Workout While You Work: Easy Desk Exercises to Try on the Job

Desk Exercises

Just because you’re stuck at desk all day doesn’t mean fitness is off the table.

In fact, you can tone that core, sculpt your arms, and strengthen those legs without ever leaving your office. You just have to rethink the way you use your space, and that includes making the most of that chair and even the very walls around you.

And no, we’re not even going to ask you to get one of those fancy inflatable balls or to tuck a miniature elliptical under your workspace. Or to use a treadmill desk. Though that’s a pretty good way to stay fit at work, truth be told.

Leg exercises

Leg exercises

The simplest way to work out your legs while seated at a desk is simply to raise your legs until they are parallel with the floor repeatedly, holding them raised for a moment during each repetition. This seated leg raise is only going to be effective if you do dozens of reps during the day, however, so instead consider these other three exercises that require you to move only a few inches from your desk.

  • Chair Squat
    Pretty simple stuff: stand up from your chair, and then lower yourself again (no hands!) until your thighs brush the seat. Straighten up. Repeat until it burns.
  • Calf Lift
    Also simple. Stand up. Now lift yourself up onto your tip toes, then back down, then up, then down. Stand on one leg while doing these lifts to go into beast mode.
  • Wall Sit
    Yes, these are miserable. But they are also highly effective at building quads. They’re also good for cubicles, as they’re silent. Rest your back against the wall with your legs bent to a ninety degree angle. Keep your shoulders brushing the wall, and hands off your knees. Much pain. Much gain.

Arm exercises

Wrist exercise

You can always bring some dumbbells into the office and do curls while seated at your desk, or even just lift those heavy, arcane law books you find around the office. But for a few more subtle ways to get in an arm work out at work, try these techniques.

  • Grip Strength Trainer
    Invest the fifteen or so bucks in a decent grip training tool and you can squeeze away all day, fighting through stress and building a stronger grasp and mighty forearms.
  • Water Bottle Deltoid Lift
    Hold a full water bottle straight out to the side of your torso parallel to the ground and move your hand around in small, rapid circles. Seem easy? Do it for a minute without stopping. Now two. Also try holding your arm out in front of your body and doing the same.
  • Tricep Dips
    You know what a dip is, right? Great. Do a bunch on the edge of your chair, going as low as you can without strain. Use the edge of your desk if you need a slightly easier exercise.

Core training

Core training

A solid core is the bedrock of all other fitness, so don’t neglect to exercise yours. And don’t forget to file those expense reports, either. Hey, you can do both at the same time! Here are a few ways.

  • Seated Plank
    Sit near the edge of your chair, and now lean back about 30 degrees, keeping your torso straight. Feel that tension in your lower back and abs? Aw yeah.
  • Shadow Jump Rope
    You don’t need a rope to get the benefits of jumping rope. Just pantomime the action, keeping your stomach taut while doing so. Skip this one in an office with an open floorpan.
  • Knee Lifts
    Slide toward the end of the chair, lightly stabilize yourself with your hands, and lift your knees up toward your chest. You can do one leg at a time if need be, but lifting both simultaneously is better workout.