Standing Desk Exercise You can Do Throughout Your Day

January 28, 2019

Standing Desk Exercise
JayDee Vykoukal, DPT

Standing desks have been proven to be a great adjunct to a healthy lifestyle. Being able to prevent stagnancy and keep moving throughout the day does wonders for both mental and physical health by promoting variety, blood flow and regular stretching of the entire body. Yet, could you be doing more? How about a standing desk exercise routine? Using your desk for something other than work is a great way to maximize your exercise efforts and stay on top of your health!

Here are some basics to start your standing desk exercise routine in the office, complete 10-20 repetitions of each exercise throughout your day. Focus on slow controlled motion (a count of two in each direction unless otherwise noted).

The lower body.

  1. Hip swings: Standing sideways to use your desk for balance, exercise the leg that is further away from the desk. As you bend your knee, lift the leg upward and inward toward your belly button as high as you can. Then imagine drawing a circle with your knee as far up and then out as you can go. Finish by returning to the floor. Switch to the other side. BONUS: keep the knee straight to maximize core strength and leg flexibility (just don't kick your neighbor).
  2. Squats: With your hands gently resting on your desk to promote good form and feet hip width apart, squat down toward the floor imagining you will sit in a chair to keep the weight in your heels (and butt back). Work toward getting your hips and knees to 90 degrees and keep the knees behind the toes.
  3. Hamstring curl: Standing facing your desk with the hands resting for balance, bend one knee bringing the heel of your foot toward your butt. BONUS: Decrease hand use to increase balance. Add ankle weights (try it with any of these!).
  4. Hip extension: Standing facing your desk with hands resting for balance, keep the leg straight as you extend the hip behind you. Do not lean forward into your desk and focus on squeezing the butt as you extend.
  5. Heel and toe raises: Using your desk for balance, alternate between lifting the heels and then the toes off the ground. Focus on keeping good posture and not leaning excessively forwards or backwards as you lift. BONUS: keep the core tight. (Not sure how? Start here.)
  6. Lunges: Standing sideways and using your desk for balance (if needed), alternate taking a large step forward with one leg while getting the back knee as close to the ground as you can. Focus on keeping your weight evenly distributed through your feet (no leaning) and keeping your front knee behind your toes as you bend down. BONUS: Put your back foot up on your chair for a deeper range and balance challenge.

The upper body.

  1. Bicep pushes: Standing with your elbows bent and hands palm up under your desk, push your hands up and into the desk as hard as you can. Hold 5-10 seconds at a time. Focus on good posture and keeping the neck relaxed.
  2. Standing tricep push up: Start by standing 2-3 feet from your desk (the further away you are the harder it is), rest your hands palms down and shoulder width apart on the edge of your desk. Keeping the arms (especially the elbows) tucked into your side, lower yourself as low as you can go toward the desk and then return. Keep the core tight and good posture throughout.
  3. Shoulder rotation pushes: Start with your arms at your side and elbows bent to 90 degrees. Bring the outside of your hands (palms should be facing in toward each other) to the inside edge of the desk on each side, push "out" against the desk. Hold 5-10 seconds at a time.
  4. Bent over flys: Standing sightly away from your desk, bend over until you can rest the forearm of one arm on your desk (as if in a modified plank). With the other arm, keep the arm straight to form a "T" as you pinch the shoulder blade toward the spine. BONUS: To make it harder, try putting arm in an overhead "Y" position and repeat.

Combinations to feel the burn and optimize your standing desk exercise.

1. Hip swing with arm circles: Complete the hip swings above while your arms are out to the side in a "T." Make small continuous circles with your arms (alternate between forwards and backwards with sets). Talk about coordination!

2. Flys with lunges: As you complete your lunge as described above, pause and shift your trunk forward to complete a fly with the arm that isn't facing the desk. Switch the direction you're facing to get both arms! BONUS: Do a fly with both arms at the same time to challenge your balance.

3. Squats with bicep curls: As you squat down push with your arms into the bottom of the desk as you did with bicep pushes! Keep your neck relaxed, you should feel a burn everywhere!

4. One legged tricep push up: Complete a tricep push up as above while keeping one leg extended back and off the ground (think about squeezing the butt again). Alternate what leg is back.

Wow, who knew standing desk exercise could be so challenging and fun. This a great way to stay on top of your health anywhere. No excuses, go get it!

Sign Up to Receive Our Newsletter & Get the Best Ergonomic Tips