As part of my health office routine I have added incline push-ups (feet on floor, hands on desk) to my daily schedule. Currently I am easily doing 25 every two hours. I don't have a real desire put my hands on the office floor nor the space, so I don't want to do full push-up.

In order to take it to the next level, I am wavering between increasing to 50 incline push-ups every two hours OR doing 25 every hour (I have an hourly reminder to get up and stretch)

I looked online and found a bunch of forums with a lot of opinions, but not a lot of science.

I want to increase muscle mass and tone, to combat my sedentary work life. I just had my annual physical, and am in perfect health, with no restrictions on physical activity (common sense).

Which is going to be the healthiest choice; more at one time, or the same amount more often?

  • 2
    Have a look at this answer. As others have said, you need to increase intensity, not volume or frequency. If you don't want to put your hands on the floor, get a push-up bar, for example.
    – BKE
    May 13, 2015 at 19:25

4 Answers 4


Go to one-handed desk pushups. Spread your legs a little more and leave the supporting hand off-centre: you will get a more intense workout, building strength in the arms and adding some additional core muscles.

If you can do 25 with two hands you can probably do 5 with one - if needed, start against the wall and go lower as you build additional strength.


The sad truth is, if you can do as many as 25, you're not building strength by doing it any more. You're building endurance. You won't be getting leaner, or build bigger muscles.

But if you're doing it anyway, do 25 every two hours instead, because you should be taking mini-pauses in your seated work-day regardless. Hell, once an hour would be even better.

But my best tip: To combat any negative effects on your posture due to sitting for too long (and I should know, I'm a software developer by day, avid gym-goer by night), you should do stretches. There are a ton of stretches you can do without even leaving your seat.

I'd list some, but if I did, I'd have to describe them with words, and I'd end up listing too many because there are so many good ones, but I found some pictures here: http://www.healthline.com/health-slideshow/deskercise

I'm particularly fond of the one they call The Freedom Search (and now I regret linking it, because those are some ridiculously horrible names). This stretch is almost like an hourly reset-button for your slouched posture. Hold it for a minute or so, back arched backwards over the back of your chair, head leaned even further back, open your mouth wide, and take good, deep breaths. It's a bit of an energy booster as well. Gives you a good surge of oxygen.

In the picture it shows them sitting on the tip of their seat, but I prefer really arching over the back of the chair. If you're lucky, you might get a few pops as well.


Since you are already getting up every hour to stretch, I would do the 25 pushups every hour, as that will add less than a minute to your stretching routine. As your endurance builds you can gradually increase that amount as desired.

However, if you want to increase muscle mass and tone, then the approach you are taking is going to be of extremely limited use. In an incline pushup, you are mildly engaging abdominal and lower back muscles, the triceps and chest. However, you aren't using them enough to really build mass. You are also doing nothing that would stress your cardiovascular system.

If you want to combat a sedentary lifestyle, you really need a component that stresses your cardiovascular system, preferably at least 20 minutes, 3x per week, and a component that also helps build muscle and tone. There are many activities that fit both of these, such as circuit training, swimming, cycling/running with upper body weight supplementation, etc. I would recommend finding an activity that you enjoy doing, and making it a part of your daily lifestyle.

More and more studies are coming out that show how bad a sedentary desk job/lifestyle can be, so I encourage you to combat this in any way you can and the sooner the better.

  • I don't see how that answers the question...
    – Cedric H.
    May 14, 2015 at 9:34
  • 1
    This is a good answer on how to combat a sedentary lifestyle in general, but it completely disregards the whole "at the office" component of the question.
    – Alec
    May 14, 2015 at 11:26
  • @Alec - Good point. Edited.
    – JohnP
    May 14, 2015 at 14:49

I've started doing something similar and after a week I decided to ramp things up a bit. So I now do the following, every 2 hours I do 25 Hindu Squats, 25 hindu Pushups (perhaps u can swap this with vertical pushups) and 25 backbrides (you can swap that with wall walking back bridges if you dont want to touch the floor). I did this for a week (Mon-Friday) and I feel like superman. I will be increasing the reps by 5 reps on each exercise this week.

Before I increased the reps I was basically doing around 4 sets of the above.. so that works out to 100 squats, 100 push ups and 100 backbridges per day. Not too shabby I'd say :)

  • 2
    This reads more like an anecdote than an answer to the question.
    – Alec
    Sep 22, 2015 at 7:46

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