The fact that you're swamped at work isn't an excuse to let your lower-body go to pot. If you're glued to your office chair all day, you have an even greater responsibility to work out your legs. If you can't get to the gym this week or if you're looking to supplement your regular gym routine, close your office door, switch off your phone and break out your trusty resistance band. If you plan to work the entire leg in a single session, work large muscle groups -- such as your quads and hamstrings -- before smaller stabilizers. Finish off with gentle stretches to prevent soreness and preserve flexibility.
Step away from your desk and warm up with five to 10 minutes of general physical activity. Run the stairs, take a brisk walk up and down the hallway or jog in place. When you break a light sweat, perform a few dynamic lower-body stretches to further prepare your leg muscles for action. Hackey-sacks, lateral lunges, butt kicks, pike stretches and light leg swings across the body are all great for warming up your legs without over-stressing the muscles and joints.
Scoot toward the edge of your chair to work your glutes, quads and hamstrings. Loop the middle of the band around the sole of your right foot. Grasp the ends of the band with both hands and bend your right knee, drawing the knee toward your chest. Brace your hands against your left ribcage as you straighten the working leg downward, pushing against the band's resistance. Hold the extension briefly and then slowly return to the initial bent-knee position. Complete one to three sets of 12 to 15 reps. Switch legs.
Place your feet hip-width apart on the floor in front of you as preparation for an outer thigh exercise. Tie the ends of the band together around your lower legs and position the band just under your knees. Sit with your spine straight and grasp the edges of your seat with your hands. Keeping your left foot firmly planted, flex and raise your right foot several inches off the floor. Gently open the right knee and thigh to the right, pressing into the band. Hold briefly and then return the leg to center. Repeat 12 to 15 times, keeping your movements small, smooth and rhythmic. Rest for several seconds and then repeat for a total of one to three sets before switching legs.
Prepare the band for inner thigh work. Anchor one end of the band to a stationary object located to your right. Attach the other end to your right leg, just below the knee. Sit straight with your head aligned over your spine and your back in a neutral position as you flex your right foot and raise your right thigh slightly off the chair. Maintaining the leg's bent position and keeping your knee over your ankle, gently move the working leg inward, pulling the band toward your body's midline. Hold the position briefly and then relax the leg outward. Complete one to three sets of 12 to 15 reps before switching legs.
Extend your right leg in front of you for an exercise that targets your calves and shins. Flex your right foot and loop the middle of the band around the ball of the foot. Grasping one end of the band in each hand, pull your elbows back to remove slack. Pressing your elbows into your sides, point your toes away from you, pressing into the band. Hold the position briefly and then slowly return the foot to a flexed position. Complete one to three sets of 12 to 15 slow, steady reps. Switch legs.
Work your hip flexors by tying the band in a small, rather tight loop. Place your feet together on the floor in front of you with the band circling around both insteps and under both soles. Flex your right hip and foot as you draw the right knee toward your chest. Avoid movement in the torso. Hold the raised position briefly and then slowly lower the foot to the floor. Complete one to three sets of 12 to 15 slow, steady reps. Switch legs.
- The Scientific and Clinical Application of Elastic Resistance; Phil Page and Todd S. Ellenbecker
- Runner's World: A Dynamic Routine
- Stronger Legs and Lower Body; Tim Bishop
- If your chair has wheels, lock them or push the back of the chair against a wall before proceeding with your workout.
- Wear clothing that protects your skin from contact with the band.
- Work in a slow, smooth, controlled manner. Avoid jerky movements that could result in muscle strain.
- Exhale during the more challenging phase of every rep.
- Work with a band that suits your current fitness level. Exercising with a band that offers too much resistance can result in injury; working with too little resistance won't produce strength gains. If you can perform three sets of 15 reps without fatigue, bump up to the next resistance level rather than "shortening up."
- Check your band for signs of damage before using it. Small cuts and thin, worn spots can lead to sudden tearing, which can cause injury.
- If you are allergic to latex, work with a latex-free band.
Judy Fisk has been writing professionally since 2011, specializing in fitness, recreation, culture and the arts. A certified fitness instructor with decades of dance training, she has taught older adults, teens and kids. She has written educational and fundraising material for several non-profit organizations and her work has appeared in numerous major online publications. Fisk holds a Bachelor of Arts in public and international affairs from Princeton University.