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Your Weekly Desk Exercise Schedule

Is your desk job getting in the way of a consistent workout routine? Not to worry. Desk exercises are a wonderful middle ground that lets you stay active, all while boosting your work productivity so neither gets left behind. 

This week-long workout schedule gives you a different workout each day. It includes strength training, cardio,  and other workout program routines to keep your body healthy and strong.

Can I Workout/ Do Strength Training 7 Days a Week?

This is actually a great question. Many beginners who are excited and motivated to start going to the gym tend to immediately overload themselves by working out everyday. But taking rest days during the week is not only normal, but necessary for many gym goers to get visible results. 

Think of working out, especially in weight training and strength training, as tearing up your muscle fibers. This triggers your body to start protein synthesis, which allows the muscle group to eventually recover and build more muscle. However, to start the healing process, you need a rest day.

Exercising seven times a week isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Some people have active recovery days, where they still do low-impact exercises such as walking or yoga. But it’s important to split your routine so that each muscle group has time to rest.

What's a Good Workout Routine Schedule for Major Muscle Groups?

Exactly what makes the perfect workout schedule? Should you focus solely on strength training and weight training?

A great sample workout plan is dedicating each day to different major muscles: you can work on your legs one day, then your upper body during the next workout. This gives your leg muscles time to fully recover without sacrificing the rest of your body’s strength training — as opposed to repeating the same workout everyday, where progress is slow and one is prone to overfatigue.

That said, it’s important to have a scheduled and consistent workout plan if you want to get visible results. Many people go to the gym for five days, then have recovery days twice a week. If you’re someone who works at an office during the day and don’t yet have the time to go to the gym, don’t worry. Peer-reviewed studies have shown that exercising at one’s desk is better than not doing it at all. 

One trial has shown that performing neck strengthening exercises increased the work ability of office employees. Strength training workouts are even better, as they help prevent bone loss and muscle weakness that comes with aging.

In general, scheduling tasks, including your workouts, is an incredible time management trick. “When one area of your being becomes more manageable and orderly, it is easier for other aspects of life to follow the same course,” according to certified personal trainer Caleb Backe.

The great thing about these desk fitness exercises is that anyone, regardless of fitness level, can perform them. They don’t require lifting weights but do just as well with them. They also contribute to worker productivity, improved focus, and overall better mood. Without further ado, let’s go over your new desk workout routine!

Weekly Exercise Routine for Every Muscle Group You Can Do at Your Desk

This sample workout routine is perfect for the busy worker, ensuring you get at least 10 minutes of exercise at your desk everyday from Monday to Friday, adding to 50 minutes per week. The workouts target the full body as well as different muscle groups for a holistic fitness journey. We recommend sticking with it for four to six weeks to see results.

Ready to get started on these workouts? Let’s head right in! 

Day 1: Neck & Arm

We’re starting off the work week and your first workout day by stretching out your neck and toning your arms. This helps you warm up, conditioning your body for a busy day ahead as well as getting rid of all the knots and kinks that may have settled in during the weekend.

  1. Side-to-side Head Tilts – Take an object with enough weight on your left hand, such as a book or a water bottle. To stretch out the left side of your neck, move your right ear towards your right shoulder. Hold the pose for 30 seconds, then repeat it with your other side.
  2. Neck Stretch – Next, place both of your hands at the base of your neck. Tilt your head downward as if you are attempting to touch your chin to your collarbones. Gently let the weight of your hands weigh your head down. Retain this pose for 40-50 seconds.
  3. Sitting Arm Circles. While seated, hold your arms straight out to each side. Move them in small circles clockwise for 30 seconds, then counterclockwise for another 30.
  4. Bicep Curls – Take your weights or any suitable object around you. You can do this sitting or standing. With your tool in one hand, curl your right arm until the hand meets the shoulder. Slowly lower it down, making sure every inch is engaged. Do three sets of 10 reps, then repeat the entire circuit. This is a great way to increase muscle endurance.
  5. Overhead Tricep Extensions – Finally, sit at the edge of your chair with your feet firm and knees bent. These target your upper arms. Start by holding your arms out over your head, hands clasped together. Slowly bend your arms back until the hands are behind your neck. Keeping the muscle engaged, move your forearms up until your arms are bent at 90 degrees. Repeat this exercise for 60 seconds. Try adding weight (heavy weights, if you prefer) for a more intense exercise.

Day 2: Cardio

Who says weight loss is impossible when you’re a desk worker? There are plenty of office-friendly fitness exercises you can perform. They’re quick, effective, and won’t disturb your co-workers. 

One way to do cardio at your office is by running in place for 10 minutes. Running, even in place, is an excellent way to increase your heart rate, improve blood sugar levels, and overall, lose weight. You can even listen to some blood-pumping music while you’re at it.

If you prefer to have variety in your workout routines, try out our 10-minute office cardio routine that you can fit into your lunch breaks or free time.

Day 3: Upper Body (Chest & Shoulders)

The middle of the week is usually the most difficult. For this day, we’re scheduling a few upper body fitness exercises that are going to tone your physique without bogging down your body. This way, you’ll be able to follow through with your workout routine while still performing your best at work.

  1. Chest Opener – You can use a doorway to open up your chest. If the space is too small, simply stretch out one side of your arm at a time.
  2. Prayer Pulse – Put your hands together as if in prayer, then your arms, making sure your elbows are in contact. Squeezing tightly, move your arms up and down in small pulses. Do three sets of 10 reps, then repeat the entire circuit.
  3. Shoulder Stretch  – Hold your arm out over your head then behind your back, with your hand stretching to meet your other hand. Hold one side for 30 seconds then switch to the other.
  4. Reverse High Fives – Stand up and keep your arms by your side with the palms facing backward. Do small pulses back as if giving reverse high-fives. Do three sets of 10 reps, then repeat the entire circuit.
  5. Desk Dips – Finally, round out your upper body day with tricep dips or desk dips. Lean your back against the desk, gripping the edge firmly with two hands. Moving your feet further out, slowly lower your body as far as you can. Squeeze, then push yourself back up. Do three sets of 10 reps, then repeat the entire circuit. This is a great strength training exercise, because apart from free weights and fancy equipment, you’re mastering your own body weight.

Day 4: Core

Let your upper body recover as we move onto the core strength training part of our workout schedule. Again, this workout program is for anyone regardless of their fitness levels. 

  1. Seated ab crunches – Sit at the edge of your seat with your legs straight out. Keeping your abs tight, slowly bend your legs, pulling your knees towards you. Hold the pose for a few seconds before going back to starting. Do 3 sets of 10 reps each, then repeat the circuit. This can be a great full body workout as it engages your upper and lower body.
  2. Seated bicycles – Sit at the edge of your chair, leaning back as you raise your legs and move them in a cycling motion, alternating between the left leg and right leg. You may place your hands at the back of your head to really work your core muscles, or simply grip both sides of the seat for stability.
  3. Chair-Supported Plank – Perform a plank, this time using a chair for support instead of going all the way to the floor.
  4. Plank with Knee Twists – Once again, move into a planking position, this time raising one knee towards the opposite side of the chest. Do the same with the opposite knee, all the while keeping your core engaged.
  5. Oblique Squeezes. Grab your medicine ball or something round your hands can grip. Sitting at the edge of your chair, lean back and raise your legs, keeping your knees slightly bent. Holding the ball in front of you, slowly twist your torso from side to side. Squeeze as you go about the full range of motion.

Day 5: Legs

We’re capping off the work week and this routine with some lower body workouts. These workouts are a brilliant way to improve muscular endurance without leaving the office. They’re also quite flexible and can work with more weight or without. 

  1. Ankle Rotations – Simply rotate your ankles as you’re seated, going from clockwise to counter-clockwise, and vice versa.
  2. Chair Squats – Stand up from your chair and assume a squatting stance, feet wide apart and back straight. Keep your torso erect as you squat down. Touch your butt to your chair and hold the pose before going back up.
  3. High Knees – Remain standing for this next exercise. Feet flat on the ground and shoulder-width apart, raise one knee up to your chest. Do the same with your other knee. Keep going until you pick up the pace and alternate between each side. Add a resistance band for a more intense workout.
  4. Calf Raises – Find the nearest wall or chair then slowly raise your body up from the balls of your feet. Repeat the movement. Alternatively, you may do this on a step for a better stretch. You can also switch between your right foot and left foot.
  5. Lunges – Make sure you have ample space in the office or your work area for this exercise. You may do lunges in place, or do moving lunges across the room. This is a wonderful full body exercise that tones your lower body. Simply move your right leg out in front of you then bend it as you go down, keeping your other leg straight behind you and your torso erect. You may rest your hands on your knee or on the floor. 

Day 6: Rest and Recover

Congratulations! You’ve made it to one of the best parts of this program: your rest day. Including Sundays, you get two whole rest days per week. That’s enough time to get your muscles recovering.

A rest day can be different for everyone. Some people like to do foam rolling to remove the kinks and knots in their muscles. You may try active recovery fitness exercises like a short brisk walk or some light yoga. Or, you may choose to stay in bed and just let your body heal. It’s all up to you! A week of endurance activities is sure to take its toll, beginner or not, so rest and recover the best way you know how.

We hope these workouts become a tremendous help in your own fitness journey! Remember that it takes consistency and discipline to improve endurance, build muscle, and see progress. With this tight workout schedule, you’re already on your way!

Want to achieve an incredible physique at your own pace? We have plenty more sample workouts and flexibility exercises you can perform right at your desk. Check them out here.

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.