Desk Jockey Workout: 8 Ways to Stay in Shape at the Office

Desk Jockey Workout is a survival game that tasks you with escaping your office. However, in order to survive, you’ll have to find clever ways to stay healthy while working at the desk all day.

Desk jockey workout man crunching stapler illustration.

Work has been a physically demanding occupation for much of human history. Our forefathers hunted mastodons and slashed them with spears, American homesteaders tamed the wilderness into fruitful farms with nothing but grit and sweat, and just 60 years ago, the majority of men in America stretched their muscles on factory floors or construction sites.

Let’s fast forward to the present day.

Rather than surviving on the sweat of our brows, most of us spend our days slouching in a climate-controlled facility, pushing buttons and sending papers via the ether. And the sitting doesn’t stop when you get home from work. When we go home, we sit in front of the television to watch reality programs about males doing the type of macho, muscular, and frequently filthy job that we dream about doing while answering emails in our cubicle.

The shift from calloused-handed blue-collar worker to soft-handed white-collar desk jockey has taken a toll on us both physically and emotionally. Sedentary labor not only makes us weak, fat, and stiff, but it also depletes the hormone that makes a man a man: testosterone.

Furthermore, all of this sitting is steadily depleting our life meter. Men who sat for more than six hours of their leisure time each day had a 20% greater mortality risk than those who sat for three hours or less, according to one research. Death arrives wrapped in a Successories Poster and waving a USB drive for the desk jockey.

You exclaim, “Ah-ha!” “Every day in the gym, I work out like a beast and have a body that matches Eugen Sandow’s.” All of the sitting and slouching I do at work is offset by my hour-long, heroic effort!”

Sorry to break it to you, Mac, but your gym sessions aren’t doing anything to offset the damage caused by all that desk jockeying.

According to studies, persistent, strenuous exercises don’t do anything to counterbalance the harm we cause to our bodies by sitting at our comfortable Dilbert-style jobs all day.

So, what should a contemporary guy do?

You’ll need to be active throughout the day if you want to live to see your future grandchildren and preserve your masculine body and feeling of well-being.

When you’re tethered to a desk, filling out TPS reports or attending ineffective brainstorming sessions on how to increase “synergy,” it may be difficult. You can easily discover methods to sneak some exercise into your work routine and flick the Physicality Switch of Manliness with a little imagination and enthusiasm (along with a thick skin regarding what other people think of you). Even if you’re a white-collar desk jockey, there are a few easy ways to keep active throughout the day. If you include them into your routine, you’ll have hips as limber as an Olympic powerlifter and more vitality than a teenager.


1. Make Getting to Work a Difficult Task

Businessman jumping hedges parkour commute illustration.

Look for methods to make it difficult to go to work and inside the corporate cave. Of course, riding your bike to work is excellent. If you must drive, park at the far end of the lot so that you must walk farther to the building, carry a massive Saddleback Briefcase (those things are heavy) packed with your laptop and small pebbles, and leap over tiny hedges on your approach to the entrance. Add some parkour to the mix, and climb the walls like AoM reader Jeremiah Jacques:

2. Climb the Stairs Run Up Them While You’re At It

Businessman running up stairs workout illustration.

Take the stairs instead of the elevator to go between floors. Begin by strolling and gradually increase your speed to a full sprint. Don’t be concerned about seeming insane. The majority of stairwells in office buildings are used as fire escapes and are seldom used. When you get to your floor, take a breather outside the door, fix your tie, and wipe your brow with a handkerchief. You’ve just taken your high-intensity workout to the next level!

3. Purchase a standing desk.

Getting a standing desk is one of the finest ways to counteract the health-depleting consequences of your desk job. Sitting for long periods of time has a negative impact on your weight and health, including hip and back stiffness and discomfort. While you may not be able to persuade your employer to buy an expensive hydraulic-powered standing desk (though I’d at least try), you can improvise your own standing desk in a variety of ways (for ideas, check for “standing desk”).

Check read this article from the archives on standing desks to discover more about the advantages of standing to work (and its macho past).

4. Take care of your posture during the day.

Make an effort to maintain proper posture throughout the day if you want to prevent the Quasimodo shoulder stoop that appears to be common among office workers. Yes, it’s difficult and exhausting at first, but the effort is definitely worth it. When you sit or stand with proper posture, you may relieve stress in your neck, shoulders, and back, enhance organ function, and strengthen your core.

Instructions on how to improve your posture may be found in this classic article.

5. Every time you go to the bathroom or get a cup of coffee, do 10 push-ups and 10 squats.

Businessman doing push ups in office illustration.

My office was next to that of the firm’s lone surviving original partner while I clerked at a legal firm here in town. He was one of the most charming elderly men I’d ever met. In many aspects, he was similar to Teddy Roosevelt. Dropping messages down in his office was like walking into the Museum of Natural History; the walls of his office were covered with stuffed and mounted animals from his numerous hunts. Despite the fact that he was about 80 years old, this old companion was as nimble as a young buck. At lunch one day, I asked him what his secret was to his young vitality, and he said:


“Keep a sense of humour.” In the legal field, you’ll need it. Also, when you’re at work, do a bunch of push-ups. When I get out of my chair, I always do 10.”

And he succeeded.

When I passed by his office, I’d sometimes see a short, bald elderly guy on the floor, doing push-ups in his waistcoat.

I was inspired by the small elderly guy. At the legal company, I began a similar regimen that summer. I did 10 push-ups every time I got out of my chair. For good measure, I added 10 bodyweight squats. What’s the end result? I felt more invigorated and less stiff as a result of the treatment. More significantly, I began to lose some of the summer intern lunch fat that I had acquired.

Maintain a consistent schedule throughout the day to stay active.

6. Every 45 minutes, get up and take a 15-minute walk outside.

I’ve found that working in smaller chunks and taking numerous, tiny breaks throughout the day makes me more productive than slogging through a job in one sitting. Taking regular pauses is beneficial not just to your brain but also to your body. When you’re working, apply the Pomodoro Technique to keep your brain and body on all six cylinders.

Set a timer for 45 minutes and work nonstop for that amount of time. After 45 minutes, take a 15-minute rest. Instead of perusing the web or speaking with Mark in HR, go for a 15-minute walk outdoors (unless of course you have a job where your boss expects you to be at your desk every minute). Walking has a surprising number of physiological and mental advantages, including decreasing blood pressure at rest, reducing obesity, and increasing working memory.

Walking outdoors helps you engage the Nature Switch of Manliness, which reduces stress, keeps you cognitively alert, and even boosts testosterone.

You may even turn your walks into productive meetings by conducting meetings with coworkers while walking. There’s something about strolling and conversing that inspires you to be more creative. Walking meetings were a trademark of Steve Jobs. Rather of sitting at a table in a stuffy conference room, he’d invite the person he wanted to see to join him for a stroll outdoors. Coworkers went on to state that such “walking meetings” were among the most productive they’d ever attended. Aristotle’s peripatetic teaching was most likely an inspiration for Jobs. Aristotle liked to stroll and chat to his pupils rather than standing in front of a big group of students to teach.

Maybe it will work for you if it worked for Jobs and Aristotle. Even if you don’t come up with a game-changing business idea during your walking meeting, at the very least you’re getting some exercise.

7. When leaving and returning from lunch, do 15 dips.

Businessman doing dips on chair workout illustration.

Work on your tris before and after lunch by doing a fast set of 15 dips before and after you go for lunch. Simply put your hands on the armrests of your chair and move your feet out in front of you. When I do dips, I try to keep my legs straight out in front of me. Press up after lowering yourself to a 90-degree angle with your arms. Rep the process 14 times more.


8. Do 30-Second Grok Squats Several Times a Day

Businessman doing groks squats on desk illustration.

Mark Sisson of Mark’s Daily Apple introduced me to the Grok Squat, which is one of the finest exercises for relieving back, groin, and hip tension caused by sitting in a chair all day.

The Grok Squat, also known as the Asian Squat or Indigenous Person Squat, is a sitting posture seen in societies without couches or chairs as we use in the West. It’s something you did as a kid and forgot about; our nearly two-year-old son, Gus, regularly does some incredible Grok Squats.

The Grok Squat is quite similar to a baseball catcher’s posture. Squat till your buttocks are in contact with your ankles. Keep your back straight and your heels firmly on the ground. Hold that posture for 30 to 60 seconds. Your hamstrings, quadriceps, Achilles tendons, lower back, and groin should all be gently stretched. It may take a few days of work to get into a full-on Grok Squat if you’re really stiff. Keep going. Your back and hips will appreciate it.

Include several quick Grok squats in your everyday exercise to reduce stiffness caused by sitting and standing all day. Right after your 15-minute walks is a wonderful time to do them. Simply stoop into a Grok squat and hold it for 30 seconds to a minute before returning to work. Do the Grok Squat on top of your desk while holding a stapler over your head like the monkey lifting the bone at the start of 2001: A Space Odyssey for additional impact. 

Ted Slampyak created the illustrations.