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Workouts for workaholics

By Brinda Sapat
November 11, 2014 13:35 IST
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If you, like so many of us, are a workaholic, you better start working out super quick. Fitness expert Brinda Sapat has these suggestions.

Here are little secrets and an express workout that will make your colleagues wonder how you pull it off!

Getting fit isn't quite as difficult as people make it out to be. Basically the body needs to be physically active through the day and your food intake must be sensible. It's a simple theory!

Your daily schedule:

Photograph: William Cho/Creative Commons

  • Wake up an hour and a half before you need to leave for work. Eat a fruit like banana to jump start your body.
  • Do the 15 minute express workout (4 days a week).
  • Eat a breakfast of cereal (unsweetened) of your choice with skimmed milk, an egg white/low fat cheese, whole grain toast, fruit and tea/coffee (skip sugar).
  • If your work place is close by, walk. If you take a car or bus, get off at least ten minutes walking distance away and walk the rest of the way.
  • Take the stairs to your office or at least walk up 3 floors.
  • Within the first half of your day, until lunch, you need to get in one snack which should be either a handful of nuts or a fruit with tea/coffee (skip sugar). Snacking raises the metabolic level making you burn more fat.
  • You also need to move physically. So get off your chair, walk around and if you can squeeze in another round of climbing 3 floors... Perfect!!
  • Try to stay active. Get on your feet and move every chance you get, even if it's simply to pass on a file, share a joke with your colleague or get some water.
  • Stretch out your neck, shoulders, back, chest, arms and legs. This will prevent the stiffness from sitting for long and also the long term damage stiffness can do.

Lunch time!

Chapattis with veggies and sprouts or a whole grain sandwich with a low fat filling and sprouts are ideal. If you prefer something else, keep this composition in mind: Equal parts of carbohydrate (chapatti, rice, bread, pasta) + veggies + proteins (lentils, pulses, soya, low fat cheese, fish, chicken, egg, low fat dairy)

Back to your desk!

Try and take at least 3 active breaks before you leave.

Snack time:

Pick anything low fat -- yoghurt, nuts, fruits, carrots and cucumber sticks, whatever you like.

On your way home, make sure you do the ten minutes of walking again. Pop in your head phones and favourite music to keep going. This is the last of your day’s physical activity. You can plonk yourself on the couch once home, without feeling guilty now!

Dinner time:

  • Something light, flavourful and satisfying does it. Here's the formula:
  • Largest portion should be proteins, followed by veggies and the smallest of carbohydrates.
  • Grilled fish/chicken or cooked in a light curry with a salad or stir fried veggies and some rice/chapatti/bread.
  • The vegetarian option: Lentils/pulses cooked as you like with a salad or stir fried veggies and some rice/chapatti/bread.
  • And let's look at what you have achieved!
  • Wonderfully nutritious food in your system AND a total of 35 minutes of exercise! What's also very important here is the extra calories you burned by keeping physically active through the day and by eating often.
  • This regime will also improve your concentration levels, self confidence and will give you an overall sense of well being.
  • When can you see a result?
  • You will start feeling good in 2 weeks and expect a visible difference at the end of the month. Keep this up permanently and you will always be fit!

The Express Workout

Wear workout shoes, and comfortable clothes. Plug in some good music and keep a clock with a seconds hand right in front of you.

Warm up (3 minutes):

  • 1 minute of jogging on the spot
  • 1/2 minute of jumping jacks
  • 1/2 minute of knee raises
  • And repeat all

High Intensity Training Exercises (8 minutes):

20 seconds of squats, 10 seconds rest. Repeat this 4 times.



Stand with your feet just a little more than hip-distance apart. Hold your arms up in front of you with your fingers linked. Lower your body as if you were sitting in a chair placed way behind you, making sure to not let your knees bend forwards over your toes.

Push your heels into the floor and get back to standing position, without locking your knees.

20 seconds of push ups, 10 seconds rest. Repeat this 4 times

Push ups:

Push Ups

Lie face down on a mat. Come up on your feet and place your hands wide apart. Keep your hip in line with the body. Holding your body in that straight line, bend your elbows and lower your body towards the floor.

Squeeze your chest and push yourself back up to start position. Do not arch your back.

20 seconds of Row & Flyes, 10 seconds of rest. Repeat this 4 times.

Rows & Flyes:

Rows and Flyes

Take a pair of dumbbells or water bottles of one litre in each hand. Get into a lunge position taking one leg way ahead of the other like a large stride. Lean forwards and let both hands hang down by your sides. Raise the dumbbells by bending your elbows making them glide past your waist bringing the dumbbells into the armpits.

Lower them down again. This is a Row.

Now in that bent over position, lift your arms out to the sides squeezing the back of your shoulders and lower down. This is a Flye.

Alternate between the Rows and Flyes.

20 seconds of Overhead Press, side leg lift & lunge. 10 seconds of rest. Repeat this 4 times.

Overhead Press

Hold the dumbbells in both hands at shoulder height with elbows bent at about 90 degrees. Raise both arms up towards the ceiling (palms facing front) as you raise your right leg out to the side. Bring the arms down to start position as you simultaneously bring the right leg down behind you and sink into a lunge.

Do a left leg raise for the next set, then the right for the following and left for the last.

Core Exercises (2 minutes)

30 second plank hold, 30 second hip raise to plank

Plank hold

Get into a Plank position as shown. Hold for 30 seconds. Then lift your hip up like an inverted V and go back to plank making sure your back doesn't sink down into an arch.

30 second Reverse Plank hold, 30 second hip drop & lift to plank

Reverse Plank hold

Get into a reverse plank position as shown and hold for 30 seconds. Next drop your hips but lift them back up before they rest on the floor.

Stretch and relax (2 minutes)

Stretch out your upper body muscles, mid section and legs. Lay down with your eyes closed for a few seconds.

Illustrations: Uttam Ghosh/

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Brinda Sapat