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Office Work and Quality of Life

Alright everyone, take a break from whatever nonsense task you are doing at work right now and let’s be real for a second. This piece you’re reading? It’s all about swapping that more sedentary office life to a more active life that includes an office job. Yeah, that includes growing some muscles. Let’s talk about exercise for office workers.

“Muscle building? I do conference calls and emails all day. I don’t have time for that.” Yes, you do. Look, I get it. Those plushy office chairs are comfy aren’t doing your behind any favors. Alexander the Great didn’t conquer the world while living a comfortable life and look at what he accomplished. Granted, his arrogance led to his downfall in part but let’s just take that history lesson for a separate post.

Now, I love a comfortable office chair just as much as others but comfort isn’t the most inspirational when it comes to hitting the gym. When we are comfortable we are stagnant. When we stagnate, we don’t grow. Next thing you know you are 3 years from retirement, 60lbs overweight, your joints hurt, you aren’t sleeping well, and you are digging yourself an early grave.

“That seems a bit harsh! I feel personally attacked, because that is entirely too accurate.” I don’t think that if you care about people truly you should sugarcoat the truth and believe that since we as a society have begun covering everything with sugar (literally and figuratively) society has gotten much bigger and softer (also literally and figuratively). Leading a sedentary lifestyle, days filled with long periods of sitting and minimal physical activity, can be harmful to our health. Our ancestors didn’t have the luxury, and that is what it is, to sit around all day and contemplate the best font for a blog article or spending a few hours building an excel worksheet. Our bodies are meant to be used, so let’s do that.

It’s easy to let slide because comfort is contagious. It feels nice to do nothing and is rather addicting, but it comes at a price. That price is achy joints, extra weight, lack of focus, mobility issues down the line, bad sleep, and other negative issues. On the other hand regular exercise is a game changer in many respects. It doesn’t just make you feel good, it builds stronger muscles, improves your health, fortifies your joints, boosts your mood, and helps you get a better night sleep.

How Chairs Are Turning Us Into Mush!

It’s time for a crash course: “Muscle Building for People Who Work in an Office 101.” It’s really not too hard. In fact, once you get going you will probably be shocked at just how easy it can be. It all starts with a mindset shift and how you speak to yourself.

It’s really not a secret that how we view ourselves and what we prioritize internally shows externally. If you consistently tell yourself that you cannot make positive physical changes, you will never make those positive physical changes. Additionally if you consistently tell yourself that you will start tomorrow, tomorrow will never come.

Change your mindset, change your life.

Growing Muscles Is Not Just About Lifting

First thing’s first, let’s talk muscle growth. They don’t just magically sprout overnight. There is not a single mechanism known to man that will cause muscles to spontaneously grow overnight without some sort of external stimulus. It only happens through a process called “protein synthesis”. That is a magical process we all do internally in reaction to adequate protein intake stacked alongside muscular stress.

What does that actually mean? It means that you cannot ‘manifest’ muscles (just like you cannot manifest anything else). It requires you to consciously consume enough protein for your muscles to rebuild/grow AND actually use your muscles enough for them to want to grow in reaction. And, no. Neither of those two items have a set number, percentage, or output to shoot for. It is relative for each person based on their activity levels, overall fitness levels, goals, weight, current muscle mass, and other factors. So, yes. Exercise for office workers is a necessity.

The Curse of the Comfy Chair

Now let’s face the not-so-fun part: the impacts of a sedentary lifestyle on your precious muscles. Being sedentary for too long makes muscles weak. Whatever strength you had starts to disappear. Trust me, you don’t want to go from running marathons to finding yourself huffing and puffing over a few stairs or being able to pull yourself over and out of danger to being a stuck noodle waiting for someone else to come save you in an emergency. That’s a terrible place to find yourself.

It is human nature to want to relax and be comfortable. We all crave it. It feels nice to just sit around and do nothing. For a bit. Until the effects of doing so come into play and you find yourself with random aches and pains, struggling to talk up the stairs, and have plummeting energy levels.

That is why having an incredibly comfortable office chair is a blessing and a curse. I work in an office, too, so I get it. Low quality chairs aren’t good for ergonomics, they hurt your bum, low back pain happens, BUT you also don’t want to spend a lot of time in it so you get up more often and begin walking around the office in search of anything else you could be doing.

High quality, incredibly comfortable and ergonomic chairs on the other hand suck you in. You don’t want to get up. You sit down first thing in the AM and before you know it it is lunch time. If you bring your lunch to work, and you should for multiple reasons, you probably sit through lunch in that chair because you don’t need to go anywhere to grab food. The end of the work day shows up and you have maybe 1000 steps logged since you woke up 10 hours ago. Not good!

That can make us all soft.

The Desk-Side Workout Remedy (No Treadmill Included!)

So, how do you mix office work with some sort of activity to grow muscles and improve overall health? Training and Nutrition. While I won’t go over nutrition here, exercise for office workers is incredibly important.

Now, let me preface what I am about go over by saying that I work in IT Security. That means a lot of my day is spent staring at a screen tracking nonsense that happens on company networks, finding threats and mitigating them, and closing a LOT of tickets. It also means that I am chained to my desk for hours on end. On top of that I have a family life that limits my active time quite a bit so I need to get in movement when I can in order to not fall into the stereotypical office worker, IT Nerd profile.

Is it easy? No. Is it rewarding? Yes.

However, and this is getting slightly off topic, as a man nothing gives me more purpose than a good challenge and not fitting/feeding into exactly what modern society wants. A mans entire goal should be providing for himself and family, being physically able to not only provide for but exist for a long period time in a way that keeps himself and family safe, and to do all of that in a way that helps mold and guide others towards a similar lifestyle.

To be a man is to suffer, so it is better to willingly challenge yourself so you are ready when someone else challenges you. It’s been that way for millennia and will continue to be that way into the future.

We have lost our roots as men by living a comfortable life and society is paying for that currently. Office work does little to meet half of those goals, so we have to adjust.

Of course, this blog isn’t solely aimed at men, so ladies feel free to apply the same concepts to yourselves if you’d life.

Fitness breeds confidence. Confidence breeds success. Plus, consistently exercising a few times a week puts you into the top twenty or so percent of Americans so you’ll have the whole elite thing going on as well when you look at the population as a whole.

Keep Your Desk Job And Still Be Fit

Offices bring along with them challenges, some of which I have already mentioned. But it also brings along others: lack of time, limited space, timelines, work-related stress, etc. The struggle is very real, but, and to sound cliché here, we stagnate under comfort but grow under challenges.

It is an absolute requirement, physically AND mentally, to strive to be our absolute best so here is some help to get in that exercise while employed as office workers.

Time Crunch

Time is a slippery little fella, isn’t it? You’re busy working away in the corporate world, presenting at meetings, reading (deleting) emails, building out new technologies, tracking baddies through the metaverse (terrible platform, btw), and bam! It’s time to go home for the day. The family is home and you won’t have a chance to get in any activity until at LEAST after they go to bed in which case you are probably tired and won’t want to do it.

Who’s got time for exercise, right? WRONG! Squeeze in a few minutes of muscle magic throughout the day. Once an hour get up. Go for a walk. Talk 5-10 minutes every hour focusing on movement. Walk around the building parking lot a few times, go up and down the stairs a few times. If your building has a gym, go walk on a treadmill for a few minutes.

Better yet, if your company has joined the 21st century and has Teams/Zoom on mobile devices, take your meetings on a walk. If you aren’t presenting and don’t need to be on camera, who says you cannot do that?

I do this all the time, especially on days I work from home. Hour long meeting that I need to focus on but am not presenting/don’t have to be on camera? I take it on the road and go for a walk. An entire hour outside walking will net you a good amount of steps, keep your blood flowing, and lift your mood. Considering the rates of depression associated with sedentary lifestyles, what are you going to lose?

Nope-I-Don’t-Need-a-Gym

Having a gym membership, or gym equipment at home, is great but that only helps during non working hours. What about while you are at work and you want to get moving?

People with offices have it easy. They can shut the door and knock out some pushups, air squats, or burpees without anyone throwing an odd look and considering them weird. Most of us cannot do that unless we are doing remote work and in office exercise for office workers becomes a bit harder.

So how can we accomplish movement other than walking? You don’t need to hit the full gym to do bodyweight movements throughout the day. Air squats, desk pushups, chair dips, desk pushups, and lifting boxes can all work to get you growing if done methodically, systematically, and consistently.

Heck, you could even find a hidden corner of the back parking lot or reserve the crying room in your office space (if your company has one of those things) and knock out some exercise in a far more effective use of that room than it was designed.

Build out a plan to do a certain number of whatever movement each day and stick to it. If you are new to fitness or are very out of shape this will set you on a great path to more movement. It doesn’t take much to get going with a different mindset and some progress.

Work Stress: Let’s Punch It in the Face

We all have our unique ways to cope with work stress. Mine is heading to my basement and hitting the heavy bag on the extra hard days, or at least doing everything I can to beat the all time record in a spin class. Physical exercise helps you unwind, recharge, and keeps that nasty stress monster in check.

In fact, there are multiple studies on the effects of physical exertion and stress as well as the rates of depression among the physically active. Results are (not so) shocking.

Point is, find some sort of activity that you enjoy doing and get yourself winded and sweaty. Your stress levels will plummet. Personally, I start every morning with a great workout session so each day starts off with negative stress. Takes awhile to fill it up and put me in a bad place. It’s almost like an insurance policy for positive mental health.

Resistance Training

Hey man, I’ve already told you to forget that run-of-the-mill “office routine” full of sitting around all day, eating the Ho-Ho’s, and drinking sugary beverages. It doesn’t work. We’ve talked about how sitting can destroy your lean mass, and by extension your confidence, posture, and quality of life. We’ve also talked about some things to do IN the office. Now let’s talk about something else to add when it comes to exercise for office workers.

Healing Powers of Resistance Training

If you are new to the gym then I’m sure you have heard of resistance training under a different name: “Lifting.” What’s the big deal with resistance training? The benefits are as surprising as your ability to keep your eyes open during your Monday AM PowerPoint presentation.

  • Strengthens Muscles: Makes lifting that overly-stacked recycle bin seem like less of a feat.
  • Improves Posture: Say goodbye to the hunched back. Your mom will be proud.
  • Boosts Metabolism: Higher metabolism means you can eat more each day without packing on more pounds.

No, you don’t need to be powerlifting your office desk or deadlifting your coworkers. In fact, don’t do that. Ever. HR wouldn’t approve.

We’ve talked about some of things you can do in the office, but there is an entire world out there full of things to lift and exercise for office workers to do such as:

  • Curl your groceries as you carry them inside.
  • Rearrange your furniture.
  • Pick up some bigger rocks while out on a hike.
  • Speaking of hikes, go for a ruck with a weighted bag.
  • Buy a sandbag for home that you can lift, carry, etc.
  • Manual labor around the house/yard.

Of course you could always get a gym membership. Commercial gyms have most of the equipment you would want and some of them have more than you can even dream of. Hit it up a few times a week consistently with a structured plan and boom! Office pounds drop.

Then there are other types of fitness. Martial arts, boxing gyms, Crossfit. All of them have different goals and activities, but they will all get you in shape IF you are consistent.

Scheduling Your Exercise as Office Workers

Are we gonna tell you how often to exercise? Nah, we’re not your mother. But if you’re asking here are some great guidelines that I tell all my clients.

  • At LEAST 3 Times a Week: That is bare minimum and easy to swing as a beginner.
  • 45 Minutes plus each time: Anything less can be a waste (unless you are doing HIIT) and anything more may be too much.

“But you don’t understand. I don’t have time for that.” Yeah, I get it. Work is 8-10 hours long, the commute is there if you drive, you may have a family life, there are personal commitments, appointments galore, and all of the other things life throws at you.

So do I, which is why I go early in the AM. Between driving home, kids activities, dinner time, and other things I cannot do nights. If you are like me and can’t swing late nights in the gym, go before work. A 6am session works wonders as you head into the office. Takes a bit getting used to, but once you are in the groove it’s not so bad. Equipment is rarely too busy, the crowds aren’t usually huge, and you hit work in a fantastic mood and wide awake.

Plus, you are better than the night time crowd.

Don’t forget about the weekends. Whatever you need to do to fit in some workouts, and staying on track during the weekends is a pro-move.

Whenever you need to go, make sure you put it in your planner. Set times on your calendar. Then force yourself to go.

Lifting 101: A Perfect Pair, Just Like You and Your Stapler

Workouts for busy people are hard to do and you don’t need to spend hours working out if you follow some simple tips. How you lift is just as important, and possibly more so, than how often you lift or how much you lift. There are two main types of resistance training you can do:

  • Compound Exercises: Cover multiple muscles in a single, glorious move. Examples include bench press, deadlifts, squats, overhead presses, and bent over rows.
  • Bodyweight Exercises: Who needs weights when you’ve got your good ol’ body? Examples include pushups, air squats, crunches, and planks.

Including both types is the foundation of a great program!

R&R: Not Just Fancy Hotel Talk

Before you think this is in reference to a vacation, not entirely. Vacations are great to get out of the day-to-day grind, but you probably can’t drop everything on a whim after every workout and hit Bora Bora to recover. That’d be great, but chances are you can’t do that.

I’m talking about normal Recovery & Rest. Not quite as glamorous, but trust us, your muscles are gonna love it almost as much as they love protein and exercise. Makes them feel loved, you know.

Why Catching Z’s Is Key to Building B’s (Biceps!)

Lifting and chowing down on chicken breasts is not all it takes to build muscle. There is far more to it, even if those are the big ones. Rest is the cherry on top of your muscle-building sundae.

Sleep is a huge part of recovery. That is when your muscles rebuild so you need to prioritize sleep. Shoot for 8 hours a night, but honestly anything from 7-9 is great. Anything less and you are robbing yourself of gains, anything more and you are robbing yourself of time.

If you want to read more on how sleep impacts your gains, read this: HERE.

The Great Balancing Act: Work, Sweat, Sleep, Repeat

Is it easy? No, but has anything in life with lasting impact ever been easy? It can be like trying to walk a tightrope between balancing work, workouts, and other commitments. But like any good thrill show, it’s totally doable with a little practice.

Listen to your body. Can you go harder, or do you need to step on the brakes a bit? Stick with the status quo for a bit? Are you looking for maintaining where you are at, losing the equivalent of another person in weight, or trying to chase Ronnie Coleman?

Whatever you do, balance is the key to life.

Perfectly balanced, as all things should be.”

As a side note, Thanos did nothing wrong.

Bringing Down The Curtain: Your Healthier, Happier Office Life Awaits

So here we are at the end. I hope you learned something new about how to balance your daily life and a fitter you with these tips on exercise for office workers. It’s harder to stop than it is to keep going once you start. Shoot for the stars and land on the moon or something. I dunno, I’m not a philosopher. Let’s recap a bit.

The List of Long-Term Benefits

Adding muscle-building to your office life isn’t just a one-hit-wonder. It’s a gift that keeps on giving in an actually good way:

  • Physical Perks: Reduced risk of injury, stronger bones, better posture, and less bodily pain. And let’s not forget those muscles.
  • Mental Magic: Less stress, more energy, improved mood.
  • Fit for Life: It’s about long-term health, too – reduced risk of heart diseases, diabetes, the big nasties we all want to avoid.
  • Longevity: All of these combined can increase your lifespan by a few years. That alone should be worth it.

Exercise for Office Workers

Now, here’s the pep talk and I’m bad at these. I can summarize in a few short lines. Don’t become part of the furniture. Furniture doesn’t move, but you can.

The road to muscle-building isn’t about upending your life into a tornado of protein powder and gym memberships. It’s about balance between office work, home lives, and daily movement. It’s a constant battle over mental and physical health.

Start small, start smart, and pretty soon you’ll be running this ‘fitness-in-the-office’ game better than anyone else you know.

Take the leap. Trust me, it’ll be worth it. Prove me wrong. Go to the gym, work in some daily movement, shoot for 10k steps each day, lift something heavy consistently, and let us know in 30/60/90 days how you feel.

Let Us help You Out

At CONDITIONerd we are here to help you achieve better physical and mental health through exercise. Check out the plans we offer to our customers and see if you could benefit from working with our team. And if you have questions, you can always contact a CONDITIONerd team member

Personal trainers, like those found here, can help guide you on your pathway towards reaching your fitness goals, whether that is getting bigger, stronger, faster, more lean, or just generally feeling better.

We can get you setup with a periodized workout plan, supplement information, and advice on nutrition to help you reach your goals.

The only thing you need is some motivation and a willingness to change some old habits.

Get into contact with us to find out what membership is right for you. In a CONDITIONerd program, you’ll be surrounded by others who can help you to get where you want to be.

Generally, our clients start to see some pretty awesome changes in 2-3 months time, some sooner.

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Smash that button, and get started today.

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