Yes, Office Workouts Are a Thing — Here’s What You Need to Know

Break up your work day with quality movement for more energy and focus.

There’s never a bad time to move. Well, maybe that’s not entirely true, but more movement is usually not a bad thing. And considering that the average workday is eight hours long, many folks may not be moving as often as they should. It can be draining and even painful to sit at your desk — be it at your office or home — for hours on end, which is why an office workout is encouraged. Yes, it may seem a little weird, but banging out a quick full-body workout at your office (or your home gym if you work at home) can leave you feeling refreshed, energized, and will result in more calories burned over time. 

The seven-move full-body circuit below requires a resistance band and outlines options for bodyweight movements. Because we know not everyone owns a band. Try to do this full circuit once or twice a day with varied rest times — take rest as you need it for each movement. When you’re looking for an extra challenge, slow your reps way down to increase time under tension. You’ll be surprised by the strength you can pack on with nothing but your body weight, a resistance band, and some office space.

Office Workouts

Here are two workouts for you to do at your office. The first requires a resistance band, and the second calls for no equipment. Both of these workouts focus on your pulling muscles (to combat the common hunched-over position most people work in) and speed. After all, you are at work. 

Editor’s note: The content on BarBend is meant to be informative in nature, but it shouldn’t take the place of advice and/or supervision from a medical professional. The opinions and articles on this site are not intended for use as diagnosis, prevention, and/or treatment of health problems. Speak with your physician if you have any concerns.

Resistance Band Office Workout

  • Resistance Band Pull-Through: 3 x 12
  • Squat + Low Single-Arm Row: 3 x 10 (each side)
  • Squat + Single-Arm Shoulder Press: 3 x 8 (each side)
  • Low-to-High Cable Chop + Pallof Press: 3 x 10 (each side)
  • Banded Good Morning: 3 x 15
  • Plank + Banded Kick Back: 3 x 6 (each side)
  • Bicep Curl + Tricep Extension 1:2: 3 x 6-12 (per side, curl:extension ratio)

Bodyweight Band Office Workout

Resistance Band Pull Through

How to Do the Resistance Band Pull Through

Anchor your resistance band to something sturdy (for example, the leg of a table), and adjust your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width. Grab the band through your legs, hinge at the hips, and maintain a rigid posture (similar to your torso’s position in a deadlift setup). Let your chest drop with your arms maintaining a stiff position between your legs while hinging at the hips — try to feel a stretch in the posterior chain. Next, stand upright using your glutes to drive the hips through (resist hyperextension of the lower back). 

If you have weak or excessively tight hips, progressively move into extension during your first set. For example, do partial movements until your hips feel comfortable fully opening up into extension.

Bodyweight Option

Do standard glute bridges on the floor. You’ll still target your glutes, with a secondary emphasis on your hamstrings, but you won’t need a resistance band for it. Can’t get onto the floor? Brace your hands on your chair like you were about to do a dip, grind your heels into the ground, and thrust your hips up by squeezing your glutes.

Squat + Low Single-Arm Row

How to Do the Squat + Low Single-Arm Row

Loop a band to a stable anchor like a table or desk leg. Hold the band in one hand, walk back until it’s taut, and perform a bodyweight squat. Pause at parallel or just below. Now, row the band, maintaining a stable core, until your elbow is past your torso. 

Bodyweight Option

To work your quads and your back, perform a reverse lunge followed by a scapular pushup. The scap pushup will train your body to focus on the “pulling” aspect of pushing movements, and the lunges will give replicate the unilateral aspect that the single-arm rows have.

Squat + Single-Arm Shoulder Press

  • Engage your core by resisting rotation while performing a squat with an offset weight from the band.
  • Target asymmetries in your legs by offsetting the load during the squat portion of the movement.

How to Do the Squat + Single-Arm Shoulder Press

Stand in the middle of your looped band and hold the other end in a front rack position. Perform a full squat with your normal squat stance, and as you reach the top, initiate the shoulder press to create a fluid squat and press. This is similar to a thruster.

Bodyweight Option

You can reap the benefits of this compound flow by moving from a bodyweight split squat into a pike push-up. Once you come back to standing from your split squat, adjust your feet so they’re in place to transition into a pike push-up, emphasizing your shoulders with the vertical-esque press. A pike push-up is when you assume a standard plank position but then hike your hips up, almost as if you’re performing a downward dog. You’ll then perform a standard push-up, with most of the load taxing your shoulders. 

Low-to-High Cable Chop + Pallof Press

  • Challenge your core to resist rotation in multiple directions.
  • Train your body to maintain square hips even when weights and limbs are being (literally) pulled in different directions.
  • Improve your ability to brace under pressure.

How to Do the Low-To-High Cable Chop + Pallof Press

Softly bend your knees and grab the anchored band with your arms near full extension (a very slight bend is okay). You’ll then perform a chopping movement by rotating the torso so your arms finish in a diagonal position across the body. Make sure to initiate this movement with the torso/obliques and not the shoulders. If you need to lessen the resistance to do this properly, then lessen the resistance.

Once you’ve hit the upward diagonal posture, bring your arms to the center of your body with 90-degree elbow flexion, and perform a single Pallof press. After the press, return to the original starting position of the low-to-high chop with your arms extended.

Bodyweight Option

From a plank position, reach under and across your body with your right arm, maintaining square hips. Try to avoid shifting your torso as you reach as far to the left as you can with good form. Then unfurl your right arm and reach it up to the sky. Reset and repeat on the opposite side.

Banded Good Morning

How to Do the Banded Good Morning

Place the band under both feet and around your neck (you can hold it with your hands to take pressure off the upper traps and neck). As with the banded pull through, extend the hips back with a soft knee bend. Maintain a rigid torso. Progress through the movement until you feel your torso begin to drop, your back starts to round, or your erectors disengage. Once you’ve hit that point, return to your starting position by moving through your hips. As soon as you’ve figured out where your back starts to round, you’ll know to stop a little short with each rep to ensure you maintain a rigid torso position.

Bodyweight Option

If you haven’t got a band (or if you can’t get comfortable in the starting position for this one), perform some single-leg Romanian deadlifts with your bodyweight instead. You’ll still have to maintain a rigid torso. It’s good practice to brace your core and engage both your glutes and hamstrings. If you’re struggling with balance, lightly touch a wall during the movement. 

Plank + Banded Kick Back

  • Enhance your comfort in performing complex movements in a single flow.
  • Improve core strength and coordination from multiple angles.

How to Do the Plank + Banded Kick Back

Place the band around your wrists and one foot while in a plank position — it should be stretched underneath your body. Once you’ve created tension and found your posture in a plank, kick back the banded foot so your leg is nearly parallel to the floor — do this by squeezing your glutes. Try to maintain even hips (don’t let one drop) and engage the glutes to create the kicking movement. If this is too difficult, then perform a plank, and kick each leg back individually. This is a complicated one, so get a feel for it without the band first. 

Throughout the movement, be wary of sagging hips and lower back extension. If you’re doing either, then simplify the movement without resistance, or perform one movement at a time (for example, 40 seconds of the plank followed by six kickbacks). 

Bodyweight Option

This one is pretty easy to translate into a bodyweight option. Perform the same steps as above but sans the band. If you perform your kickbacks very slowly, it should be challenging enough on its own. But if you really want to add an extra flare, throw in a pushup at the top, creating a spider pushup and an even more awesome workout.

Bicep Curl + Tricep Extension 1:2

  • Give you that “pump” feeling that’s sure to boost your ego throughout the workday.
  • Place extra emphasis on strengthening the long head of the tricep, which is essential for that bigger triceps growth.
  • Address the oft-existing training imbalance between the biceps and triceps with the 1:2 ratio of the exercise. 

How to Do the Bicep Curl + Tricep Extension 1:2

Place the band under your same curl/extension-sided foot, and grip it with a neutral hand positioning. Perform a hammer curl, then rock your elbow towards the sky. Once your elbow is parallel to the floor or slightly higher (especially if you have a little tendonitis), initiate two triceps extensions. Keep your elbow tight to your body and keep the movements slow and controlled. Once you’ve hit both triceps extensions, then you’ll return to the starting movement and bring the elbow back down. After the 1:2 rep ratio, repeat the curl to extension combo.

Bodyweight Option

Perform one biceps pushup (with your fingertips pointing toward your toes) for every two close-grip push-ups that you perform. That way, you’ll be maintaining the ratio in the banded version while relying on nothing but your body weight. 

The Best Exercises for Work

It’s all well and good to drop and do a bunch of burpees — but when you’re working out in the office, you may want to opt for more measured movements that won’t have you dripping in sweat within a couple of minutes. Sure, you probably want to slip into a fresh t-shirt no matter what moves you’re doing, but the more controlled the moves, the easier it’ll be for you to settle back down to your desk without the need for a full-on shower routine.

[Related: Burn Fat and Boost Your Work Capacity With Body Conditioning]

You want to select moves that best match your ultimate goals, and your objective while working out in the office is likely not to complete the entirety of your weekly workouts. Instead, you’ll focus on moves that will hone your lifting technique and leave you with a nice “pump” that’s good for your muscles and your brain. 

Think the most basic push and pull movements (with some squats and hinges thrown in for full-body impact), performed with precision, perfect form, and resistance bands for an added challenge. And in this case, it basically doesn’t mean easy — it means tried, true, and effective.

How to Create Your Own Office Workout

Before anything else, think about your goals. Are you trying to wait out rush hour by getting a full workout in your office? Or are you trying to remind yourself to stand up and move more often, committing to incorporating regular exercises at predetermined intervals? Either way, you can create effective office workouts — but the specifics of how you proceed might be a bit different.

Man performing squat

[Related: Best At-Home Bodyweight Workouts]

If you’re looking to program a full-body workout in your office, consider performing the prescribed number of reps and sets for all or most of the above exercises. You’ll perform one after another, either in supersets or with one move at a time (depending on your setup, whether you’re trying to get your heart rate up a bit more by super-setting, and how many resistance bands you have). Try to keep rest to a relative minimum — since you’re maintaining manageable rep ranges, try not to rest longer than 45-60 seconds between sets.

On the other hand, when you’re looking to intersperse resistance band exercises throughout your workday, try focusing on one or two exercises each day. Depending on your personal work rhythm and when your focus starts to drift naturally, set the alarm on your computer every 10, 15, or 30 minutes. Each time it goes off, perform a prescribed number of reps in your move of the day — for example, 10 diamond push-ups or 15 banded good mornings. Even if you only set your alarm for every half hour, an eight-hour workday will give you 240 banded good mornings or 160 diamond pushups — not too shabby, especially if you pick a different exercise each day.

Make the Most Out Of Resistance Bands

Whether you’re in the office, on the go, or in the gym, resistance bands should definitely play a key role in your training routine. Check out the following training articles to get the goods on integrating resistance bands into your programming.

Featured image: Gordoenkoff/Shutterstock