From Desk Job Back to Boot Camp Shape

From Desk Job Back to Boot Camp Shape

10. That is the number of years since your job demanded sweat, laps, push-​​ups and you being out of breath. It s also the number of push-​​ups you can do now since you’ve been sitting at the desk and exercising only your fingers on the keyboard. But don’t worry, your muscles have memory and they know that tone and strength are possible.

Start from the inside out. — Mind, Heart, Core and Posture

The first place to start is your mind. Look at the bright side, you have it better than most people out there who have never been in tip top shape. Their muscles and endurance have never been made to work and therefore they maybe could never to what you can and will do. Make up your mind to make over your body.

Now you are ready for some easy cardio. This will remind your muscles what it is to be warm and work while letting your build up your heart and core first. On your cardio days also do abdominals and back strengthening exercises. Getting your heart back to pumping with ease should come before you can really work the rest of you.

As I discussed in the last column, and you should focus on running, biking, rowing, elliptical and walking. Start with 10 minutes on one machine and do 10 on the next machine the next day. Take it outside as well. Get to where you change it up every day you work out and increase gradually from 10 minutes to 30 at a time.

Your core also needs to be strong before you can really work the rest of the extremities. Crunches should be combined with lower back moves every day you exercise. I went over some basic abdominal crunches in the last column as well, so for the low back it’s as easy as laying face down on the ground and lifting your arms straight overhead and up with along with your legs. Leave your neck in line with the spine and look at the floor as you lift the arms, head, chest, shoulders knees and feet off the floor. Hold for two seconds and relax back to the floor. Repeat 8–12 times. Finish with a cat stretch on all fours with your spine rounding to the ceiling.

Back not Pecs

When at a desk, you end up rounding your shoulders and slouching. Your pectoral muscles get tight and your trapezious and rhomboids get stretched and weak. In your first week of getting back in shape, also start with your posture and correct the problems of years of desk work and stretch the pecs while strengthening your upper back with reverse flies, bent over rows, and machines.

Once your core is stronger, your pecs are stretched and your upper back muscles are strong enough to pull your shoulders back, you should be standing tall and ready to move on.

The Marathon and Machines

Ok, so you won’t need to run a marathon, but your next cardio goal is 40–50 minutes, doing different machines for 15 minutes each, or just taking our outdoor running and biking longer. You are also ready to move to muscle building in your biceps, triceps, shoulders, pectorals, quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, glutes, and inner and outer thighs . Start with some basic muscle building moves on machines. Chose machines first that let the rest of your body rest and just focus on your arms one day (and yes you can add chest press machines and push-​​up simulator) and legs the next. Day 1– arms, day 2 — legs, day 3 — cardio and core, day 4 off and then repeat.

After you are building strength back, take yourself off the machines and into free weights and balancing leg moves like lunges and squats. These will also start working your core at the same time to balance and keep your form.

Change up your cardio workouts by adding some uphill jogs to your running days. Take the elliptical in reverse for 2 minutes and forward for 2 minutes at a time. Try a spinning class to challenge your bike days or chose different trails outside.


After you start feeling stronger with the muscle isolation, you are ready to multi-​​task! This is a great time saver and will kick up your results. You just need to add lower body non-​​machine moves with a free weight exercise for the arms. Start with the basic alternating lunges with bicep curl and shoulder overhead presses. Calf raises and triceps French presses overhead and so on.

By then, 10 will be the number of push-​​ups you have left to get to 50.

Fitness, Fit it in.


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Crunch Manhattan Group Fitness Instructor/Personal Trainer

NikkiFitness is a personal trainer, group exercise instructor, writer and publicist living in New York City. She started as a cheerleader at Syracuse University, but became certified in fitness before her beach wedding so that she could get back in shape. Laura, a graduate student, working mom, and military wife, inspired Nikki's Military Wife Workout (MWW) for all military wives. Find more articles by Nikki at her Military Fitness Center archive. Learn more at

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