Leg Extensions for Working at a Desk

A quick leg workout can help re-energize you at work.
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If you add up all the time you spend sitting each day, you might be surprised. There’s the time you spend commuting to and from work, eight or more hours at your desk, and don’t forget the time in front of your TV watching your nightly shows. Too much sitting can lead to health issues such as obesity, poor posture, cardiovascular disease and stiff joints. It may be hard to sneak away from your office to get in a quick workout, but some exercises, such as leg extensions, can be done right at your desk. Doing leg extensions a couple of times a day not only works out the kinks, but can help strengthen your legs.

Basic Technique

    Leg extensions can easily be done in your cubicle or office; you don't need a lot of space. Move your chair away from your desk to give you room to lift your legs without hitting anything. Sit up tall with your back straight, and start with your knees bent 90 degrees and your feet flat on the floor. Slowly extend your right leg and lift it straight in front of you until it is parallel to the floor. Point your toes toward the ceiling, hold for a count of five and then return your foot to the floor. After one set repeat with your left leg.

Muscle Action

    Your quadriceps, commonly referred to as your quads, is the primary muscle group used when you perform leg extensions. Your quads consist of four muscles located on the front of your thigh. When you do leg extensions, all four muscles work together during the upward and downward movement of your lower leg. As you extend your knee and straighten your leg, your quads contract and shorten. As you might suspect, they lengthen during the downward movement.


    If basic leg extensions are not challenging enough, you can increase the intensity by strapping on a pair of ankle weights. With your ankle weights on, you can also do standing leg extensions while holding onto your chair or desk for support. To do this, start with your weight on your left leg, bend your right hip and knee 90 degrees and lift your right leg until your thigh is parallel to the floor. Now, simply use the basic seated technique to extend and lower your lower leg. Switch legs after one set. Another option is to use a resistance band while seated. Tie one end around the rear leg of your chair, the other end around your ankle and perform the exercise with the same motion.


    Even though you may only spend 10 to 15 minutes at a time doing leg extensions, perform a quick, five-minute warm-up to loosen up and get your blood flowing. Try walking up and down a few flights of stairs or jumping jacks. Start with one set of 10 to 15 reps with each leg. If time permits do two or three sets. Keep your movements slow and controlled while maintaining your regular breathing pattern. Keeping your stomach muscles tight throughout adds to the effectiveness of the exercise.

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