The pandemic shifted many workouts to require less equipment and be more time-efficient due to reduced gym availability and opting to workout at home. Thanks to your New Years’ fitness resolution, wherever you’re choosing to stay active, it’s likely you’re noticing the benefits of your hard work: better sleep, improved metabolism, and better posture with fewer aches when at your desk working to name a few.

NCCA accredited Personal Trainer Tina Ahmadi and I collaborated to bring you three exercise circuits designed to strengthen a body that sits at a desk all day. We’ll release them over the course of the next two weeks so that by the end of it, you’ll have your own workout plan that benefits your work-from-home lifestyle. 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 the circuit for 3 rounds (4 if you’re up for a challenge!). Doing this several times per week will help relieve desk-sitting pains and improve quality of life in general.” – Tina Ahmadi, @tonedwithtina

Upper Body

Let’s reduce some of that pain and stiffness in your upper back, shoulders, and neck. Strengthening your upper body helps you to maintain good posture over long working hours so that you can spend less time being distracted by aches, and more time getting important stuff done!

1. Bicep Curls x 10 Reps
With dumbbells in hand, stand hip-width apart with arms relaxed down the side of the body. Bend your elbows up so that dumbbells approach the shoulders, then slowly lower back down and repeat.

2. Shoulder Press x 10 Reps
Stand hip-width apart and raise upper arms so that elbows are in line with shoulders and dumbbells are at ear level. Push the dumbbells upward until arms are fully extended, and then lower the dumbbells back down and repeat.

3. Bent Over Rows x 10 Reps
Stand hip-width apart with your arms hanging vertically, then push your hips back until your core and your legs are at a 45° angle. Pull your arms up until elbows are in line with your spine, squeeze, then lower your arms back down to repeat.

4. Tricep Dips x 10 Reps
Sit on a chair with your legs hip-width apart and place your palms face down on the chair with your fingers pointing forwards. With your arms fully extended, move your torso forward and slowly bend elbows down until you reach a 90° angle. Push back up and repeat.

5. Wide Grip Push-ups x 10 Reps
Start in a full plank position with arms placed slightly wider than shoulder-width. Slowly lower your body down until your chest is hovering just above the floor. Push your body back up to a full plank position and repeat.

6. Supermans x 10 Reps (slow and controlled)
Lay flat on your stomach with your arms and legs fully extended. Simultaneously bring your arms and legs up above head-level, squeeze, and slowly lower back down to repeat.

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Cool Down

Some gentle neck and shoulder circles, as well as some back, tricep, and shoulder stretches, will leave you feeling refreshed after this circuit. You can also use a foam roller both pre- and post-workout to reduce inflammation and stimulate muscle recovery.
A good upper body circuit stretch will also help maintain joint flexibility despite the sedentary nature of a desk job from home.

Alongside regular strength-focused exercises, taking frequent breaks to move during your workday further supports you in living an active, healthy lifestyle. My favorite break is going for a short, brisk winter walk with a hot coffee in hand and a good podcast in my earbuds.

This is the first 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!