When you work behind a desk and lift on a regular basis, then you’re constantly fighting what feels like a never ending battle. And that battle is the prevention of poor posture and decline of fitness due to tight or weak areas on the body.
At BarBend HQ, we’re constantly working to fight the inevitable all-day sitting that comes with writing 8+ hours a day, but it gets tough. This has led us to create a mini full body workout that requires only a resistance band. A band is easy to store and bring with you to your desk, so we thought it would be useful to share what we’ve been doing.
We try to do this full circuit once or twice a day with varied rest times — we take rest as we need it for each movement. Obviously, there are multiple movements, tempos, sets, and reps you can do, but this is an example of what we do on a regular basis, and we hope it helps out, or gives you some ideas to create your own routine.
1. Resistance Band Pull Through
Attach your cable to an anchored base (we use the leg of a table), and adjust feet slightly wider than shoulder width. Grab the band, 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 hyper extension of the lower back).
- Sets: 3
- Reps: 12
*Tip: For those with 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.
2. Squat + Low Single-Arm Row
Now that we’ve opened the hips up slightly, we like to perform a slightly more compound movement. For the next movement, we perform an air squat (somewhat supported by the band) with a low row (band attached to a stable anchor).
Perform an air squat. We found sitting at parallel, or just below, is best at maintaining a strong torso positioning during the row. Grab the cable similar to a row, and move through the movement keeping a stable core and using the lat to retract.
- Sets: 3
- Reps: 10 (each side)
*Tip: Ease into the depth of your squat and try to sit upright to the best of your abilities. We like to have a slightly higher torso angle than we would in a regular/Chinese DB row.
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3. Squat + Single-Arm Shoulder Press
Once we’ve done a near full depth squat and row, we progress into an even more dynamic movement. The next exercise is a full squat with a single-arm overhead press.
Place your band under both feet and hold the other end in a somewhat relaxed rack position (elbow under at an angle, so you can press). 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.
- Sets: 3
- Reps: 8 (each side)
*Tip: For the press, think bicep to ear, but be wary of how close you bring the band in. Press in a directly upward, slightly back fashion with a neutral grip to resist smacking yourself in the face (trust us on this one).
4. Low-to-High Cable Chop + Pallof Press
Now that we’ve hit performed a few full body oriented movements, we’re going to focus on the core (an often weak area from sitting). We’re going to perform a low-to-high cable chop with a Pallof press.
To begin, maintain a soft knee bend and grab the anchored band with your arms at near full extension (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.
Once you’ve hit the upward diagonal posture, bring your arms to the center of your body with a 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.
- Sets: 3
- Reps: 10
*Tip: This movement shouldn’t be performed with very high tension. It’s most important that you’re moving by torso initiation and not shoulder.
5. Banded Good Morning
After our core based movement, we’re going to move back to our hip hinge and back. The next movement will be a banded good morning, which will be performed at a high volume.
To begin, place the band under both feet and around the neck (you can hold it to take pressure off the upper traps/neck). Similar to the pull through, we’ll extend the hips back with a soft knee bend, and a rigid torso.
You’ll progress through the movement until you feel your torso begin to drop, back round, and erectors disengage. Once you’ve hit that point, then you’ll return to your starting position with your hips completing the exercise. My advice: stop a little short before you normally round to ensure you maintain a rigid torso position.
- Sets: 3
- Reps: 15
*Tip: Pay close attention to the depth you’re able to achieve. If you find your chest dropping and your torso becoming rounded, then you’ve gone too far.
[Band featured in article is an EliteFTS 41 inch Pro Mini Resistance Band.]
6. Plank + Banded Kick Back
This is possibly the toughest movement in the circuit, so we recommend trying it without the band at first, or simplifying it to just a plank and kick back separately.
To begin, place the band around the wrists and one foot while in a plank position. Once you’ve created tension and found your plank’s posture, kick back the banded foot, so your leg is nearly parallel to the floor (squeezing the glute).
Try your best 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 back individually.
- Sets: 3
- Reps: 6 (each side)
*Tip: Be weary of sagging hips and lower back hyper extension when performing the banded kick back. If you’re doing either, then simplify the movement without resistance, or perform one movement at a time (40 sec plank, then 6 kick backs).
7. Bicep Curl + Tricep Extension 1:2 (Aka Pre-Meeting Exercise)
We couldn’t do a full office workout without some bro-esque movements. The final exercise is a bicep curl to tricep extension. These are best performed before meetings, or presentations when you need to look vascular and pumped for your co-workers.
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 (for those like me with a little tendonitis), you’ll begin to initiate two tricep extensions (keep the elbow tight to the body).
Once you’ve hit both tricep 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.
- Sets: 3
- Reps: 6:12 (each side, curl:extension ratio)
*Tip: You can do a 1:1 ratio and increase reps if you’d like. I like the 1:2 because the tricep is the dominant upper arm muscle. Also, keep the elbow in to avoid the band getting caught when moving between movements. Lastly, you can perform these one at a time if you choose to do so.
This is an example of a circuit we do on a regular basis. You can take these movements and combine them into your own circuit, or add more specific exercises as you need them. What’s most important is that you’re moving during the day and fighting the posture problems that come with a sedentary lifestyle.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. Always perform movements at your own risk and level of fitness. If any of these movements create pain or discomfort, then stop performing the exercise where pain occurs and seek a medical professional.
Editors note: This article is an op-ed. The views expressed herein and in the video are the authors and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BarBend. Claims, assertions, opinions, and quotes have been sourced exclusively by the author.