Trying to squeeze in workouts all week between actual work and all those not-ready-to-say-goodbye-to-summer happy hours can feel like the schedule equivalent of Jenga. The obvious solution if you can't get to the gym is to find a way to work fitness into your day. Sure, that seems like a great idea, and one plenty of publications have already covered. The problem? All those exercises they recommend are ones that would make you feel like a total tool to do in public. Sorry, but we're not doing squat thrusts at the bus stop — that's one way to get all the wrong kinds of attention.
The solution: Exercise moves that are not only effective, but no one will even know you're doing them. The covert ops of fitness, if you will. This cunning workout, designed by Ben Hart, an NYC personal trainer and co-founder of Qinetic, an online fitness and wellness network, will help give you body-toning benefits wherever, whenever. And you don't have to worry about some creepy dude leering at you squatting on a street corner.
Click through to see the tiny, sneaky tweaks you can make each day to transform your body on the sly.
Photographed by Alexandra R. Gavillet; Illustrated by Austin Watts
Step Up Your Stair Moves For A Better Bum
Because like with most things in life, two is better than one when it comes to running up subway stairs or jetting to another floor at the office. “Taking one stair at a time will not activate your glutes,” says Hart. “But, taking two steps will allow your legs to stretch a bit further, activating the muscles in your behind as well as your hamstrings.”
How to do it: "Press off of your heel when going to the second step up to hit your glute optimally," he says. Do it every time you take the stairs — and skip the elevator or the escalator as much as possible.
Sculpt Your Thighs While You Check Off Your To-Do List
Your legs can act like resistant bands and get sculpted all while you while away the day at your desk — multitasking at its finest.
How to do it: As you sit at your table or desk, straighten your legs and cross one over the other. Push up with the bottom leg, and push down with the top leg, squeezing the two together. “This exercise essentially requires little movement,” explains Hart. “But it activates the quad muscles during the process and the front of your legs should also feel it.” Aim for six to eight sets, alternating legs, and hold each for approximately 20 seconds.
Stretch While You Wait To Cross The Street
Sure, going from gorgeous Miu Miu heels to totally cute flats might seem like a good idea, but it can also make your calves — and Achilles — feel like a shortened rubber band. That's why pulling them down the opposite way can help lengthen calves and give legs fast, feel-good relief.
How to do it: Put one foot on the edge of a curb (or stair) so that your heel sinks below it as far as it can until you feel a slight pull along the back of your leg. Then raise your heel back up and complete 15 reps — or hold for 40 seconds — then swap feet.
Give Achy Feet A Little Extra TLC
Your feet are the unsung heroes of your body, schlepping you from point A to point B, usually in some excessively uncomfortable shoes. Give your soles a mini-massage and work your calves in the process with this on-the-sly move — it releases muscle tension in your foot and helps stretch out tightened muscles.
How to do it: Place a softball or tennis ball underneath your foot and roll it back and forth very slowly. This would also work with a golf ball to release tension on the foot if you have been walking or standing all day. Try three to five minutes on each foot once or twice a day.
Get Sexy Arms Just By Carrying Your Bag
You don’t have to go to SoulCycle to sneak in a two-pound mini bicep workout — because face it, your Céline weighs that, if not more. “Instead of carrying your bag the traditional way — on your shoulder — mix it up and hang it on your upper forearm,” says Hart. “This gives your bicep and parts of your shoulder a bit more resistance throughout the day.”
How to do it: Keep your arm bent at a 90 degree angle while you hold your bag, making sure to alternate arms to give each side an equal workout.
Squat While You Sit
If you think about it, your body is doing one of the best leg and butt moves more hours than you’d like to admit — it’s just that instead of holding yourself in the perfect squat position, your chair is. “If you focus on squatting as you go to sit, you’ll activate those muscles,” says Hart.
How to do it: “Push your hips back as you go to take a seat and keep your body weight on your heels when you sit or stand,” he says. And, crucial tip: “Try taking a little longer on the way down — like five seconds — which will quickly hit your glutes and legs,” explains Hart.
Get A Flatter Belly While You Check Your Email
When you sit at your desk you end up crossing your legs 99.9 percent of the time, right? Well, that’s a killer core move just waiting to happen. “If you straighten them out and lift them slightly, you engage your core and thigh muscles,” says Hart.
How to do it: "Put one leg over the other and focus on pulling both of your legs up with your abs — engaging your legs and hips as little as possible," he says. Try three sets of 15 reps two times a day for some covert core work right in the office.
Tone Your Triceps From Your Chair
Because, it turns out, armrests don’t have to be used to rest your arms at all.
How to do it: “While sitting down, lower your body weight down into the chair with your arms — particularly focusing on using your triceps,” says Hart. “And, when getting out of your chair, push your body out with mostly your arms. The idea here is to mock a real tricep dip move where your arms can get a workout from pushing your body weight up and out.” Do these in mini sets throughout the day, like two sets of 15 or 20 reps.