Training Hack: 100 Push-ups in a Work Day

Push-up doll

Our days are filled with obligations, deadlines and general busyness. Time is a scarce commodity and it can be challenging to squeeze everything in. Workouts are no exception to this. So while writing my thesis in college I used a little hack that allowed me to get some physical activity into the time spent hunched over my computer.

All you need for this is a timer (most cellphones have one these days) and free space on the floor near where you work. Here’s how it works: when you sit down at your desk, set the timer to 45 minutes. Once it goes off, get up and do ten push-ups. Then reset the timer and resume working. Rinse and repeat. If you do this throughout a normal 9 to 5 workday, by 4.30pm you will have done a respectable 100 push-ups.

Here’s what’s great about it:

  • It only takes about 60 seconds to complete, that’s ten minutes per workday.
  • Spreading sets out like that gives your muscles plenty of time to recover before attacking the next one. That way you can complete a larger number of repetitions than you would usually do during one workout.
  • Tension is released that might build up from sitting at a desk for an extended period of time.
  • Exercise keeps your blood flowing and helps you stay awake and concentrated.
  • Push-ups are a thorough workout for many different body parts at once. For example the triceps, chest, shoulders, back and core muscles.

This hack will sit especially well with those practicing the pomodoro technique. You can even use it as a productivity tool on its own and take bets with yourself how much work you will have done until the timer goes off again.

There is plenty of room for variation: The timing is absolutely flexible as is the number of push-ups. Depending on your level you might start with less. By the end of my thesis I was doing sets of 20 every half hour (it was a magical time). The push-up itself is also an exercise of wide variation. And of course, substituting the whole exercise and doing air squats or crunches instead is an option as well.

The approach is probably best suited for people from home or those with an office to themselves. However, it can also be a fun way to test the boundaries of your coworkers or people in the college library. If you do that, let me know how it went. (Or find an empty hallway, bathroom stall or otherwise secluded area).

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