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By Sheila Monaghan
Foregoing gym visits for long hours at the office can have very real consequences. “People who sit more have higher cholesterol, blood sugar, and triglycerides,” says Tom Holland, MS, CSCS, exercise physiologist and author of Beat the Gym. “They’re at greater risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and numerous other health issues.” But adding small exercise breaks into your otherwise sedentary day can go a long way towards keeping you fit. Sneak these ten simple moves into your nine-to-five to start.
Briefcase Upper Body Circuit
"Load your bag or briefcase up with a few heavy items," says Adam Rosante, certified trainer and founder of The People’s Bootcamp. “Knock out as many reps as possible of the following moves: bicep curls, overhead presses, tricep extensions, frontal and lateral raises and rows.”
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Foam Roll at Your Desk
If you are training or working out on the regular and aren’t yet foam rolling, it’s probably time you got started. As many athletes and gym rats have found, foam rolling is one of the best ways to increase mobility, boost recovery, and prevent injury before a workout (you can do your own standard stretching regimen after the workout). The benefits are similar to that of a massage: relieving tightness in the body by applying pressure to the muscles and working on the myofascia, the web of tissue that surrounds your muscles that can get inflamed after a workout.
Also, with products like Tiger Tail, a sort of foam-roller-on-a-stick, you can do it at your desk. Shaped like a rolling pin, the Tail can be used to work your muscles like a loaf of bread, putting as much pressure as you can handle without having to get down on the ground. Roll, repeat, and watch your sore muscles melt away.
"Remember those grip strengtheners that people used to rock in the 80’s? Keep one at your desk and use it," says Rosante. Grip strength is often overlooked, but its benefits extend well beyond a firm handshake. "Just for starters, a killer grip can help you lift heavier weights at the gym and improve your recovery time."
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Cardio intervals require nothing fancier than a stairwell. Shed your jacket and try Rosante’s mini-routine: Sprint up the steps for 30 seconds, and walk back down for 30 seconds of recovery. Repeat sequence over the day – to avoid getting too sweaty all at once – for a total of five minutes.
Isometric Chair Squats
"For the first time in many years I am actually working out of an office and do these myself," says Holland, who recommends these in-chair exercises:
Begin with an Isometric Chair Squat: Lift your butt one inch off the chair and hold for 30-60 seconds.
Single-Leg Chair Squats
Holland’s Single-Leg Chair Squats can cause some serious burn: Using one leg at a time, lift your butt off the chair one inch and sit back down, alternating legs with each rep. Perform 3 sets of 20 reps.
Pro Tip: If your office chair is on wheels, swap it out for a stationary seat lest you smack your butt on the floor.
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Seated Calf Raises
Seated Calf Raises are a subtle sculptor, so keeping your toes on the ground, says Holland, lift both your heels up, squeeze for two seconds, then lower back down. Do 3 sets of 15 reps.
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Isometric Crunch and Chair Crunch
These two core-tighteners are the perfect antidote to breakroom donuts: For the Isometric Chair Crunch, pull in your abs as if someone is about to punch you in the stomach, says Holland. Continuing to breathe, squeeze your abs for 30 to 60 seconds.
Then, perform regular Chair Crunches: Keeping knees bent to 90 degrees, lean back in your chair while lifting both feet off the ground. Pull both knees towards your chest, then return to starting position. Do 3 sets of 15 to 20 reps. For added difficulty, perform these while keeping your legs straight, Holland suggests.
Oblique Knee Lifts
The stabilizing obliques are also key to having a stronger, fitter midsection. Keeping your knees bent to 90 degrees, alternate lifting one foot off the ground while squeezing the ipsilateral oblique, Holland says. Perform 3 sets of 20 reps.
Chair Tricep Dips
Just as you would with a park bench or a box on the weight room floor, work in some tricep dips: Holding on to the armrests of your chair, lift your butt off the seat and raise your body until your arms are fully extended, then lower yourself back down. Do 3 sets of 10 to 15 reps.