Pain Free Working

How to Build Your Own Workout Routine for the Office

Working in an office setting often means prolonged periods of sitting and limited opportunities for physical activity. However, incorporating a workout routine into your office life is not only feasible but also essential for maintaining physical and mental health. 

This article provides a comprehensive guide on building your own workout routine for the office, covering key aspects such as the appropriateness of self-designed workouts, structuring your program, the seven essential steps to creating a workout plan, and useful apps to help you along the way.

Is It OK to Make Your Own Workout Plan?

Creating your own workout routine can be highly beneficial, especially in an office environment where time and space constraints can be challenging. The key to a successful self-designed workout program is ensuring it aligns with your fitness goals, physical condition, and daily schedule.

Benefits of Designing Your Own Routine


A self-made routine allows you to tailor exercises to your specific needs and preferences. You can focus on areas that require improvement or incorporate activities that you enjoy, which increases adherence and satisfaction.


Office hours can be unpredictable, making it difficult to stick to a rigid exercise schedule. Designing your own routine allows you to adapt your workouts to fit into your daily work life seamlessly.


Creating your own plan eliminates the need for expensive gym memberships or personal trainers, making fitness more accessible.


Office workout routines can be designed to require minimal or no equipment, enabling you to perform them at your desk, in a conference room, or even during a break. You don’t have to bring yourself to the weight room or the gym.


Knowledge and Safety

Ensure you have a good understanding of proper exercise techniques to avoid injury. If you’re new to exercise, consulting with a fitness professional initially can provide valuable guidance.

Consistency and Discipline

Self-designed routines require a high level of motivation and consistency. Setting realistic goals and tracking your progress can help maintain discipline.


To prevent boredom and overuse injuries, incorporate different exercises targeting various muscle groups. Let’s say you do lower body exercises today, then tomorrow you should focus on workouts for the upper body.

How Do I Structure My Own Workout Program?

Structuring a well-designed workout program involves balancing different types of exercises to ensure a well-rounded fitness routine. For an office setting, consider the following components:

Exercises to Include in Your Training Program

Cardiovascular Exercise

Activities that increase heart rate and improve cardiovascular health. Examples of cardio workouts include brisk walking, stair climbing, and desk-friendly aerobic movements like jumping jacks or marching in place.

Strength Training

Strength training exercises are ones that build muscle strength using body weight, resistance bands, free weights, or light dumbbells. Lifting weights pushes your muscles outside their comfort zone, forcing them to become stronger. 

Additionally, according to the journal “Exercise Physiology: Theory and Application to Fitness and Performance,” doing slightly more in your session will allow your muscles to break down and rebuild themselves to handle more in your next workout. Examples include squats, lunges, push-ups, and resistance band exercises.

Flexibility and Mobility

Stretching and mobility exercises enhance flexibility, reduce stiffness, and help you move through the full range of motion. Several compound exercises fall under this category because you’re recruiting multiple groups of muscles all at once. Examples include bench presses, seated stretches, yoga poses, and dynamic stretches.

Core Stability

Exercises targeting the core muscles to improve the upper body, posture, and stability. Examples of core exercises include planks, seated leg lifts, and torso twists.

Frequency and Duration


Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week, or 75 minutes of high-intensity activity per week, as recommended by health guidelines. This can be broken down into an exercise session around 10-30 minutes long daily.


Short, frequent sessions (e.g., 5-10 minutes) are ideal for the office environment. These can be spread throughout the day to fit into breaks or between tasks.

Sample Workout Structure


3-5 minutes of light cardio, such as marching in place or gentle stretching, or using a rowing machine, to prepare your body for exercise.

Main Workout

10-20 minutes of combined cardio, core exercises, and strength training. Alternate between different major muscle groups to avoid fatigue.

Cool Down

3-5 minutes of stretching or relaxation exercises to help your body recover.

What Are the 7 Steps to Creating an Exercise Routine?

Creating an effective workout plan involves several steps to ensure it meets your personal fitness goals and fits into your office routine. Here are seven essential steps to guide you:

Set Clear Goals

Determine what you want to achieve with your exercise plan. Training goals can range from weight loss and muscle growth to improving cardiovascular health and reducing stress. Having clear, measurable goals helps in designing a focused and effective plan.

Assess Your Fitness Level

Evaluate your current fitness level to identify your starting point. Consider factors such as your endurance, strength, flexibility, and any physical limitations. Exercise testing is an assessment that will help you choose appropriate exercises and intensity levels. You can also use the scores to measure your progress with your aerobic and muscular fitness, flexibility, and body composition.

For example, the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) recommends that if you’re a beginner, start with lighter weights and more reps as you learn the movement. You can then decide if you want to stay with the same routine or do fewer reps with more weight.

Plan Your Schedule

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, 30 minutes of moderate exercise five days per week is the standard. However, if you don’t have that much time, 20 minutes of high-intensity exercises three days per week brings the same benefits.

Identify the best times during your workday to incorporate exercise with the recommended amount of minutes. This could be during lunch breaks, mid-morning, or afternoon lulls. Aim for consistency, but be flexible enough to adapt to unexpected changes in your workday. 

Furthermore, it’s important for resting to have its own day in your plan. Add rest days and active recovery days to your program. An active recovery day is meant to help you recover from your intense training, especially on days when you do hard workouts.

For example, you did weight training today. The next day, you have a full-body routine. For the next day, you should schedule it as an active recovery day just to keep yourself moving, improve your range of motion, repair your muscles, and maintain a habit of activity. You can do light exercises such as foam rolling, yoga, taking a long walk, and the light.

Choose Your Exercises

Select exercises that align with your goals and can be performed in your office environment. Ensure that you have a mix of compound and isolation exercises to create a well-designed program.

If you want to lose weight or build muscle, you should aim for strength exercises. If you just want to improve your fitness in general, you need to do a variety of workouts. Choose isolation exercises if you want to strengthen a specific muscle group, or choose compound workouts such as an overhead press, bench press, or dumbbell press if you want to work multiple muscles.

You can use online resources, and fitness apps, or consult with a professional for more exercise ideas.

Determine Sets and Reps

How many reps and sets a person does depends on a couple of factors such as goals, planned exercises, fitness levels, and training days. For strength training exercises, how much weight you can lift can help determine your sets and reps. 

Beginners might start with fewer reps while more experienced individuals can increase this based on their fitness level. For cardio, consider time-based goals, such as 2-3 minutes of an activity. If you want to improve muscular endurance, you need to perform longer sets. If you’re looking to burn fat while building muscle, keep your reps and sets in the 8 to 15 range.

Rest periods between sets matter as well. There are many ways to assess how long you should rest but in general, if you’re doing compound movements, rest for 2 to 4 minutes. If you’re doing accessory movement, rest for 45 to 90 seconds.

Track Your Progress

Keep a log of your workouts, including the exercises performed, duration, sets, and reps. Tracking progress can help you train consistently, identify improvements, stay motivated, and make necessary adjustments to your routine.

Adjust and Evolve

Regularly review and adjust your exercise regimen based on your progress and any changes in your goals or schedule. Adding variety and increasing intensity over time ensures continuous improvement and prevents plateaus. It also helps build multiple physical qualities, helping you avoid injury, reinforce strengths, and build weaknesses. 

Generally, you’ll want to train for four to six weeks at any given level of difficulty before trying to layer on more. Listen to your body and gauge if you can move up to a more challenging workout.

How Should My Office Workout Schedule Look Like?

Your office workout schedule should incorporate short, frequent sessions spread throughout the day to accommodate your work routine. Aim for 5-10 minute mini-workouts during breaks, including a mix of cardio, strength training, and stretching exercises. 

For example, start with a quick morning stretch session, perform desk-friendly lower body exercises like squats, and then maybe do upper body movements like desk push-ups mid-morning. Take a brisk walk during lunch, and finish with some light stretching or core movements in the afternoon.

Is There an App to Create Your Own Workout Plan?

Yes, there are several apps designed to help you create and manage your workout plan, especially suited for busy office environments. These apps provide exercise suggestions, track progress, and offer customization options to fit your specific needs.

You can use apps such as FitOn, MyFitnessPal, Nike Training Club, Sworkit, and the J&J Official 7-Minute Workout. These apps offer customizable routines based on your available free time, allow you to log and monitor progress, and even have demonstrations of exercises.

Final Note

Building your own workout plans for the office is a practical and effective way to stay fit and healthy despite the constraints of a busy work environment. You can create a sustainable and enjoyable fitness routine by setting goals, doing a step-by-step plan, and balancing different types of exercises. 

Remember, the key to success lies in consistency, variety, and adapting the routine to fit your lifestyle and evolving fitness needs. With these strategies in place, you can transform your office hours into opportunities for physical well-being and enhanced productivity.

Tricia Montano

Tricia founded Pain Free Working in 2019 due to suffering from degenerative disc disease in her L5-S1 from working an office job for the past 18 years. She and her team strive on finding and reviewing the best office equipment to help fellow pain sufferers find relief and to enable people like her to do their jobs comfortably.