A busy job with crazy hours may keep you from the gym, but you don’t have to skip exercising your abs because of work. Your desk, floor and chair can all assist you in strengthening the important muscles that support your posture and promote back health.
Weave these moves in throughout your day or take a five- to 10-minute break and do them as a circuit — either way, you’ll improve strength in your belly. Aim to work your abs three to five times per week.
Do the plank pose anywhere — with your hands on a desk, a stable chair or on the floor, if you’ve got a clear space.
HOW TO DO IT: Place your hands or forearms on the solid surface and extend your legs behind you with your toes on the floor.
Contract your abdominal muscles in toward your spine, and maintain a straight line without hiking or sinking your hips. Hold for as long as you’re able to keep proper form, and work up to one- or two-minute holds.
Plank With Knee Twist
Use a desk chair to hold a plank position, and add a twist to engage your obliques at the sides of your waist.
HOW TO DO IT: Place your hands shoulder-distance apart on the chair seat and extend your legs behind you to assume a plank position. Draw your abs in toward your spine to maintain a rigid body line as you pull your right knee toward your left elbow and twist your body to dip your right hip toward the chair.
Return to center and repeat with the left knee. Alternate for about one minute, or 20 to 30 total repetitions.
Seated Leg Pull-Ins
The classic execution of the seated leg pull-in is done from a workout bench, but a stable office chair or coffee table makes a suitable substitute.
HOW TO DO IT: Slide your butt to the very front edge of the chair or table and lean back about 45 degrees — or as much as the chair back will allow. With your hands clutching the bottom of the chair seat by your thighs, draw both legs, with your knees bent, up toward your stomach.
Extend your legs straight out at a 45-degree angle without letting them touch the floor to complete one repetition, pause for a second and then draw them back in with control. Aim for about 20 total repetitions.
Be careful not to lean on the chair back, instead using your abs to keep your torso erect.
Chair Bicycle Crunch
Getting down on the floor to pump out a few classic bicycle crunches might be frowned upon at the office. Even if it’s allowed, it’d be hard to do in heels or dress shoes and a suit. Perform them right from your chair instead.
HOW TO DO IT: Move to the very edge of a stable chair. Pull your belly button in and sit up with tall posture. Place your hands behind your head with your elbows pointed to the sides of the room.
Lift your right knee up and rotate your torso as you bend down to touch your left elbow to it. Repeat with the opposite side. Repeat 10 to 20 times each side.
After Office Hours
Although squeezing abdominal exercises in at your desk is preferable to skipping them altogether, don’t rely on them alone to achieve a washboard belly.
A diet consisting mostly of unprocessed foods, such as fresh vegetables, lean meats and whole grains, keeps you from piling on excess pounds that eclipse strong abdominal muscles behind a layer of fat.
Fit in a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio on most days, even if that means foregoing lunch with colleagues for a quick jog or bike ride.
A total-body strength-training routine that you do a couple of times per week before or after work also helps you build more muscle. A muscular frame boosts your metabolism and keeps you burning fat even when you’re stuck behind the computer.