When we think of exercise at work our first reactions tend to be ‘I don’t have time’. Also when most of us think of exercise, we think of people like Dolph Lundgren who are wrapping their wrists in tape and slapping on the expensive training sneakers, sweating all over and mixing elaborate protein shakes. Or we might think of any number of infomercials, promising washboard abs at only 30 minutes a day while using the latest gimmick item. (Ab Roller, anyone?)
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Does The Ab Roller Work?
We make up excuses like these to convince ourselves not to exercise at work:
“I don’t exercise at work because there’s no time.”
“I don’t exercise at work because I wouldn’t know where to start.”
“I don’t exercise at work because I’ll feel silly.”
Is this you when it comes to making excuses to exercise at work?
But, the world is moving on, the Apple Watch now reminds us to stand up every few minutes and work to get in our activity. However, instead of focusing on losing weight, why not think of adding ten pounds – under your desk. That’s right; why not pick up a pair of five-pound weights to stash at work?
There is a variety of quick exercises that can get the blood moving in just a minute. No, you’re not going to be able to squeeze in a traditional workout for an entire half hour, but something is better than nothing. Even a set or two once an hour, once or twice a morning can help you to feel like you’re doing something to get yourself on track.
Trying this tactic does limit you mostly to arm work. However, with so much of us tied to the computer day in and day out, working the triceps and biceps can help to keep muscles from getting stiff. By keeping the weight light, you’re not going to break a sweat behind your desk or strain yourself lifting more than you should. It might not sound like much, but taking a pair of five-pound weights and bending over at the waist and holding them straight out behind you for a minute will feel like much more!
Exercise At Work
Next break, try one of each of the following:
Try some traditional arm curls to start. Keeping the movement slow will force your muscles to work harder. If that means you only do a set of 3 or 5 – that’s still good. You’re up and moving! Don’t aim for a number, but concentrate on feeling the muscles working instead. Zottmans can help take things to another level by twisting your wrist slowly after you bring the weight up so that, as you lower your arm, your palm is facing down. By rotating your weight in the middle of the curl, you can work more muscles!
Don’t focus on the front of your arm and forget the back. Triceps are often neglected and you can have easy fun doing kickbacks to balance out a set of curls. With your arm close to your side, bend over slightly and straighten your arm back, keeping your elbow high. Don’t extend your arm above your back, thumb always against your side. Squeeze the arm at the back of the movement, and then lower. Again a 3-5 set of reps can be short, but beneficial.
Side Lateral Raises
With thumbs against your sides, keep elbows straight and raise your arms outward until they’re perpendicular to your shoulders (never higher!). Raise up on your tiptoes as you do the reps to engage those calves. Again, a controlled move can help you feel the burn more. I call this move ‘Pinky’s Out.’ When you master that, carefully try palms up instead! This works the shoulders the most. Give yourself 2-3 reps to start and go slowly.
Put your chair to work and simply hold the weights out in front of you while attempting to sit down. Don’t balance on your toes – keep your weight centered, so your knees stay above your feet, not in front of your feet. Before you fully sit, stand back up. Keep your balance while sitting/standing slowly and keeping those arms still is great to practice. Mastered it? Try it palms up! Using your chair will help you from doing the squat too low.
They are what they sound like: holding your weight at your side, shrug your shoulders straight up and down. Don’t roll your shoulders to avoid injury. Keep your chest out and your shoulders back as you do the movement, so you don’t fall into the trap of being hunched over. Add some toe raises for fun!
There are hammer curls. There are Zottmans with the thumb on top of the bar (very challenging!) and many others. But, these beginning moves can get you to feel like you’re taking your break and using it to benefit yourself in a whole new way. Instead of taking that ten minutes to reach for a donut, reach for the ten pounds under your desk! Even two or three of these moves a day can help you build your self-confidence towards a full workout later. Sync up these quick moves with your coffee break or your Apple Watch and comment below on your overall benefit. I’d love to hear what quick moves you like to incorporate to get the blood moving and exercising at work!