mattress.
Btw don't forget some wrist stretches afterward. Or even better, do the wrist stretches when curling your hands outward.
Wednesday - Legs, Butt & Hips
The leg day... it made you grimace in your chair, didn't it? Well, you need to work your lower body as much as you need water to stay hydrated. A day sitting for prolonged periods hurts your lower body. It 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.
#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. Let's get the blood flowing!
#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. Btw try not to use the swivel chair. As you come to a stand, make waist circles to activate those hip flexors. Bend your knees, lowering yourself back into the chair.
Whenever you grow tired of plain-old sitting up and down, a wall sit is a nice alternative.
#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, shoulders forward. Take a large step back with one leg and lower down your back knee into a reverse lunge, keeping your arms firmly planted. Push through your front leg to bring yourself back up to starting position. Make sure your knee stays in line with your ankle throughout the exercise. Switch legs with each rep.
If you're aching in knee pain, support your weight by leaning against the chair.
#19: Backward Leg Raises
To perform the standing glute raises - or hinge forward - begin by standing next to a steady chair. Keeping your core tight, and one knee straight, 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.
#20: Lateral 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 exercise. 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!
#21: Swimmer Kicks
Sitting finally! Don't celebrate too soon though! If you like kicking exercises, make sure you head over to our Front Kicking Exercises piece.
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. Both legs should be parallel to the floor. Now kick your feet back and forth in an alternating fashion for 20-30 seconds before taking a breather.
#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 one leg 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.
#23: Calf Raises
Feeling like taking a lunch break? One more, we promise. 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.
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 - you need a solid ore strength; working out your neck could be the solution for momentary pain or head-forward fixity, 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, try abdominal exercises, and do heel lifts too. C'mon, you can take up this challenge!
#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 shoulder level - parallel to the floor - 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!
#25: Coffee Rotations
Mmm, we're about to roast this one up! Oh, and you can do this one as a standing exercise!
Raise your cup or water bottle 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. Always switch sides. Feel the deep stretch in your hips, abs, and lower back. Keep on doing it!
#26: Knee Raises
Let's build that core strength!
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.
#27: Around the World Neck Rolls
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. Slowly roll your neck clockwise, making sure to keep your chin level and moving in a smooth circle. Rotate your head one way then switch sides and rotate counterclockwise. Repeat these circular motions for a full minute.
#28: Hand-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 to your starting head position. Repeat the side-to-side sequence for 30 seconds on each side for 5-10 times.
#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 - one foot parallel to the ground, another's toes pointing to the ceiling. Repeat the exercise for 40-50 seconds.
#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 - one foot facing the other. Now clasp them together and back again. Repeat both motions for a full minute.
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.
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, from the left leg to the right leg.
Exercise #33: Table Push Ups
Place your hands shoulder-width apart in a push-up position. Lean against the edge of the desk and slowly bend your arms to lower yourself downward - your chest touching curbs or just above the surface. Do a desk push-up until your arms are straight again. If you feel like you should add some weight, slowly lower yourself. Repeat this motion 10-15 times for 1 set.
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 narrow, 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.
Exercise #35: Incline Pushup Arm Raised
Start with your feet shoulder-width apart, hands resting on the edge of your desk (not a standing desk).
It's the same as the desk push-ups you just did - one small twist though. From the top (starting) position instead to slowly lower 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.
Exercise #36: Tentacle Swing Releases
Let's get goofy with the last exercise on our list!
Stand up, arms completely loose on the sides, legs shoulder width apart. 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.
What does the data say about physical activity breaks?
- Active work breaks boost mental and physical health
- Exercise breathers can provide a back pain relief
- Desk pump breaks can help you get rid of afternoon slump
- An increase in physical activity during the day may protect against cancer and heart disease
Got through a full week with the above exercises? Way to go, Fitbit must have noticed! If you ever wish to step it up, consider joining plenty of Wakeout users or tell your co-workers about it! 👇
While you're still hot, check out these 6 wall exercises!
Improve your sedentary habits in 7 days.
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