As you may have noticed, last week I took a one week break from the Fitness Friday schedule to post my interview with Uma Thurman.  Seemed like an okay substitution, although some have asked if I was planning on bringing little Ms. Rachel back…. Well, of course I am!

And because I am a selfish-type blogger I kept this week’s post to something that I could benefit from – exercises you can do at work, specifically for the lower body!  Hope you enjoy and pass it along…..

Here are a few easy lower-body exercises for squeezing fitness into your day at work.Whenever you have a few minutes choose one exercise and complete the recommended number of reps and sets.  Remember to always warm-up prior to beginning any physical activity. You can do this by taking a quick 3-5 minute walk through your office.

Note: Maintaining good posture throughout the entire range of motion is critical to prevent injury and get the most out of the exercise. This means abs drawn in, chest up, shoulders drawn back and down, chin parallel to the floor, and hips tucked.  Breathing is also very important.Typically you should inhale on the first phase of the exercise and exhale as you exert force.For example, this means inhaling as you sit into a squat and exhaling as you stand up. Be sure to remove your shoes if you work in heels before performing these exercises!

Squats: Stand in front of a chair with feet hip-width apart, abs in and back straight. Keeping your chest up, slowly bend your knees and lower your butt until it just touches the chair. Pause for 2-3 seconds and, pressing through the heels, return to standing position. Repeat for 12-15 reps, 2-3 sets.

Lunges: Stand with your feet together, hands on hips. Take a step forward with your right leg, bending both knees and lower into a lunge, keeping the front knee behind the toe.  Do not allow the knee to touch the ground. Press through the heel to push back up to standing. Repeat for 10-15 reps, 2-3 sets each leg,

Hip abduction: Stand sideways to a chair or wall for support and lift one leg out to the side, foot flexed and hips, knees, and feet in alignment. Repeat for 12-15 reps, 2-3 sets each leg.

Hip extension: Stand facing the back of a stable chair or wall for support and extend right leg straight out behind you, squeezing your butt to lift leg. Pause while continuing to Exercise At Worksqueeze glutes, then lower.Be sure to keep your hips level throughout the entire range of motion.Repeat for 12-15 reps, 2-3 sets each leg.

Calf raises: Standing with your feet close together and lightly holding onto a chair or wall for support, rise up onto your tiptoes.Pause and lower. Maintain erect body posture.Repeat for 12-15 reps, 2-3 sets.This can also be done on stairs with the heels hanging off the step. *If you wear heels all day I would skip this one since the calf muscles are in a constantly contracted state. Instead, be sure to stretch your calves.

Wall sit: Stand in front of a wall and lean against it.  Slide down until the thighs are parallel to the floor (or higher for an easier version) and hold for 20-60 seconds. Your head, shoulders, and back should maintain contact with the wall.Do not hold your breath!

Throw in a few 5-10 minute walks (walking stairs is a good option too), some stretches, and you’re on your way!

ABOUT RACHEL: Rachel Swartz-Hartje is an NASM certified personal trainer and is currently completing her degree in community health promotion.  She enjoRachel ys running, bodybuilding and torturing her clients (and friends) into submission.  She is definitely a bad-ass.  Don’t let her nice profile picture fool you. Her mantra? “Discipline is the Bridge Between Goals and Accomplishments.” Oh yeah, she also used to be in the Navy.  Don’t. Mess. With. Her.