My coworkers and I decided to start doing a 30 second max effort "workout" every hour to help us keep from getting too "desk bound" and to add a little bit more volume to our normal workout routines.

We only have bodyweight for these movements, so we're thinking of doing things like push up variations, inverted rows (on the sides of our desks), squats, situps, that sort of thing.

We're not sure if we should pick a body part per day and do variations on it, or if we should do a different body part per 30 second session.

We're trying to think of a routine for hourly exercises. We'd need eight exercises (one for each hour that we'll all be here). Any suggestions?

  • Done right, this could keep the body in semi-sports-mode all day long. Not sure if 30s every hour is enough, though. Someone answer already!
    – user8119
    Apr 24, 2014 at 17:45
  • @LarissaGodzilla - What is a "semi sports mode"?
    – JohnP
    Apr 25, 2014 at 14:41
  • @JohnP: I imagine it's when your body just did sports, or expects you to do sports (after warm up). Not couch-mode, not sports-mode, but more the latter than the first :)
    – user8119
    Apr 28, 2014 at 6:21
  • @LarissaGodzilla - Mmm...not really. The body doesn't quite react that way.
    – JohnP
    Apr 28, 2014 at 14:58
  • @JohnP: Given your background I'm tempted to believe you. But are you telling me the 'afterburn' from HIIT isn't real?
    – user8119
    Apr 29, 2014 at 6:43

2 Answers 2


We came up with a push / pull / legs routine with some pretty standard stuff:

Monday, Wednesday, Friday:

  • 9AM (push): Clapping pushup
  • 10AM (pull): Inverted row (under a desk)
  • 11AM (legs): Bulgarian split squat (foot on chair)
  • 1PM (push): Chest dips in (facing) corner of desk / counter top
  • 2PM (pull): Inverted row (feet elevated)
  • 3PM (legs): Sissy squat or single leg squat
  • 4PM (push): Pike pushup
  • 5PM (abs): Plank (for time)

Tuesday, Thursday:

  • 9AM (push): Decline pushup
  • 10AM (pull): Inverted row (under a desk)
  • 11AM (legs): Wall sit (for time)
  • 1PM (push): Reverse dips (feet elevated)
  • 2PM (pull): Inverted row (feet elevated)
  • 3PM (legs): Sissy squat or single leg squat
  • 4PM (push): Pike pushup or handstand hold
  • 5PM (abs): V-Ups

Here's a table:

enter image description here

The idea is to go with maximum intensity for 30 seconds (unless otherwise stated). We're finding that it gets the heart rate going a little bit but doesn't make us sweat, exhausts the muscle a little bit, gets us out of our chairs every hour, and is fun because it builds some team morale.

  • Why the downvote? What is wrong with this answer?
    – dotancohen
    Apr 29, 2014 at 13:22
  • @dotancohen The other person who answered didn't like how things worked out, so I was blanket downvoted for this question and answer. The full transcript can be read in the comments section to the other answer.
    – Daniel
    Apr 29, 2014 at 14:04
  • I see, I've had that happen on SO. My upvote is worth a bit more than those downvotes :)
    – dotancohen
    Apr 29, 2014 at 14:06
  • 1
    I still think that 60 or 90 seconds would be a better idea without ending up pouring sweat for the rest of your workday, but on the whole I think this is an absolutely brilliant idea.
    – alesplin
    Apr 30, 2014 at 20:54
  • @alesplin Yeah! I think you're right. We're finding that some of these exercises are too easy to get much fatigue after 30 seconds, so we're extending them to, say, 30 seconds per leg with the bulgarian squats, or as long as possible with the wall sits. 30 seconds seems pretty good for some of the exercises though, especially since some of the people joining in have very little experience. I think you're right though -- if we keep this up, we'll have to increase the length of time per exercise -- at least for progressive overload.
    – Daniel
    May 1, 2014 at 21:58

Hi Doc,

I did something similar a while back and I think you're unlikely to continue the process for a long time.

First reason is because the time frame is too short. You have limited effective exercises to complete within 30 seconds. You're more likely to quit after realizing it isn't that effective and seems like a waste of time.

Second reason (and this is much more important than the first) is that you're at work and cannot predict how each day (or hours of the day) will go. One day, you might have meetings all day and the next, be free all day. Another day, you might be so busy and buried in work that you don't even remember making a plan to work out. Before you realize it, you're skipping a lot of these exercises.

Here's what currently works for me:

I scheduled a time at work (12 noon to be exact) and allocated a location to it. Once it's 12 noon, I simply set aside whatever I'm doing, go into this location and work up a huge sweat for 20 - 30 minutes. Most of my exercises involve body-weight exercises in cardio form (completed as fast as possible). This is done every workday.

On days that I cannot do it at 12noon because of a busy schedule or room availability, I simply continue with my work till it's finished (or the room is available) and I go in to pleasure myself.

I always come out drenched and with a smile on my face (with the feeling that I've accomplished something for the day)

Here are the exercises I perform (I sometimes add more, but I ensure these are a must):

  • Starting with a 2-min plank (I started with 1-min and worked my way to 2+ mins).
  • 45+ seconds each of side planks for my obliques.
  • 20 burpees (yes, including the jumps)
  • 50 reverse crunches (with my arms behind my head and not by my side). I use straight legs (forming an L) instead of bent knees to increase the pressure on the abs. Also, my calves and legs never touch the ground until the reps are finished (or I'm resting).
  • 50 regular crunches. I raise my upper chest as high as possible without putting strain on my neck.
  • Not sure what the name is, but I'll describe it. Starting from the regular crunches position described above, I make my right elbow touch my left knees (and vice versa) in an oblique fashion. I currently do 20 of those.
  • 40 reverse crunches (this time, with bent knees). Again, the legs don't touch the ground until the reps are over.
  • I don't know the name of this exercise, but anyone familiar with P90X Core video knows the move. Perform one push-up, then pull your leg knee towards your stomach, (touching it if possible). Return the knee back to its pushup position. Then, another push-up and same pull the second knee towards the stomach. A third push-up and then jump into a squat (similar to burpees move) and stand up. That completes one routine. I currently perform 7 of those.
  • 50 standing crunches
  • I end the session with 1-min handstand (currently against the wall) (I sometimes perform more than one set, if I'm not too exhausted).

I add some other exercises to it time and again, and always try to increase the intensity/reps.

This works for me and I usually burn about 450 calories at the end of the session. The afterburn is just icing on the cake :).

If you increase the frequency of the daily workouts, you'll likely burn out after a few sessions or quit. But if you allocate specific times of the day and a location, you're likely to progress farther.

I also have other daily routines I perform, besides those described above. But apart from my regular workout sessions, that is the most intense session I currently use.

That's my routine. Find yours and stick to it. If you do so, you'll derive much benefits from doing so.

Only Update To This Answer

I haven't touched my original answer, which is everything above this update.

I've received some flak from some users because they believe I was wrong to suggest that the program is unlikely to progress long-term. I've tried explaining my reasoning to them, but they wouldn't hear none of it. So, I'm updating this answer with a challenge (mainly for scientific curiosity) for the practical minds:

For 2 whole months, perform the accepted answer (given by Doc), 30 seconds every work hour (8 times for an 8-hr shift, 4 times for a 4-hr shift, etc.). If possible, measure the calories burned during the exercises.

At the end of the period, reflect on how many times you missed the sessions (if any) and the reasons.

Then perform my answer (or a related routine that consists of High Intensity exercises for about 20 minutes once a day at work) for 2 months. Again, if possible, measure the calories burned.

At the end of the period, reflect on the sessions and determine how many sessions missed, total calories burned, etc.

Based on the comparison of the two routines, answer the following answers:
Which routine are you likely to stick with?
Why was the unchosen routine not chosen?
Based on your work schedule and location, which of the routines allow you the flexibility to be in shape without sacrificing work productivity?
If possible, can you share your experiences with both routines?

Again, the purpose of this challenge isn't to prove that my answer is valid (although it might be a byproduct), it's to determine how practical both routines are in various work disciplines. Also, to satisfy scientific curiosity.

Another equally important reason is this: A lot of people follow exercise routines with flawed designs (without their knowledge). And if/when they end up quitting, they blamed themselves for failing, without realizing that the fault lies with the program itself. When we advise users on routines, our goal is to ensure they are well designed so that the users would be helped on the long run. I don't see a point in giving users routines that they'll abandon after 2 weeks.

So please, if you participate in this challenge, share your experiences so we can all benefit from them.

Thank you.

  • 1
    ZOD, thanks for the long and well thought-out answer. Unfortunately I can't accept "don't bother, do this instead" as an answer. We're all experienced in fitness and sports and (as I mentioned) we're doing this in addition to our normal workout routines. We can't get sweaty for obvious reasons. I got the idea for this from an Elliott Hulse video where he advises a person interested in doing more pullups to do as many pullups as possible every hour during the day, just to get more training volume. But, we also found this to be a good approach to keeping the body from getting "desk bound".
    – Daniel
    Apr 25, 2014 at 13:16
  • @Doc What I outlined above was not my normal workout routine. That was just to keep the blood pumping at work. You can try the 30 seconds per hour plan; however, if you can keep it up for 3 months without missing at least 30% of the sessions, I'll revise my answer with an apology. Unless you work in a place where everything is pre-determined, I don't see that happening. BTW, my initial plan, which was similar to yours, was performing crunches every 2 hours; it didn't last a week. Apr 25, 2014 at 14:24
  • @Kneel-Before-ZOD - Just because you can't see it happening, doesn't mean it can't/shouldn't be tried. This is not an answer, it's an anecdote. (And I'm afraid to ask what going into a room to pleasure yourself really means...)
    – JohnP
    Apr 25, 2014 at 14:36
  • @JohnP I'm not telling him not to try. I'm simply saying that I haven't come across anyone who has successfully done it for a long period of time. Have you? Which is why, if he succeeds, I'll definitely upvote him (and would probably ask him more about how he did it) . I'm here to learn too (as long as it's practical) Apr 25, 2014 at 14:45
  • @JohnP You downvoted my answer because it's an anecdote? The question asked for suggestions, which I gave. And while the answer gave my personal opinion of the routine (along with the reasons) , it ultimately answered the question. So, the downvote was unnecessary. Until the plan has become a practical success, that's when you have the standing to downvote an answer. But it seems you'd downvote anything you disagree with, even if you're not correct about it. Apr 25, 2014 at 14:51

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.