Fitness Friday: Office-Friendly Workouts

How to stay fit when you’re trapped at your desk.

Lately you’ve felt like a prisoner in your own cubicle. The sun is shining, the weather is warm and it’s a perfect day for taking a jog. Unfortunately, you’re stuck behind bars—space bars, that is—clacking away at reports. The real victim of this crime is your fitness; you need to get a lockdown on juggling work and exercise before you get locked into a body that’s seriously out of shape.

Time to appeal this life sentence. Try these handy at-work exercises from YMCA Honolulu personal trainers Earl Solidum and Jedd Ramos. These ingenious tone-ups take advantage of your workspace environment, turning your cell, er, cubicle, into a place to break your inner fit self free.

You’ll be guilty of getting into shape in no time.

Beat the Seat

Exercises to try from your desk chair.

Seated Knee Tucks

Hold on to your desk or chair for stability. Keep your upper body upright, then bring one knee to your chest. Repeat with the other knee. Adding a forward flexion (like bowing) will add a more intense abdominal workout. If you want to take it to the next level, bring both knees up at the same time. The key is to squeeze your stomach with every repetition.

Back Rows

Keeping your body upright and your core tight, reach forward as much as you can, then pull your arms in and squeeze your shoulder blades as hard as you can. This will strengthen your back and help prevent rounding your shoulders, which we commonly see among those who use the computer often. 

Spine Decompressions

Every few hours, it's good to decompress the spine. Take some pressure off your spine by placing your head and arms on your desk (like you’re sleeping on your desk). While keeping your hands and arms in the same position, slowly roll your chair back. You will feel a stretch on your back and spine. Doing a few minutes a day may help those with back and nerve problems; plus, it also feels great! Just make sure not to fall asleep. 

Office Supplied
Use your surroundings to try these quick-fit workouts.

For incline push-ups, place your hands firmly on the edge of your desk (about shoulder-width apart). Move your feet back from the desk, keeping arms and body straight, and lower yourself to the edge of the desk the way you’d do a prone push-up. 


Stand in front of your chair (choose a stable, non-rolling one!) with feet hip-width apart for these squats. With your weight on your heels and your knees over your ankles, lower yourself to the chair just shy of actually sitting down. Remember to tighten your abdominal muscles throughout.

Lucky enough to have a good portion of floor on your end of the cubicle maze? Take advantage of that by throwing in some planks or a few calisthenics, such as push-ups, curl-ups and sit-ups. Plyometrics (such as jump squats) and balance exercises (try balancing on one leg) are also good bets.

Tip: Keep a resistance band in your desk drawer to use for shoulder presses, seated rows and bicep curls between emails. Or, use an object such as a briefcase or a ream of paper as a makeshift weight to add to exercises for a boost in intensity.