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How to Master Chair Squats to Stay Active in the Office

Autonomous Autonomous | Sep 19, 2018

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Your days are jam-packed with work, friends, and family events that leave very little time for yourself. It’s likely that you have difficulties and lack of motivation for finding energy and time to work out after you’re off the clock, and who can blame you? It’s important to take time to relax, and working out isn’t exactly a time where you’re doing nothing. That being said, finding time to work out is crucial to your mental and physical health.

When you’re physically active, your brain also benefits from the exercise. Exercising allows your brain to flow at full power, meaning you’re less likely to be affected by depression, stress, and anxiety. If you haven’t experienced these before, it’s likely you will at one point in your life, even in a very small dose. The brain is much weaker when it is not participating actively in your schedule, and often inactivity can allow us to daydream and space out, two things that force our brain to turn off and lose its momentum in the workday.

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It’s also worth noting that while we’re inactive, there’s more reason to stay lazy throughout the day. When active, you’re more willing to stay focused and productive. For those who work in high-intensity offices, it can be crucial to stay “on” all day and being active when possible makes it much much easier. Productivity is a tough variable to measure, and if there’s anything you can do to help, it’s crucial you embrace any solution available. That being said, no workout does more for your entire lower body and balance than squats. Squats are exactly what they sound like by name; you squat down in a controlled manner to improve your lower body strength and balance. Why are these two things important?

Lower Body Importance

Your lower body strength seems meaningless to some who lift. You don’t see as much visual growth in your lower body compared to taking the time to do upper body, especially in what is commonly referred to as “glamor muscles” like your biceps and triceps. It’s likely that friends or family you have that lift weights focus a lot on upper body, but knowledgeable lifters will know that lower body strength is key to building overall health, as well as limiting injuries.

The more strength you have in your lower body, the more likely you are to avoid injuries in falls and other accidents. If you’re constantly using your lower body in exercises, it’s likely that you can withstand a bit of tension and stress in those areas, and that helps a ton when it comes to staying agile and ready for the unexpected. The best part is that recovery for lower body injuries is slower than for upper body injuries since so much of the pressures of walking and standing are put on your lower body, so if you do get hurt, being in shape makes the recovery time quicker than normal.

Lastly, lower body fitness is important because of something hinted at in the last paragraph. If you’re able-bodied, you stand and walk regularly throughout the day. That’s an important part of staying fit, but using and working out those muscles in your lower body helps to make tasks easier. If you’re 30 years old, it’s not like walking is difficult. But imagine being 80 years old and having a hard time walking. It would be much more difficult if you spent your life immobile and didn’t put time and work into your lower body. It’s crucial to do the hard work now, which isn’t even that hard and help your future self-avoid facing issues in old age. Especially in America, health care as an elderly man or woman can be pricey, and you can cut down on future costs by being healthier now to avoid issues down the road. By sidestepping these issues as a younger person, you’re more capable to get past these hurdles that will occur when you pass 50 years of age.

Balance and Flexibility

It’s obvious to measure your upper body strength with pushups and pullups, or your lower body strength with deadlifts or leg presses, but things like balance and flexibility are even better indicators of one’s physical abilities. First, it’s important to understand their roles in our everyday lives. Balance helps us do things like walk and sit up from a lying or seated position, but it also helps us do things like drive properly, avoid collisions, and make quick movements when needed. Think about the last time you almost bumped into someone on the street. If you made it out of their way without touching them, that’s a sign of your balance. If your balance was poor, you’d have fallen over trying to make such a swift move. Then there’s flexibility.

Flexibility is the ability to improve and use a range of motion in our movements. A range of motion is how far you can move without hurting yourself. Think about stepping over a large puddle; if you have to stretch your leg out ahead of you, you should be able to comfortably step over a large portion of a sidewalk or street. If you can’t make an extended step comfortably, it’s likely that you need to work on your flexibility. Smaller things like reaching up to the top cabinet or other extensions required in daily life can test your flexibility in small ways, and if you’re not working on your flexibility, those extension movements like reaching or stretching over things become more and more difficult over time.

There’s an important factor that balance and flexibility play in your daily life. Things like working out are a conscious effort, but its the subconscious movements that play a larger role in our physical wellness. Sometimes, being healthy means being able to do the simple things. It does not matter if you can bench press 180 pounds, or carry tires on your back for long distances; it’s more important to be able to move comfortably and do simple tasks without pain. Office exercises are very much centered on making sure that you can do those things in the day today. You don’t have to spend hours in the gym to stay active and healthy, but by doing office exercises, you’re likely going to stay in better shape than the coworker that spends all day sitting. It’s possible to still find ways to sit that can keep you in shape, it’s much easier to get on your feet and get active. As noted, chair squats are one of the best workouts you can do at your desk, and it helps to be able to do these each day to build those key attributes we discussed earlier: lower body strength, balance, and flexibility. Let’s take a look at the key to getting ready to do a chair squat.

Preparing for a Chair Squat Workout

You’ll want to do a few things before starting a chair squat workout. First thing’s first, go ahead and stretch a bit. You’ll want to focus the stretching on your lower body since that’s what will be utilized the most in the chair squat set. Start by lifting each leg and hugging at the knee to stretch out your quads. Alternatively, you can drop down into a lunge and hold it for a few seconds to stretch the same muscle. Your quads will be used most in the squat, so it’s good to loosen them up.

Next, determine what amount of the chair squats you’re going to do. Most trainers suggest doing things in sets and reps. Finding the right balance of sets and reps is important to a good workout. When you decide to workout in sets and reps, find the right number for you. A rep is one single workout motion, or in this case, one squat. A set is a collection of reps, often done in groups of 2-4. That would mean maybe you’re going to do 40 squats, but you’ll complete them in 4 sets of 10 reps of chair squats. That’s the best way to not overdo it, but also add up the amount of a workout that you’re doing to increase the effect they’ll have on your body.

Your rep and set total depend on you. If you’re new to working out and don’t have a lot of strength, go with lower sets and reps. For newcomers to a workout, it’s likely that you’ll want to keep it to 3 sets with no more than 8 reps. If you’re more experienced, consider moving that total up to 4 sets of 12 reps. Once you have your plan, follow these instructions for performing the perfect chair squat.

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Chair Squats: How to Do the Perfect Squat

  1. First, stand with your legs shoulder width apart in a position right in front of the chair. This will be the best way to set yourself up for a great chair squat. Make sure to not stand with your feet too far apart, or you’ll be unable to utilize the right muscles. If your feet are too close together, you’ll be forced to use your lower legs more than your quads, which is an entirely different workout altogether. With your feet shoulder width apart, you’re ready to move on.

  2. The squat motion is completed by pushing your knees down towards the sides of the chair while elongating your butt as if you were going to take a seat. It’s important for proper resistance and to not fully sit on the chair. If you gently hover over the chair, that’s okay, but it’s crucial you don’t sit down, or you lose the tension that is building in the workout.

  3. Hold the squat right above the chair for 1-5 seconds depending on your desired intensity. This way, you’re embracing the tension, and that’s what builds muscle. Make sure again not to sit, or you’ll lose your progress entirely.

  4. Use your lower body strength to push yourself back up to a standing position. Do not rush this motion and do it quickly. By slowing down your motions, you increase the efforts of your workout and the yield of your workout will be greater.

  5. Repeat your desired sets and reps and complete your workout.

One last thing to note in the sequence of the chair squats is that you don’t want to do this daily if you’re doing a high amount of reps. If you’re doing 100 a day, it’s going to get very difficult to keep this up long term without getting too sore or becoming injured. Stay careful throughout this workout to make sure you’re doing it properly.


Chair squats help you build strength, gain muscle, and increase your balance and flexibility. It’s crucial to make your physical health a priority, and times in the office where you have an extra 15 minutes are a wonderful time to take moments for yourself and do this exercise. If your coworkers seem interested, be sure to share this article with them and possibly build team fitness goals.

Things are not going to get less busy the more you move up in your company. It’s likely that as your responsibilities increase, so will your time spent working, meaning less time for you. Don’t let that be the reason your fitness and physical health suffer. Remember; mental health is important too, and staying active keeps your brain on its toes. Keep these things in mind for your work routine, and instead of taking a few minutes to sit on your phone or on the internet, take time to keep your body healthy and clear from injury. It’s not about being fit, it’s about being able to do basic activities over the period of your life. Your older self will thank you for the amazing efforts you make today to perform exercises that keep your body and mind at peace. There’s no better day to start than today.

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