You’ve probably read the studies: Sitting all day is killing you. But for anyone who has a desk job, it’s inevitable you’ll be spending most of your day doing just that. Besides making a conscious effort to get up every now and then and take a stroll around the office (or better yet, outdoors if you can), try sneaking in some strength training with these easy moves from Lanae Rhodes, co-director of Flex Barre at Flex Studios in NYC. All you need is your desk chair—which your backside is probably planted in right now anyway.
1Chair Squat to Sit
Stand in front of your chair like you are about to sit down. Keep your weight in your heels and bend your knees like you are going to sit down, but stop a few inches before your butt touches the chair, and then stand again. “It’s like a fake-out sit down!” says Rhodes.
2Chair Squat to Stand
Start sitting in your chair with feet hip-width apart. Keep the weight in your heels, pull the abs in, and lift yourself a few inches off the chair into a squatted position. Resist the urge to use your hands to push up. Lower back to a seated position, slowly and controlled.
Sit tall in your chair, feet planted down on the floor. Rotate the torso from front to left, back to front, and then repeat on the other side. Make sure to keep the hips planted, and think the rotation from ribs up—“That will engage your obliques more,” says Rhodes. “If you think ‘growing taller’ as you are twisting, it’s a good stretch for the spine, too!”
Sit up straight and tall in your chair. Slowly reach one arm down to the floor—as if you dropped a pen and are trying to pick it up. Keep both hips planted down as you reach down, so that you feel the movement all in your obliques. Return to center. You can either alternate sides, or do a set of 12 to one side and then repeat on the other.
Sit near the edge of the chair, and roll off your sits bones and round through the low back so you are tucking your tailbone underneath you. “If you need support, the upper back—think shoulder blades—can rest against the back of the chair,” says Rhodes. From here, pull your belly tight into your spine, and lift your feet off the floor. You can try a few variations: lift and lower the legs, bend and extend knees, or do a bicycle movement with legs elevated off the ground.
“This one works best if you have arm rests on your chair,” notes Rhodes. Place hands onto arms rests, pull your tummy in tight. Next, push into your hands and lift your lower body off the chair, feet off the floor. Hover there for a few seconds, then lower in a slow and controlled movement. No arm rests? Place your hands right by your hips, slightly underneath your butt for stability, and do the same lifting movement.
Bang out 15 of these quickly to fire up your core, arms and shoulders. Sit on your chair, place right your hands by your hips keeping arms straight. Walk your butt out about 1-2 inches away from the edge of the chair. Then, bend and straighten the elbows to do a “dip.” Make sure your elbows push straight back behind you instead of bowing out to the side.