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Discrete Exercises You Can Do Sitting in a Chair

author image Jen Weir
Jen Weir writes for several websites, specializing in the health and fitness field. She holds a Bachelor of Science in exercise science from Montana State University, is an NSCA-certified strength and conditioning specialist and maintains a personal trainer certification from the American College of Sports Medicine.
Discrete Exercises You Can Do Sitting in a Chair
Man stretching at desk. Photo Credit Todd Warnock/Lifesize/Getty Images

Adequate physical activity is often difficult to achieve, particularly if you're employed in a sedentary office job. While simple changes, such as taking the stairs or parking farther away from the office do help to some extent, the large amount of time you spend sitting at your desk does nothing to improve your fitness. Use the time you sit in a chair to refine your health with discrete chair exercises.

Glute Clenches

Glute clenches will help improve the tone and shape of your butt even while you sit at your desk. Simply squeeze your glutes as tight as you can. Hold the squeeze for two seconds, relax then repeat the squeeze. Complete these 20 short clenches -- and then clench and hold for 30 seconds. Repeat the sequence several times throughout the day.

Stomach Vaccuum

This exercise will help you discretely strengthen and condition your abdominal muscles. Sit in your chair with your back straight. Hollow your stomach by pulling your belly button toward your spine as far as possible. Maintain this position for five to 10 seconds, breathing normally throughout the exercise. Repeat 10 to 15 times.

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Knee Lifts

Knee lifts also target the abdominal muscles as well as the hip flexors. Sit in your chair with your stomach muscles stabilized and your back straight. Maintaining this position, lift your right knee 4 inches. Concentrate on using your abdomen for the movement. Slowly lower your leg and repeat with your left knee. Continue to alternate legs moving in a slow controlled fashion until you have completed 10 to 20 lifts with each leg.

Leg Flexion

Leg flexion allows you to discretely work your hamstring muscles on the back of your thigh. Sit in your chair with your knees bent to 90 degrees and your feet flat on the floor. Press your right foot into the floor while contracting your hamstrings as if you were drawing your heel toward your butt, except your foot maintains its position on the floor. Hold the contraction for 30 seconds then repeat the exercise with your left leg.

Foot Rock

This exercise works the muscles of the lower leg, particularly the triceps surae and tibialis anterior. While sitting tall in your chair, position your legs to 90 degrees and place your feet flat on the floor. Press the balls of your feet into the floor to lift your heels as high as possible. Squeeze your calves at the top of the movement. Lower your heels back to the floor and immediately lift your toes 1 to 2 inches off the floor so that the muscle on the front of your shin is fully contracted. Lower your toes back to the floor. Continue to "rock" your feet back and forth until you have completed 10 to 20 lifts to the front and back.

Arm Press

This exercise targets the triceps muscles on the back of the upper arm. Rest your forearms on your desk so that your arms are bent to 90 degrees. Sit tall and stabilize your abdomen. Maintain this position and press your forearms into the top of your desk as if you were straightening your elbows. Hold this position for 30 seconds then relax. Next, place your arms beneath your desk with your palms up. Press your arms into the desk to contract your biceps and hold for 30 seconds before relaxing.

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  • "ACSM's Resources for the Personal Trainer"; Nicki Anderson, et al.; 2007
  • "Strength Training Anatomy, Second Edition"; Frederic Delavier; 2006
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