How to Work Out Secretly at the Office

Take the stairs, skip the elevator Photograph by Robert Daly

Another holiday season has come to a close, and weight loss continues to dominate America’s list of New Year’s resolutions. If you’re tempted to use the old “I’m too busy at work to go the gym” excuse, know that exercise doesn’t need to be confined to after-hours. Here, P90X founder and celebrity fitness guru Tony Horton reveals some trusty workplace routines to keep you burning calories all day long.

Every Step Counts
“The first thing you can do is take the stairs. If you have to take the escalator, walk up it. Every stair is a quarter-calorie burn. Do single, double, and triple steps.”

Clench Your Butt Cheeks (Seriously)
“Do isometrics at your desk. No one will even know that you’re doing them—though you may look a little stressed out. Clench your fists and flex your forearms and count to 10. Squeeze a pen and focus on your forearm muscles. You’d be surprised by how many calories that burns. It also works with the chest and the belly, your glutes and your quads. When you squeeze your butt cheeks together, you should rise up in your seat about a full inch. It’s a very healthy, good thing to do. It’s good for everything down below. Then for a full 30 seconds while sitting at your desk, try to squeeze everything you can think of from the shoulders down. And then relax into your seat. Your engaging the muscles and the tendons and forcing the blood into places it wouldn’t go if you were sitting on your butt doing nothing.”

Find Some Makeshift Weights
“Go down to the stockroom or mailroom and lift a few boxes. Just pick up a filing box filled with files from the floor and put it on the shelf. Be creative—it’s functional fitness, helping flexibility, coordination, and strength. It probably weighs 15 or 20 pounds. Bend both knees with your back flat and your ass down, and pick the box up and put it on the shelf. Then take it off the shelf, twist 180 degrees, and put it back down. Do it 12 times.”

Take Advantage of the Stairwell
“Do what I call the half-pistol squats. Go to the stairwell. Stand sideways on a stair. You’re then going to do a half-legged squat on a stair sideways. If your right leg is on the stair, you’re bending the right knee and dropping the left heel, with the toes up, to the floor or the stair below. You’re isolating the quadriceps and the gluts of the right leg. Flip around and do the other side. It’s shockingly hard for folks. You get to 12 or 15 and you realize that there is such weakness there. It’s a great way to shape your butt in the office without having to go to a class.”

Go Hard-Core (and Bring a Spare Shirt)
“Do the sequence ‘UIML:’ upper, intervals, middle, lower. The first move is a pushup. Make sure your hands are lined up with your chest. Knock ‘em out. If you can’t do full pushups, do a half or quarter. It’s still a pushup. Second, you get up and run in place as fast as you can—like Forrest Gump—for 60 seconds. Take your pumps off. Third, get on your butt. It’s called ‘row your boat.’ Sit up with your feet on the floor at that balance point. Sit there with your knees to your chest, your arms are extended like oars. Pull your hands into your chest and extend the feet out. Knock ‘em out. Then it’s time for butt and legs. A basic squat is simple and easy. Feet parallel between hip and shoulder-distance apart. Squat down, weight on your heels, chest and eyes up. As if you’re ready to catch something. Do whatever you feel will be miserable.”

    Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.