Today’s younger generation often finds itself cooped up in an office for a large portion of the day, month and year. Alternatively, for those of us still studying, we live in a haze amongst the dusty confines of a library, getting in the marathon sessions and all-nighters just in time for that looming deadline.
For some, this means that exercise hangs precariously from the edge of our life’s priority list. Well, fear not! Here are 4 simple exercises to fit into your lunch break, with a couple of alternatives should you lack the correct equipment (butt clenches not included).
The Slow Squat: Have you mastered the art of standing around, looking as though you have something important to do? Well, add a squat! With your feet in their natural standing posture, a little wider than shoulder width apart, bend the knees and lower yourself towards the ground until your thighs are at least parallel to the ground. As you bend, raise your arms and allow them to follow the growing pile of books in front of you until they’re above your head and, in that parallel position, hold for 15 seconds. Repeat the process a minimum of 5 times, but try to keep building on that number of reps. Squats will work your quads but, with the added pause, you also activate your glutes and core muscles.
The Shoulder Shrug: This one isn’t recommended during board meetings, seminars or 1-on-1s with your tutors, unless you’re seriously on the fence about something and want them all to know it. Find two identical items, which have enough weight to strain your shoulders (fresh pack of paper, chair, the two buckets of tears you have filled so far during that essay which is due in 7 minutes and 42 seconds). Simply raise both shoulders with the items in hand, having previously made sure you’re standing in good posture with shoulders rolled back, and hold for 5 Mississippi’s. Slowly lower and repeat for a minimum of 15 reps. The slow, controlled movement will work your shoulders but also, depending on the shape and weight of the items being held, your forearms and grip.
The Desk Dip: As your triceps make up the majority of muscle in your arms, they’re a vital part of any serious workout. Using a strong, stable desk (which isn’t going to suddenly shift when your bodyweight is applied) or a dog pile of defeated students, place your palms on the surface behind you with your feet rooted to the ground a step or two in front. In this backwards-leaning position, straighten the arms to lift your body before carefully lowering yourself to a 90-degree angle; we would expect at least 8-10 reps.
Alternatively, if you can’t find a desk that holds still, you can opt for the Flying Carpet method. Sit cross-legged on your chair and lift your bodyweight by placing your hands on the armrests and pushing down. Hold yourself up for 10 to 20 seconds before slowly lowering yourself; repeat a minimum of 5 times. Motivating oneself in the middle of the library floor with “A Whole New World” blaring on your laptop speakers is optional, but recommended.
Stair Sprints: Unfortunately, for all of us, spinning around on the chair as fast as possible and throwing up in a perfect circle doesn’t count as cardio. Instead, avoid the lift in favour of a long flight of stairs, taller than those you have at home, and sprint as fast as you can to the top before walking slowly back down; repeat this a minimum of 5 times.
Want to spice it up a little? Retrieve the Shoulder Shrug items mentioned earlier and carry those while sprinting. Once you’re worn out, you can also do a couple of Calf Raise and Bicep Curl reps, where you walk both ways but, on the way up you raise yourself onto your tip-toes with every step and, on the way down, curl the items in your hands.
Hill sprints are a tried and tested athletic method of training, so this is a fantastic substitute to make sure we all get some cardio done in the workplace. Don’t worry about the concerned onlookers; you look perfectly normal! Kind of.