Beyond Longevity: A Program to Feel Great Working at a Desk

The desk workouts are not only a collection of activities to perform throughout the day, but a framework to plug them into that allows you to maintain or even boost your work productivity.

The Unknown and the Known: Train for All of It

Training for the “unknown and unknowable” is a popular reason to go hard in the gym these days. While it is important to be ready for whatever we can be ready for, if we use our brains and do a simple triage of what we are likely to encounter, it’s obvious that we are misallocating much our time.

Just what will a bench press personal record, clapping push ups, a big squat, or thirty kipping pull ups do for you in the thirty seconds it takes for the situation in the picture above to unfold? At least you’ll leave a pretty corpse.

What Is Best in Life?

Sometimes, distilling a situation down to the basics helps us focus.

You have two options:

  1. Take care of yourself for real
  2. Die young

Take an objective look at your life and your training program. Are you preparing for a long, beautiful life or will you just be a pretty, young corpse?

Life on Our Asses

You probably sleep about six to seven hours (too little), then get up early. You shower, then go sit down to eat breakfast. A few things to do – take out the trash, get the kids moving, then you climb into the car for your commute to work. Sitting again.

Once at work, you park close by and walk a few feet to your desk and sit down. You might be one of those “active people” and take the stairs. At break time, you most likely sit in the break room. Lunch time? Eat while sitting at your desk.

After work, you hit the gym and feel like a god for an hour, to ensure you’re “prepared for anything,” then sit for the drive home to sit and eat dinner before sitting to watch TV and going to bed too late, again.

You’re training for a sitting marathon.

If you haven’t already, check out the first four-week cycle: Habituation

Desk Workouts, Weeks 5-8: Intensification

For the second four-week mini-cycle, decrease frequency and volume and increase intensity. The movement sessions will be five minutes of exercise each hour instead of five minutes every 25 minutes.

Set your timer for 55 minutes, When it goes off, perform the movement of your choice for the next five minutes. Don’t try to pack every second of the five minutes full, but do move deliberately and consistently. The idea is to create regular, rhythmic muscle contractions to improve blood flow, not to work up a sweat.

READ MORE: Greasing the Groove: How to Make It Work for You

Three options for your five minute rounds for weeks 5-8:

  1. A single movement you can sustain for five minutes
  2. A circuit that you can sustain for five minutes
  3. A “chipper” (a list of movements that you go through once) followed by walking or other easy movement for the blance of the five minutes.


  1. Walking stairs, skipping steps
  2. 3 push ups, 5 lunges per leg, 5 bodyweight rows (in a doorway if you don’t have a bar or rings), 3 piked pushups, 5 bodyweight squats
  3. 25 push ups, 100 body weight squats, walk stairs for the balance of the five minutes

There are myriad movements that can be effective for our purposes. The basic idea is that the work not be so difficult that it creates a need to recover much, if at all. Mix up different movements plus walking to provide stimulus without doing damage.

What we are doing is very free-form because our goal is simply to move your entire body on a regular basis. Be sure to mix upper- and lower-body movements. If there’s a movement you’ve been struggling with in your gym workouts, this could be good opportunity to work the progressions.

Here are some good choices for movements to include:

The Pistol: Everything You Need to Know to Do a Perfect Pistol

The Push Up: Pimp Your Push Up: 3 Common Mistakes and 5 Challenging Variations

Almost anything from MovNat founder and coach Erwan Le Corre:

In weeks 9-12, we’ll add fun options for externally loaded movements.

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