Sitting all day takes your leg muscles completely out of their game. Adding insult to injury, the hamstring muscles on the back of your leg are crushed into your chair by the weight of your upper body. Even if you work at a standing desk, you aren’t moving your legs as much as they would prefer. You can begin to undo this pattern by exercising your legs.
The quickest and simplest way to exercise your legs at work is to stand up and do a few squats. Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart:
- with your feet pointing straight ahead or just a little out to the side and
- holding your arms straight out in front of you (to stabilize your body), and
- keeping your chest up, butt out, and knees over your ankles throughout the movement,
- sit down into an imaginary chair, until your thighs are parallel to the floor, and then
- stand up.
This video gives a more detailed version of this basic squat exercise.
This video shows another version of the basic squat exercise.
This video shows good squat form and how to correct common mistakes.
The quickest and simplest way to engage your lower-leg muscles is to stand up and lift your heels off of the floor.
This video breaks down this basic toe raise exercise and shows how you can make it progressively more challenging.
The quickest and simplest way to engage your hamstring muscles is to stand on one leg and bend your other leg as far as possible, as if you were trying to kick your buttocks.
This shows how to add a little resistance to this basic hamstring curl.
This video shows how to do a prone hamstring curl with ankle weights.
The hamstring curl emphasizes the lower part of the hamstrings. To exercise the upper part of the hamstrings revisit the hip-extension exercises page.
Glute Ham Raise
Among fitness enthusiasts, the “glute ham raise” is widely regarded as one of the best hamstring strengthening exercises. If your gym has the special gear need to do this exercise, here’s a video that shows how to do it.
This video shows how to do the glute ham raise on an improvised set-up, using a weight machine and Bosu ball.