Why Your Workstation is Your Best Warm-Up: 3 Ways Standing at Your Desk Can Help Your Workouts
Let’s face it, sitting at work all day can be a real pain in the ass (pun intended). I’m a very active person outside of work and enjoy playing sports and weightlifting whenever I can. When I got my first real life 9-5 job, I noticed that doing these activities wasn’t always as easy as it used to be. Sure, age plays some part, but through a little self examination, I realized sitting down for long periods of time was the real culprit: not only does it stiffen up my muscles, but it lowers my energy levels.
“But I’m so busy with work that I can’t get away from my chair,” you might say. I used to feel that way too, until I started using a standing desk. Ever since I began using one at work daily, I find myself having a much easier time transitioning into my active lifestyle. Being active requires constant attention to your body, both physically and mentally.
Standing at my desk allows me to warm up and keep my muscles engaged for my exercises after work, and gives me the energy to go meet my friends for a pickup game or go to the gym, instead of plopping on my couch all night. But more than anything, it’s really enriched my overall lifestyle.
Stand for Energy
A lot of us, myself included, feel very worn out after a long day of work. Sitting down and staring at a computer screen for a prolonged period of time isn’t healthy for anybody. I’m sure you catch yourself stretching your legs out once in awhile while sitting at your desk.
Studies have shown that standing actively engages our mind and body to increase our awareness and allows us to focus better, which helps to reduce stress and fatigue. Feeling tired? Take a stand. Falling asleep? Stand up!
My StandDesk is a great motivator to get me standing up while working, because it makes the transition from sitting to standing really easy. I zone out easily and often, and losing track of my progress only makes tasks take much longer than they should. Standing helps me to focus on the task at hand, and it’s greatly improved my productivity as a result.
After a good day of standing, I feel much less lethargic than I would had I been sitting all day. My legs feel warmed up, and I’m left with an abundance of energy. It helps to provide an easy transition into physical activities after work: I find myself having an easier time weightlifting and playing basketball, because the reduced fatigue allows me to focus better on my cardio and compound workouts.
Don’t Skip Leg Day
As you warm up before a workout or game, think of how many stretches and light exercises you do while standing. Quite a few of them, aren’t there?
I love weightlifting, and it’s been a part of my lifestyle for 5 years and counting. I incorporate a lot of compound lifts into my regimen, such as the deadlift, squats, power cleans, and overhead press, just to name a few.
These exercises are all done while standing, and engage a lot of muscles in your legs. When standing, your quadriceps, hamstrings, and calf muscles are all engaged. These are also the main muscles engaged when doing Squats and Deadlifts. Preparing these muscles before I get to the gym not only saves time, but it mitigate my risk of injury because my muscles are warmed up.
As an example, I always spend the last portion of my work day standing up if I’m going to go to the gym after, and I start preparing my stances: feet shoulder-width apart, toes pointed slightly outwards. Standing this way for a good 20-30 minutes allows my muscles to engage properly for when I actually get to the gym to squat. As a result, when I find myself in front the squat rack, my legs feel stronger and more active, instead of feeling stiff.
Of course, there are tons of stretches you can do at your desk as well, and could even do some preliminary squats right at your desk. You might look a little silly, but your legs will thank you for it later!
Stretch in Style
Outside of my compound weightlifting routine, I also enjoy playing pickup basketball. Basketball is a cardio exercise, and is different from compound strength exercises, such as weightlifting. For cardio exercises, you want your muscles loosened before you get into the nitty gritty, and it’s important to warm up and raise your body temperature first before stretching, or you risk injury. Much like weightlifting, I like to start my prep while I’m still at work.
Standing for upwards of 30 minutes can begin to warm your muscles up slightly. From there, I like to incorporate simple dynamic stretches to loosen my muscles, without straining them. By the time I get to the game, I’m warmed up and ready.
The stretches that you do before a cardio activity should be different than those you do afterwards. After a great game of getting buckets, I like to incorporate static stretches into my post-workout routine. These are also super easy to do standing in front of your desk, so you can fit in a midday workout in without sacrificing the proper warmup and cool down.
Planning to jump into a pickup game or go for a run on your lunch break? Do some dynamic stretches at your desk, such as swinging your legs back and forth and side to side to loosen the muscles and activate your range of motion. Heading back into the office after your game or workout is over? Incorporate static stretches, such as calf or quad stretches, to improve your flexibility and help your muscles cool down.
Desk-based standing and stretching warmups have greatly improved my workouts. I seamlessly transition from office work to gym workouts with ease, and even after my workouts, I find myself having extra energy to go about other tasks. I’m always on the lookout for ways to be more productive and take care of my body and mind, so being able to use my standing desk to make the work-workout transition easier has positively impacted my quality of life.