Gym Brains > Fitness blog

The office exercise guide

Finding the time to exercise in the office can prove quite difficult. Here are a few ideas for when you can’t squeeze the gym into your schedule.

Table of contents

Arms, chest, and back
Legs and butt


How do you fit in your cardio bar sprinting around the office like a raving lunatic?

Well you’ve got two choices here. One. Do just that. Or two, try out a couple of options below that are guaranteed to help you work up a sweat. Chances are if you wear a top hat to work like the guy below, they already know that you’re not all there so you needn’t worry.

Take the stairs – Instead of taking the escalator, make things difficult for yourself by climbing the steps to the next floor instead. Aside from the obvious cardio benefits, your legs will also get a great workout, with your glutes, calves, hamstrings, and thighs all targeted. To increase the difficulty, try to skip a step or pick up the pace. If the flight of stairs are long enough, believe me when I say; you’ll feel the burn.

Chatterbox – If ever there was a good reason to leave your cubicle to chat with a co worker, it’s for the sake of exercise. If you’re boss questions it, just tell him you’re doing your bit in the fight against obesity. Sixty percent of the time, it works every time. A nice walk across the office is great for stretching those legs out, and getting the blood pumping.

Office cardio equipment – There is no shortage of great, portable gym equipment. Some are specifically designed to slot under your desk like mini cycles. Others actually come with a desk surface attached to them. Both can be great if you’re naturally gifted at multitasking. You can burn off those excess calories whilst typing up that latest report.

Park further away – The amount of times I’ve see people circling around a parking lot in the hope of a parking space opening up next to the entrance astounds me. This is so lazy and time consuming. Make a point in parking your car at the far end of the lot every day to make yourself walk further. It may not seem like much, but those burnt calories add up over time.

Cycle to work – If you live locally to your place of work, consider riding your bicycle instead.  If you can deal with the road rage drivers and no longer need stabilizers, switching to cycling could be one of your smartest decisions. Highly recommended.

Shadow boxing – We’ve all been guilty of doing some shadow boxing when no one’s looking haven’t we? No? Just me? Alright then. Try to find your inner rocky and get those punches out of your system. Pro tip: Do this in front of the bathroom mirror to avoid the baffled stares of customers and colleagues.

Arms, chest, and back

Hitting the muscles in the arms and shoulders effectively can be hard without the availability of free weights. Lets see what can be done in or around the office using what’s available to you.


Desk dips – If you have an area like a conference room where desks are readily available and spaced close enough together, try doing some desk dips between them. Just make sure the desk is strong, or you may have a repair bill coming your way! The great thing about dips is that they work all kinds of muscles in the upper body including chest, arms and shoulders.

Elevated chair push ups – Assume the push up position. Only this time, wheel a chair in behind you and raise your feet to rest on it. Slowly lower yourself down towards the ground and push back up whilst keeping your back straight. This will target your chest, back, and triceps. I hope your shoes are clean. Because you will be getting dirt on your work clothes when you sit back down if not.

Post bag deadlift – Work in the post room? Have tons of undelivered mail readily available? Stick it in a bag with handles, It’s time to do some deadlifts. This is a fantastic exercise for hitting the lower back along with other lower body muscle groups like the glutes.

The exaggerated yawn – Minus the yawning sound, make the same movement as you would from yawning and stretching. Arms stretched out wide, gradually moving them up above your head, then out in front of you.

Fist clenches – It’s important to keep your hands moving throughout the day, especially in the office environment. Take a break from stalking your crush on Facebook, and get some fist clenches done. Clench and hold for five to ten seconds, release and repeat. This is great for your forearms and grip strength.

Canteen bicep curls – Grab the largest water bottle you can find from the canteen. One will do, but two is great. Fill it all the way to the top with water. Sit at your desk with your elbow resting on your thigh and the bottle in hand. Slowly bend your arm at the elbow and raise your hand towards the shoulder to achieve a canteen bicep curl.

Staple removal – So your boss has dumped stacks of stapled paperwork on your desk to shred? See this as an opportunity to give your wrist and forearms a great workout. Get the staple remover from the stationary cupboard and pick out those staples with pleasure.

Shrugs – Raise your shoulders up towards your head, near ear level. Hold them there for a second or two, and slowly lower them back down. Repeat for as many repetitions as you can handle. Do not, I repeat DO NOT, do this exercise when your boss is asking you questions. The ‘I dunno’ look doesn’t do you any favors. Trust me, I know.

Wall leaning – You find yourself waiting for the photocopier to finish printing several thousand pictures of your bottom ready for circulation. What do you do whilst you wait? Wall leaning of course! Find a solid wall nearby and face it. Begin falling towards it but catch yourself with your arms on the wall. Slowly push yourself back up to standing position.


There are several things you can do to replace your fat pack with a six pack in the office. Find some time to do these core exercises and you’re golden.


Crunches – The crunch involves laying down on the floor near your desk, elbows on your thighs, then using your abs to slowly bring your chest towards a sitting position. You don’t want to come all the way up either. Try to hold your position about halfway up ensuring the core muscles are tight and holding the weight. This is a simple, yet effective way to target the abdominal muscles with no need of equipment.

Seated curls – Take a seat in your cubicle, cross your arms and ensure that your back is straight. Contract your abs and gradually move your shoulders towards your thighs.

Desk chair swivel – If you’re blessed with having swivel chair, you can get creative and use the twisting motion to your benefit. Position your hand on the edge of the desk and twist from one side to the other at various intervals throughout the day. Oil up that chair before you start doing this to reduce any squeaky noises! Don’t be that guy.

Ab clench – Take a couple of deep breaths, squeeze and hold the abs for a number of seconds. Rinse and repeat. The great thing about this workout is that it can be done almost anywhere. Sitting, standing, the more you do it, the stronger and tighter the ab muscles become. Consistency is key here.

Legs and butt

Tone up your legs and bum using some of the exercises below.


Butt clenching – Whilst sitting at the desk, squeeze your glute muscles inwards to gradually raise the level at which you are seated. Clench them and hold position for a set amount of time, we recommend five to ten seconds for each repetition. Then release.

Lunges – Need to attend a disciplinary meeting at human resources on the other side of the office? Walk on over there but place your strides further apart and lunge forward. With each step you should alternate legs.

Standing kickback – Stand up and balance on one leg while standing up straight.  Lift the opposite leg backwards and away from your body all the while maintaining a straight leg. Can be done almost anywhere, doesn’t take up any space, and will certainly help you tone your butt.

Squat sits – With your chair still behind you, stand up at your desk. Squat down again near to seating level and hold the position for a moment. Then ease yourself back up to a standing position. Repeat for five to ten repetitions, every time you return to your seat from meetings and breaks.

Chair leg extensions – Whilst seated, extend your left leg below the knee upwards so that it’s inline, or close to your hip. At the top of the movement try to hold it up there for as long as you can, then gradually come back down. Do the same with your right and repeat. Starting out, try five to ten repetitions on each leg.

Calf raises – Position yourself in front of your desk and begin to raise your heels off the ground, then gradually lower them back down. Start out with 3 sets of ten repetitions and work your way up.

Standing toe raises – Whilst standing, keep your heels firmly planted to the ground and lift your toes. A great workout for times you are stuck attending to a customer at the front desk.