For more than two years, millions of people in Germany have been sitting in the mobile office for hours almost every day and could urgently use a break. Or better yet, your increasingly neglected muscles thirst for a challenge. But mostly the chest, leg and back muscles eke out a miserable existence for many desk workers. The fitness level plummets. Muscle structures have shortened and are gradually breaking down. In addition, the body uses hardly any energy when sitting permanently. And because many (also out of frustration) treat themselves to one or the other treat after work, the hour has come for new love handles.
In an interview, personal coach, Ironman winner, author and fitness expert Maximilian Longrée explains which muscles suffer particularly in the home and mobile office, why even simple gadgets can help and why not everyone needs their own weight bench. The 40-year-old former professional triathlete won the 2006 amateur world title at the legendary Ironman Hawaii. He now advises and supports companies and private individuals in the areas of fitness and nutrition, among other things. (More information about Maximilian Longrée can be found here.)
Mr. Longrée, how does working in the mobile office affect the fitness level of Germans? Very much. Looking at the physical side, we're dealing primarily with muscle loss. And this is independent of the fitness level, i.e. also in people whose muscle percentage is not as pronounced as, for example, in amateur athletes who go to the gym regularly. For people who did not do any sport before the time in the mobile office, everyday movements such as going to the car or climbing stairs in the company are no longer necessary. Meeting friends, shopping and other things are also falling flat because of the lockdown. In this group, however, the muscle loss is less noticeable than in athletes who were active, built and maintained their muscles before the lockdown. With them, the musculature is certainly weaker, the basal metabolic rate drops and they put on fat because they move less and sometimes eat even more than before. In fact, I suspect many will be surprised when they face each other again after lockdown.
Which muscle groups are mainly affected? The muscles don't just atrophy. It is also becoming increasingly shorter because the stretching effect that is part of every everyday movement is often absent in the mobile office. The traditional office illnesses or complaints are increasing. The classics such as neck pain or the notorious piriformis syndrome, i.e. the pinched sciatic nerve, could be more severe or occur in people who have not had any problems with them before because they have at least exercised moderately - even if it is only the way to the canteen or that climbing stairs was. Above all, the leg muscles, our largest muscle group, atrophy due to the lack of exercise.
Now you can put up with it or, as you said, do something about the muscle breakdown. Now, not everyone has the space for a home gym. How can you still do something good for the neglected muscles? That depends heavily on the fitness level with which you went into lockdown. I would recommend simple rubber bands in different strengths to start with for anyone who has hardly done any sport so far and just wants to maintain their muscles and health. That sounds banal, but you can do many classic exercises with it. For example, do something for the shoulder blade or chest muscles to sit more upright in the office chair again. These fitness bands are sufficient for this, because it doesn't take a particularly large amount of force to maintain the muscles or even build them up a bit. As an additional exercise, I think push-ups on your knees are useful. For anyone who doesn't feel like it, I recommend going for a walk and taking the stairs instead of the elevator on the way to the apartment. This at least simulates everyday life from the time before the lockdown. Anyone who can do this should be able to maintain their fitness level well.
What about those whose muscles involuntarily suffer because they haven't seen the inside of their gym for months? I mean athletes who used to train there two or three times a week. It gets a little trickier there. These athletes are already more powerful and can therefore do exercises independently, which I would not recommend to less active people. Squats come to mind first, with or without weight. Or lateral raises with two dumbbells in each hand for the shoulder muscles. Basically, the higher the fitness level, the more difficult it is to maintain the status quo or even build muscle mass. Still, the worst thing you can do is stop doing anything for your body. I also think it's important that you free yourself a bit from being able to maintain the level from the times before the lockdown, let alone achieve top form.
What equipment do you think is appropriate for the in-house fitness studio? In addition to a weight bench, a storage rack and a small selection of dumbbells and barbells are worthwhile for ambitious athletes in my opinion. This does not take up too much space and is also suitable for rented apartments. If you don't have space for it, you can still work with your own body weight or with the aforementioned fitness bands.
In the large weight bench comparison 2021 you can find out about the current models.
This article contains so-called affiliate links. There is more information here.