We Designed a Surprisingly Easy 400-Rep Workday Workout

We're all looking for new ways to make it through the day. This is the best we've found.

We Designed a Surprisingly Easy 400-Rep Workday Workout
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By Tanner Garrity / April 29, 2020 8:30 am

Welcome to The Workout From Home Diaries. Throughout our national self-isolation period, we’ll be sharing single-exercise deep dives, offbeat belly-busters and general get-off-the-couch inspiration that doesn’t require a visit to your (now-shuttered) local gym.

For the last couple weeks, I’ve been trading Slack messages with InsideHook’s Creative Director Danny Agnew about a workday workout we’ve christened The 50 at 50. The correspondence hasn’t been us at our most eloquent (e.g. “50 at :50 lezzgo”) but has served its purpose as a reminder to keep a fun, reliable workday workout going. In the spirit of this column, we figured it was high time we shared the workout and its many benefits with InsideHook readers.

First, a couple housekeeping notes. All credit to Danny for inventing the workout. I was passionate about it from the outset, though, because I identified a kinship with one of my other favorite workday traditions — the daily constitutional. During a normal workday, even when things are good, it’s important to get up and move. But when you’re stuck at home in the middle of a pandemic, it’s absolutely imperative. And the WFH setting, however entrapping it may feel, is actually your greatest ally. Let us explain.

Set this gobbledygook to the side for just a few minutes. (Arnold Francisca/Unsplash)

THE 50 @ 50 WORKOUT

At the 50-minute mark of each hour, perform:

  • 25 push-ups
  • 25 air squats

That’s it. Seriously. Over the course of an eight-hour workday, that equates to 200 push-ups and 200 air squats. Do it consistently for a week and you’ve knocked out 1,000 of each exercise.

For proper form on the push-ups: start in a plank position with your arms fully extended. Lower yourself to the ground and push up, keeping your elbows close to the body. Make sure your chest and thighs touch the ground at the same time for each rep.

For proper form on the air squats: start with feet shoulder-width apart. Push your hips back and down, making sure your hips descend lower than your knees and your core is engaged. Make sure your feet stay gripped to the ground throughout the full rotation.

WHY WE DO IT

If your company is in the habit of starting Zoom meetings at the 50-minute mark every hour, we apologize, but we’ve identified that period as an ideal slice of time to after a meeting’s ended (or just before one’s begun), to step away from the laptop for a few moments and perform this workout. The 50 at 50 shouldn’t take more than a few minutes, but if you don’t have a deal-sealing email to send, it’s not the worst idea to let the workout linger. In an age of harried, injurious strength training, spending a day giving reps their slow, deliberate due is a breath of fresh air, and you will notice yourself getting better at both exercises.

If you’re coming from a different starting point, and don’t yet feel capable of completing that many reps, just introduce modifications; it’s a pretty malleable workout. You can fiddle with the intensity of the repetition (perform the push-ups from your knees, perhaps go halfway down on the squat), and the volume (if 20 at 20 works better for you, do your thing). Meanwhile, as Danny recently learned, the workout is also ripe for added exercises; he’s been tacking on a one-minute plank.

The idea, at its core, is to tinker with workday routines desperate for disruption. It’s a way to get up during the day, to keep things moving, to stay fresh and energized and (somewhat) happy. The 50 at 50 isn’t going to replace your favorite bodyweight routine, and it shouldn’t preclude you from building the home gym of your dreams. But from various scientific studies, we know that concerted movement sends blood to the brain. This impacts mood in the short-term, improving workplace productivity, and memory in the long-run, which … also improves workplace productivity. 

Finding some semblance of control in this confusing time, when the same level of work (if not more, for some) still needs to get done, will reward you with more than cut torsos and thighs. It makes us better family members, better members of our communities, better allies to ourselves. There’s a much-beloved coach in my hometown here in Northern New Jersey who sums up this idea best: “Amazingly enough, your actions will change your attitudes, your motions will change your emotions, and your movements will change your moods.”

Some other benefits I’ve noticed:

  • I’m less likely to snack all day (or snack unhealthily) when I know I’ve got another round of squats coming up in 17 minutes.
  • On days when I have a strength training session scheduled after work, I’ve actually been getting better workouts; my arms feel warmed up and raring to go.
  • I’m ready to tackle kettlebells again. My squat form had fallen apart the last couple years. Going back to bodyweight basics really does work wonders.
  • It’s one of the few positives aspects of having to work from home. Depending on your job, this regimen probably doesn’t fly at the office.
  • Your “activewear” will actually get some active use. Merino wear deserves more than a date with the couch.
  • High-rep challenges shouldn’t be squeezed into an hour. Perform this over eight hours and your body will have time to adjust. Assuming you’re fueling your body properly, you’ll see some gains.
  • It’s a great time manipulator; if the day’s going too slow, there’s always something to look forward to. If it’s racing by, try to work in focused sprints, then rely on the workout as an opportunity to bring the head and body elsewhere.
  • My posture is trash. Few of us have ergonomic desks set up at the house, and both of these exercises rely heavily on engaging the core and proper form in the low back.

Good luck out there. We’ll be repping right there with you. In the words of Danny Agnew, “50 at :50 lezzgo.”

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