Sitting all day leads to atrophy of the muscles and an increased risk of injury, especially when combined with irregular or no exercise. Uh oh! The most common symptoms of this are stiff shoulders and/or neck, a sore upper and/or lower back, tight hamstrings and hips, and weak glutes. In the worst cases, you can develop chronic pain in these areas that will take lots of attention, self-care, and physio appointments to relieve.

Good news for you, NCCA accredited Personal Trainer Tina Ahmadi and I got together to bring you a set of workouts that target problem areas for desk-sitters. This is the second of three circuits that are being released within two weeks. By next week, you’ll have your own work-from-home workout plan that addresses desk-sitting aches by strengthening your upper body, lower body, and core. Disclaimer: Neither Tina nor I, are medical professionals so we make no medical claims in this article.

“These circuits are designed to keep the body strong and functional so that sitting at a desk doesn’t become painful. Take only a short 20-30 second rest between each exercise and a 1-2 minute break before repeating the full circuit again. Aim to repeat each circuit for 3 rounds (4 if you’re up for a challenge!), or do one round of each circuit (lower, upper, and core) for a full-body blast. Doing this several times per week will help relieve desk-sitting pains and improve quality of life in general.” – Tina Ahmadi, @tonedwithtina

Lower Body

A great workday is one that isn’t ruled by your aches and pains. This workout is designed to build stronger, more powerful glutes and legs which helps to alleviate lower back pain, pain caused by tight hamstrings and hip-flexors, as well as some forms of knee pain.

1. Goblet Squats x 10 Reps
Stand hip-width apart with your hands in front of your chest. Push your hips back and lower your body down until your knees form a 90° angle. Push back up into standing and repeat.

2. Split Squats x 10 Reps (per leg)
Take a big step forward as if you are performing a lunge. Raise the heel of your back foot and slowly move your body down until the back knee is hovering above the floor. Push back up and repeat.

3. Romanian Deadlifts x 10 Reps
Stand hip-width apart with a slight bend in your knees. Push your hips back until you feel a deep stretch in the hamstrings and gluteal muscles. Push your hips forward to stand straight and repeat.

4. Glute Bridge x 15 Reps

Lie flat on your back with your knees bent and your heels flat on the ground. Push your hips up until your knees, hips, and shoulders are in a straight line. Squeeze the gluteal muscles before lowering hips back down to repeat.

5. Crab Walks x 30 Reps (15 each direction with resistance band if desired)

Place your resistance band slightly above the knees and walk laterally to the left, and then to the right. Keep your knees slightly bent throughout the movement to maintain tension in the glutes.

6. Kickbacks x 10 Reps (per leg with resistance band if desired)

Begin on all fours in a tabletop position and proceed to keep one knee bent while extending the other leg until the thigh is parallel with the ground. Squeeze your gluteal muscles at the top before lowering your leg back down. Repeat on the other side.

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Learning More About Cooling Down

When you complete a circuit such as this one, a bi-product of anaerobic respiration called lactic acid gets released into your bloodstream. A proper cool down of stretching or low-intensity aerobic exercises helps to flush your muscles of lactic acid. Without a proper cool down, the lactic acid will remain in your muscles making you more prone to soreness, delayed recovery, and increased risk of injury. For this lower-body circuit, cool down with a pigeon stretch, lying spinal twist, standing quad stretch, and hamstring and calf stretch.

Engaging in active recovery during your workdays is another great way to promote muscle recovery and an active lifestyle. Tina’s go-to recommendation is an easy trail walk through a local park in your area. You’ll find Tina frequenting Vancouver’s Deep Cove and Spirit Park locations – the views are fabulous!

This is the second of three circuits in our workout series for people who work at a desk for long periods of time. The full series includes:

  1. The Upper Body Workout Circuit for Desk-Sitting Professionals
  2. The Lower Body Workout for Work-from-Home Warriors
  3. The Core Workout for Posture Correction

Hone in on one area by completing one circuit 3-4 times as fast as you can, OR blast through the upper body, lower body, and core circuit for a full-body burn!