Standing desks do not build muscle. While using a standing desk burns calories, it does not require enough work to noticeably increase muscles.
Instead, standing desks protect existing muscle groups and provide other musculoskeletal benefits.
Using a standing desk can improve the current condition of your muscles, especially if you are moving away from sedentary work, but you shouldn’t expect the same results as exercise.
In this article, we explain how you can use other tools to build muscles and how a standing desk improves your musculoskeletal system.
Standing Desks and Muscle Formation
While a standing desk provides greater opportunities for you to be active, especially when compared to a fixed-height seated desk, the activity is not substantial enough to build muscle.
You may notice a slight difference as you use different muscle groups than you would sit, but you will not burn enough calories or experience the right blend of:
The ability to form muscles also varies depending on the person.
Factors such as current physical condition and diet affect muscle formation, as well as additional exercises.
Supplementary Tools to Build Muscles:
Standing desks offer a unique opportunity to work out at your desk.
Something as simple as using a folding treadmill under the desk can build muscles.
You can incorporate a variety of exercises to build muscles at your standing desk, such as:
- Standing leg extensions
- Calf raises
- Gluteal squeezes
Read More >> Top Best Standing Desk Exercises
It’s important to ensure that exercising at your desk does not interfere with your work activities.
While minor tools and routines can help you build muscles, it’s better to divide and dedicate your time.
This allows you to unlock the full potential of your standing desk and your exercise routines without hindering performance in either area.
Muscle Benefits from Standing Desks:
Not that your standing desk offers no benefits for your muscles, tendons, or ligaments. Most users note:
- Decreased back pain
- Less strain on their neck and shoulders
- Reduced headaches
- Improved healing
- Decreased muscle degeneration
- A better-balanced core
- Improved flexibility
To achieve these benefits, you need to make sure you use the standing desk regularly while ensuring proper posture.
You may not notice something right away, possibly experiencing discomfort as your muscles regain their strength, but it only takes a couple of months to feel the difference.
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Decreased Back Pain:
Back pain is the most common complaint from those tasked with desk work.
As you sit at your desk, your muscles tense and relax disproportionately, throwing them out of balance.
The pain comes from the underdeveloped muscles straining when you finally go to use them and the overworked muscles knotting up.
On top of this, prolonged sedentary work can lead to compressed, slipped, or herniated discs, forcing your muscles further off balance.
Using a standing desk engages the muscles in your back as intended, decreasing the opportunity for back pain to develop.
This also limits the potential for chronic back pain to develop.
Less Strain on Neck and Shoulders:
It is difficult to position desk components in a way that relaxes your neck and shoulders when you’re sitting.
When you tilt your head to better view the screen, you throw your proper posture, forcing your neck and shoulder muscles to tense up to accommodate the weight shift.
It’s easier to keep everything in line with a standing desk. Your muscles are best equipped to hold the weight of your head when you hold it over the top of your neck.
Reducing the strain on your neck and shoulders prevents long-term issues in these areas while providing immediate relief.
Reduced Tension Headaches:
A standing desk can reduce the frequency and severity of tension headaches. This won’t rule out all headaches, but it offers relief to those who suffer from this specific type.
Sitting at a desk all day does not offer enough opportunity to relieve built-up tension.
A standing desk allows your body to release this tension by constantly adjusting your muscles and preventing any one area from taking on too much stress.
A standing desk also helps improve your body’s ability to heal, benefitting muscle recovery and injuries.
When you sit in a chair at your desk, you impede the blood flow to your lower body by putting pressure on your glutes and tailbone.
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Your heart works harder to push blood to this area, increasing your blood pressure.
By limiting the blood and oxygen your cells need to survive, you interfere with short- and long-term healing.
This occurs regardless of posture, but improper posture may worsen the effects.
Standing at your desk facilitates optimal circulation, allowing your body greater access to these materials and improving healing.
Decreased Muscle Degeneration:
Muscle degeneration occurs when you don’t activate your muscles regularly.
When you spend extended periods sitting, your body enters a rest mode, similar to how it operates when you sleep.
Muscles and organs that should be awake reduce their function, while others work harder.
Standing keeps your body stay awake as you make micro-adjustments that accommodate the conditions.
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These micro-adjustments also engage your core to a greater degree.
Sitting at your desk may lock your core muscles and make it difficult to relax.
Even slouching forces other muscles to pick up the slack, and the disproportionate engagement throws your body off balance.
Standing at your desk helps you distribute the effort across all your core muscles, keeping your body balanced.
Relaxed muscles are essential for flexibility in tendons and ligaments.
Engaging these parts of your musculoskeletal system preserve and increase flexibility, and it is important to do so regularly.
The more you lose, the more difficult it is to regain.
Sitting at your desk for extended periods misses out on the opportunity to keep these components loose and flexible.
Standing allows you to maintain and even improve flexibility.
Standing Desk Posture for Muscular Benefits
To obtain the benefits of a standing desk for your muscles, you need to stand with proper posture.
Slouching, leaning on the desk, or using the desk improperly negates any of the benefits, and the standing desk can harm your ability to build or preserve muscles.
Make sure you align your body properly when standing at the desk to engage your muscles correctly. This includes:
- Head, neck, and spine in a straight line (noting the natural curves of your spine)
- Elbows forming a 90-degree angle with wrists flat at the keyboard
- Knees straight without hyper-extending or locking
- Monitor at eye level
It is also important that you don’t stand at your desk all day.
Sitting all day strains certain muscles and leads to issues such as back or leg pain.
Read More >> Are Standing Desks Bad for Your Knees? Here's The Truth
You should alternate between sitting and standing throughout the workday and don’t expect to spend as much time standing when you start.
Ease into it so you don’t injure muscles that aren’t strong enough yet.
Do Standing Desks Replace the Need to Exercise?
Standing desks do not replace the need to exercise. Even if you aren’t concerned with building muscle, you should still dedicate time during your week to exercise.
While a standing desk will not build muscle, the benefits of using a standing desk can help pave the road for muscle growth.
By increasing blood flow, improving muscle recovery, and preventing degeneration, it is much easier to perform exercises that build muscle.