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

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

by BRETT & KATE MCKAY on JULY 24, 2012 · 57 COMMENTS


For most of human history, work has been a physically demanding activity.  Our cavemen ancestors chased down mastodons and hurled spears into their tough, but tasty flesh, American homesteaders tamed the wilderness into productive farms with nothing but grit and sweat, and just 60 years ago, the majority of men in America flexed their muscles on factory floors or construction sites.

Fast-forward to today.

Instead of feeding ourselves by the sweat of our brows, most of us just slouch in a chair all day in a climate-controlled building while we push buttons and send documents through the ether. And the sitting doesn’t end after work. When we get home, we plop down in front of the TV to watch reality shows of men performing the kind of virile, physical, and often dirty work we fantasize about doing while answering emails in our cubicle.

Man’s transition from callused-handed, blue-collared laborer to soft-handed, white-collared desk jockey has done a number on us physically and mentally. Not only have our desk jobs made us weak, flabby, and stiff, sedentary work is sapping the very hormone that makes a man a man: testosterone.

What’s more, all this sitting is slowly eating away at our life meters. One study showed that men who sit for more than six hours of their leisure time each day had a 20% higher death rate than those who sat for three hours or less. For the desk jockey, death comes wrapped in a Successories Poster and waving a USB drive.

“Ah-ha!” you say. “I work out out like a beast in the gym every day and have a physique that rivals Eugen Sandow’s. My hour-long, herculean effort counteracts all the sitting and slouching I do at work!”

Sorry to break it to you Mac, but your visits to the gym aren’t doing much to mitigate the damage that accumulates from all that desk jockeying.

Studies have shown that consistent, vigorous workouts don’t do much to offset the damage we do to our bodies by sitting down all day at our cushy Dilbert-esque jobs.

So what’s a modern man to do?

If you want to live to see your future grandkids and maintain your manly physique and sense of well-being, you’re going to need to stay active throughout the day.

That can be tough when you’re chained to a desk filling out TPS reports or attending unproductive brainstorming sessions on how to build more “synergy.” But with a little creativity, and a bit of gusto (along with a thick skin about what other people think of you), you can easily find ways to sneak some exercise into your work routine and flip the Physicality Switch of Manliness. Below we offer a few simple suggestions on how to stay active all day even if you’re a white-collared desk jockey. Incorporate them into your schedule and you’ll find yourself with hips as limber as an Olympic powerlifter and more energy than you had as a teenager.

1. Make Getting to Your Office a Challenge

Look for ways to make getting to work and into the corporate cave a challenge. Biking to work is of course ideal. If you have to drive, park at the far end of the lot so you have to walk further to the building, carry a giant Saddleback Briefcase (those suckers are heavy) filled with your laptop and small boulders, and hurdle over small hedges as you make your way to the door.  For extra challenge, throw in some parkour and scale the walls like AoM reader Jeremiah Jacques:

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

Instead of using the elevator to move between floors, take the stairs. Start off walking, but work your way up to a full out sprint. Don’t worry about looking like a crazy person. Most stairs in office buildings are hidden away as fire escapes and hardly anyone uses them. Once you reach your floor, pause outside the door to catch your breath, straighten your tie, and mop your forehead with a handkerchief. You just literally leveled up on your high intensity training!

3. Get a Standing Desk

One of the best things you can do to mitigate the health-sapping effects of your desk jockey job is to get a standing desk. The drain on your weight and health, including hip and back stiffness and pain, that comes from sitting down all day will disappear. While you might not be able to convince your boss to spring for an expensive hydraulic-powered standing desk (though I’d at least try lobbying him for it), you can jerry-rig your own standing desk in various ways (search for “standing desk” for ideas).

To learn more about the benefits of standing to work (and its manly history), check out this article from the archives on standing desks.

4. Maintain Good Posture Throughout the Day

If you want to avoid the Quasimodo shoulder slump that seems prevalent among desk jockeys, make the effort to practice good posture throughout the day. Yes, it’s hard and tiring at first, but the struggle is well worth it. Practicing good posture while sitting and standing can reduce tension in your neck, shoulders, and back, improve organ function, and strengthen your all-important core.

Check out this classic article for instructions on how to improve your posture.

5. Do 10 Push-Ups and 10 Squats Every Time You Take a Bathroom/Coffee Break

When I clerked at a law firm here in town, my office sat adjacent to that of the firm’s sole surviving founding partner. He was one of the coolest old guys I’ve ever met. He was sort of like Teddy Roosevelt in a lot of ways. The walls of his office were covered with stuffed and mounted wildlife from his many hunts; dropping memos off in his office was like stepping into the Museum of Natural History. Despite being nearly 80 years old, this old partner was spry as a young buck. I asked him his secret to his youthful vigor at lunch one day, and this is what he said:

“Maintain a sense of humor. You need it in the legal business. And do lots of push-ups while you’re at work. I always do ten anytime I get up from my chair.”

And he did.

Every now and then, when I walked by his office, I’d see a short, bald old man on the floor, cranking out push-ups in his waistcoat.

That little old man inspired me. I started a similar routine that summer at the law firm. Anytime I got up from my chair, I’d do 10 push-ups. I also added 10 bodyweight squats for good measure. The result? I felt more energized and less stiff. More importantly, I started losing some of the summer intern lunch chub that I had gained over the summer.

Stay active throughout the day by incorporating a similar routine.

6. Get Up and Walk Outside for 15 Minutes Every 45 Minutes

I’ve noticed that I’m more productive when I work in shorter increments and take frequent, small breaks throughout the day than if I slog through a project in a single sitting. Taking frequent breaks isn’t only good for your brain, it can also be good for your body, too.  To keep your brain and body running on all six cylinders, use the Pomodoro Technique when you’re working.

Set a timer for 45 minutes and work non-stop. When the 45 minutes are up, take a break for 15. Instead of surfing the web or chatting with Mark in HR, go outside and take a leisurely 15 minute stroll (unless of course you have a job where your boss expects you to be at your desk every minute). Plain old walking provides a surprising amount of health and mind benefits such aslowering our resting blood pressure, reducing obesity, and improving our working memory.

Doing your walk outside will also help you activate the Nature Switch of Manliness, which will reduce stress, keep you mentally sharp, and even boost your testosterone.

You can even make your walks productive by holding meetings with co-workers as you stroll. There’s something about walking and talking that gets the creative juices flowing. Steve Jobs was famous for his walking meetings. Instead of sitting at a table in a stuffy conference room, he’d ask the person he wanted to meet with to take a walk with him outside. Co-workers would go on to say that those “walking meetings” were some of the most productive meetings they ever experienced. Jobs was likely inspired by Aristotle’s peripatetic teaching. Instead of standing in front of a large group of students to lecture, Aristotle preferred to walk and talk to his students.

If it worked for Jobs and Aristotle, maybe it will work for you. Even if you don’t come up with a breakthrough business idea during your walking meeting, you’re at least staying active.

7. Perform 15 Dips When Leaving for and Returning from Lunch

Work those tri’s before and after lunch by cranking out a quick set of 15 dips when you leave for and return from lunch. Just place your hands on your chair and walk your feet out in front of you. I like to keep my legs stretched straight out while I perform the dips. Lower yourself until your arms form a 90 degree angle and then press up. Repeat 14 more times.

8. Perform 30-Second Grok Squats Throughout the Day

Mark Sisson from Mark’s Daily Apple introduced me to one of the best exercises to help alleviate the back, groin, and hip tightness that comes from sitting in a chair all day: the Grok Squat.

Also known as the Asian Squat or Indigenous Person Squat, the Grok Squat is a sitting position that you find in cultures that don’t have sofas or chairs like we do in the West. It’s something you did as a tot, and have forgotten; our almost two-year-old son, Gus, gets down into some really amazing Grok Squats all the time.

The Grok Squat is very similar to a catcher’s stance in baseball. Simply squat down until your butt touches your ankles. Keep your heels firmly on the ground and back straight. Hold that position for 30 seconds to a minute. You should feel your hamstrings, quads, Achilles tendons, lower back, and groin gently stretching. If you’re super stiff, it may take a few days of practice to sink into a full-on Grok Squat. Keep at it. Your back and hips will thank you.

To avoid the stiffness that comes from sitting and standing all day, incorporate several short Grok squats into your daily routine. A great time to do them is right after your 15 minute long walks. Before you resume working, simply crouch into a Grok squat and hold it for 30 seconds to a minute. For added effect, do the Grok Squat on top of your desk while holding a stapler above your head like that monkey hoisting the bone at the beginning of 2001: A Space Odyssey

What do you do throughout the day to stay active? Share your desk jockey fitness tips with us in the comments.

Illustrations by Ted Slampyak

Strength training does a young body good, too

“Fears that strength training puts developing bodies at greater risk of bone damage, growth plate injury and stunted growth are “old-school thinking,” says Brenner, director of the Sports Medicine Program at Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters in Norfolk, Va.

“It’s the No. 1 myth about strength training, and absolutely false,” Faigenbaum says. More than a decade of research shows strength training is safe for kids if properly supervised and planned, he adds.”

Read the rest here:

FREE Self Defense Seminar

Update:  There are only a few spots left.  I will be closing registration soon so make sure to get your name on the list before it’s too late.  Coach David

FREE Street Fighting Seminar Flyer

80,000 + Surveyed want more Self-Confidence

80,000 subscribers reveal what they want most of all – stronger self confidence – on Mental Health Exposed

(From Coach David Alexander;  If you want Real Self Confidence then take a Self Defense Lesson or Seminar with myself or a Strength & Conditioning 4-pack of training sessions.  I cannot think of anything else in this world that could give you more Self Confidence then knowing how to protect yourself or your family from violence or being stronger and in better shape to take on life’s obstacles.)

Thursday, May 17, 2012 by: Mike Bundrant

When you feel safe, you DON’T feel stressed, angry, jealous, anxious or depressed. All of these emotions, in one way or another, result from a perceived lack of emotional safety. When you feel fundamentally safe, you are fundamentally relaxed.

It makes sense, then to take a proactive role in your own safety.  Listen to this episode to learn specifically how to accomplish this.

Learn more:

Free Self Defense Seminar

Update:  Spots are filling up fast.  Make sure to get your name on the list before it’s too late.  Coach David

FREE Street Fighting Seminar Flyer

Free Self Defense Seminar May 22nd

FREE SEMINAR at Xtreme Fitness
-How to Survive a Violent Encounter-
Street Fighting Secrets Revealed!

“Don’t Be A Victim, Learn To Defend Yourself!”
By Coach David Alexander (Self Defense Expert)
Sponsored by:  Coach Z

Print Flyer here:  FREE Street Fighting Seminar Flyer

Street Fighting (def.): 
A spontaneous and violent confrontation between
two or more individuals wherein NO RULES APPLY.

When:  Tuesday Night, May 22nd from 6:00p – 7:30p
Cost:  FREE to all members and guests!
Where:  Xtreme Fitness, 68 Salt Springs Dr. Friday Harbor, WA (off Beaverton Valley Rd.)

Learn the 10 Most Devastating, Hand-Picked, Lethal and Non-Lethal Street Fighting/Self Defense Techniques which are the Fastest and Easiest to Learn and Apply + Lifesaving Bonuses!

Technique #1:  How to stop the fight before it ever happens.  This is the most important technique of them all!
Technique #2:  End the fight in less than 4 seconds with this DEVASTATING MOVE! (Outlawed in the UFC).
Technique #3:  Use this lightning fast technique to hasten a quick escape.
Technique #4:  Collapse your attacker by scrambling his brain using this technique.
Technique #5:  Use this strike to cause massive soft tissue damage to your attacker while avoiding damage to yourself.
Technique #6:  Leave high flying spin kicks to Hollywood; I will show you the two kicks that actually matter in a real fight.
Technique #7:  Devastate your attacker with a blow to these two very specific targets.
Technique #8:  Smash one of these into your attacker and turn his lights out, while you casually walk away.
Technique #9:  How to take your attacker off guard using just two fingers and make him scream for his mother.
Technique #10:  Turn the toughest street thug into a whimpering mouse with this brutal technique (not for the faint of heart).

Each Street Fighting Secrets Revealed Seminar also includes these BONUSES! (If time permits):

Bonus Training #1:  How to avoid being shot by a gun, stabbed by a knife or beaten with a club plus how to shoot a gun, stab with a knife and beat someone with a club.,  Bonus Training #2:  Chokes & Strangles plus How to avoid getting Choked or Strangled.,  Bonus Training #3:  Takedowns that slam the attacker to the ground but keep you standing.,  Bonus Training #4:  Ground Fighting for the street (not sport!).,  Bonus Training #5:  Cool pain causing moves just to mess with your friends.,  Bonus Training #6:  How to fight multiple attackers…and WIN!.,  Bonus Training #7:  Are pressure points real?  Is there really such a thing as a “Death Touch?”

“…that was the SCARIEST and MOST INTENSE seminar that I have ever attended…
…it was also the ABSOLUTE BEST that I have ever attended!”  Teri R.

“The best spent 90 minutes of my life…Actually, it may have just saved my life!  Diane N.

I feel that I am a Human Weapon after attending this class…Thanks Coach David!  Brian S.

“Great lifesaving tools that I hope I never have to use. I feel more confident having learned these skills.” Sean S.

“When you’re in a fight for your life…you better know how to win!”
Coach David Alexander (Self Defense Expert)

This seminar is Rated R for violent themes and adult language.  Must be 16 or older with parents’ permission.  Sit & watch or participate, it’s up to you.  Dress Comfortable.  Limited spots available.  Sign up at the front desk to reserve your spot.  If you need more info please email Coach David Alexander,  Or visit
Coach Z

MetCon Madness Today! 5:30pm

(Update:  Congrats to Jenny for getting the most reps!)

The workout for today was as follows:

Do as many reps as possible for each exercise in two minutes with a 1 minute break in between exercises.  Add up the total amount of reps to see who wins.

-Burpee Broad Jump

-Air Squats

-Tire Jumps

-Hang Power Cleans

-Hill Sprints


METCON MADNESS MONDAY at Xtreme Fitness!  Please sign up at the front desk.

(You do NOT need a membership to attend this class!)

A tip from Fitness Expert Charles Staley

For many people, the very exercises or activities that have been chosen to solve problems actually create problems. There are many examples, but I’ll just list a few:

  • Jogging: For men, jogging (especially when combined with a vegan diet) is perhaps the most effective form of non-surgical gender-re-assignment possible. All of the qualities we associate with masculinity— strength, power, muscularity, and testosterone levels, are all diminished through chronic jogging. For women, it works similarly: the most successful female distance runners look like pre-pubescent boys. Women who do not possess these physical characteristics will suffer injuries as the body attempts to adapt itself in that direction. For both genders, jogging is tedious, time-consuming, and one of the least effective ways to lose weight. No wonder most people hate it.
  • Ab Exercises: Sit-ups and crunches don’t make your abs more visible, but they do wreak havoc on your lumbar spine. Why anyone does them is completely beyond me.
  • Stretching: I’m all for having optimal levels of mobility, but stretching (especially the way most people do it) is somewhere between a complete waste of time and injury-promoting. Better to use full range of motion resistance-training movements and develop strength and mobility simultaneously.

–Charles Staley
Strength & Conditioning columnist 

Great Job Bryan!

Bryan was the fastest to finish the MetCon Madness workout yesterday.  The workout was as follows:

After the warm up we did:

3 Rounds for time of:

20 Thrusters
20 Good Mornings
20 Vertical Jumps
1 Hill Sprint and run around building.


The next MetCon Madness workout will be on  May 7th, starting exactly at 5:30pm.

Next MetCon Madness is Monday, April, 30th at exactly 5:30pm


METCON MADNESS MONDAY at Xtreme Fitness!  Please sign up at the front desk.

(You do NOT need a membership to attend this class!)

Top 5 Regrets of the Dying

hourglass running out of sand - top 5 regrets of dying people

(From Coach David:  I found this article interesting.  I thought you might like it.)

Top 5 Regrets of the Dying

 Don’t wait until your health fails before living the life you want to live
 by: Bronnie Ware | from: AARP | February 1, 2012
For many years I worked in palliative care. My patients were those who had gone home to die. Some incredibly special times were shared. I was with them for the last three to 12 weeks of their lives.

Critically ill people share several common regrets on how they lived their life — Photo by Ross M. Horowitz /Getty Images

People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality. I learned never to underestimate someone’s capacity for growth. Some changes were phenomenal. Each experienced a variety of emotions, as expected: denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance. Yet every single patient found peace before departing. Every one of them.

When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced. Here are the most common five:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

This was the most common regret of all. When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people have not honored even half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they’d made, or not made.

It’s important to try to honor at least some of your dreams along the way. It’s too late once you lose your health. Health brings a freedom very few realize, until they no longer have it.

2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.

This came from every male patient I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.

By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.

We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

Often they would not truly realize the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks, and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.

It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks: love and relationships.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realize until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called “comfort” of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to themselves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.

When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying.

Life is a choice. It is your life. Choose consciously, choose wisely and choose honestly. Choose happiness.

Must Read Youth Strength Training Articles

YOUTH STRENGTH TRAINING  (There are no SECRETS, just hard work)
 The best way to find out your genetic potential is to strength train.

Youngsters Need Strength Too by Bill Starr:

Youngsters Need Strength Too Part 2 by Bill Starr:

Misconceptions About Training Youth (Knowledge to share with parents and administrators)  by Lon Kilgore PhD:

Weightlifting for Special Populations (YOUTH) by Lon Kilgore PhD:

Is Powerlifting Safe for Youngsters?

Youth Resistance Training by Dr. Avery D. Faigenbaum, EdD, CSCS, FNSC:

Strength Training for Youth Fitness:

Top 5 Myths of Youth Strength Training:

Strength Training for Overweight Youth:

Coaches Dozen:

Relative safety of weightlifting for youth:

Youth strength training, potential benefits and concerns:

Less Intense Training:

Getting Strong Safely: Considerations for Training Youth:

Benefits of Weight Training for Kids:

Journal of Pediatrics, Effects of Resistance Training in Children and Adolescents: A Meta-analysis

Youth resistance training from the National Strength and Conditioning Association:

Strength Training for Children and Adolescents


Department of Human Performance and Fitness, University of Massachusetts, Boston, USA.


The potential benefits of youth strength training extend beyond an increase in muscular strength and may include favorable changes in selected health- and fitness-related measures. If appropriate training guidelines are followed, regular participation in a youth strength-training program has the potential to increase bone mineral density, improve motor performance skills, enhance sports performance, and better prepare our young athletes for the demands of practice and competition. Despite earlier concerns regarding the safety and efficacy of youth strength training, current public health objectives now aim to increase the number of boys and girls age 6 and older who regularly participate in physical activities that enhance and maintain muscular fitness. Parents, teachers, coaches, and healthcare providers should realize that youth strength training is a specialized method of conditioning that can offer enormous benefit but at the same time can result in serious injury if established guidelines are not followed. With qualified instruction, competent supervision, and an appropriate progression of the volume and intensity of training, children and adolescents cannot only learn advanced strength training exercises but can feel good about their performances, and have fun. Additional clinical trials involving children and adolescents are needed to further explore the acute and chronic effects of strength training on a variety of anatomical, physiological, and psychological parameters.

Next MetCon Madness is Monday, April, 30th at exactly 5:30pm


METCON MADNESS MONDAY at Xtreme Fitness!  Please sign up at the front desk.

(You do NOT need a membership to attend this class!)