It’s pretty simple to fit a bit of cardiovascular exercise into your workday. You might simply head out on your lunch break for a walk or run, or bike to work. But when it comes to strength training, you might be at a loss about what you can do that doesn’t require a trip to the nearest gym. No matter your age or where you are in your career, you need to take time for this important facet of fitness.
Strength training not only builds muscle -- something you’re losing at a steady rate during adulthood -- but it also helps you maintain bone mass, and even more importantly for your working life, it can help to reduce anxiety and depression and improve brain function.
If you’re like a lot of career-minded people who find it hard to fit everything in, one option is to do your strength training routine while you’re actually working. It’s totally possible to get in a full-body workout throughout the day, working your arms, legs, back and abs. And here’s more good news: you don’t have to haul in some clunky weights or bring in any special equipment to do it.
Here are some ideas for strength training, right from the comforts of your office.
Desk or Wall Pushups
To strengthen your arms, back and chest, try a few sets of pushups throughout the day. Do these when you need a minute to clear your head, or when you’re contemplating an important problem. Try them with your hands against the wall and shoulder-width apart to start out. As you get stronger, do them with your hands resting on the edge of your desk -- so long as that desk is sturdy and won’t move around with the weight of your body, of course. You might also bring in a yoga mat and do them on the floor. Do one set of 12 to 15 repetitions, three times throughout the day.
Your sturdy desk can also help you strengthen your upper back and triceps by doing sets of dips. Face away from the desk, place your hands just slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, and straighten your legs out in front of you so that your weight is on your hands, with just a bit of weight left on your feet. Then bend your elbows and lower your body downward until you feel resistance in your triceps at the backs of your arms. Try three sets of 12 to 15 reps, spread out throughout the day.
Sitting Abs Workout
When you’re sitting in your office chair, place each hand on the seat, adjacent to your thighs. Then tighten your abdominals and raise your butt off the seat just a little bit. You should feel resistance in your abs. Hold the pose for 10 seconds and then let go. Try this maneuver several times a day, or as often as you remember to do it.
Squats and Lunges
You can do squats and lunges using barbells when you’re in the gym, but you can also do them at the office using just your own body weight. When you’re on the phone during the workday, put your caller on speaker and crank out a set of squats. Start with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width, press your hips and butt backwards, and then bend at the knees as low as you can go, or until your tailbone is near the height of your knees. Tighten your core as you come back up, and repeat 10 to 12 times.
Lunges are a little harder to pull off when you’re on a call, since it might be obvious that you’re straining up and down. If you’re on a conference call in which you don’t have to do much talking, however, it just might work. To do lunges, stand with your feet together, and then step forward with one foot, lowering the back knee toward the floor. Tighten your core as you press back upward to a standing position, and then repeat again with the same leg 10 to12 times.
When you start looking around, you could use a host of items in your office as a set of "dumbbells." Try doing biceps curls with a heavy book or ream of printer paper, for example, or use your heavy stapler to do triceps kickbacks.
By breaking these tasks up throughout the day, you’ll have gotten in a strength training workout before you know it.