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Chair Exercises to Strengthen Legs

by
author image Lori Newell
I hold a Master's degree in exercise physiology/health promotion. I am a certified fitness specialist through the American College of Spots Medicine and an IYT certified yoga teacher. I have over 25 years experience teaching classes to both general public and those with chronic illness. The above allows me to write directly to the reader based on personal experiences.
Chair Exercises to Strengthen Legs
Woman sitting in lotus position in office chair. Photo Credit Jon Feingersh/Blend Images/Getty Images

If you have difficulty standing or getting on the floor to do traditional leg strengthening exercises, there are some exercise you can do in a chair. These exercises can help to tone the major muscles of the legs and are great for those recovering from an injury or the elderly. You can do them with or without weights or dynaband tubing. However, to truly strengthen the muscles, you need to use some kind of resistance. If you are just starting out you can focus on contracting the muscles as you move your legs and then slowly add weights or tubing when you are ready.

Use Good Form

With all of the following exercises, try to sit up straight and away from the back of the chair. This will help to improve your posture and strengthen your core muscles as well. If your back is sensitive, slide all the way back in the chair so your back remains straight. Avoid slouching in the chair. Do 8 to 12 repetitions of each exercise for one to three sets. When 12 repetitions becomes easy, increase the weight by 1 to 2 pounds or use tighter tubing. If you can, do all repetitions on one leg to fully fatigue the muscle. If that is too much, then you can alternate legs.

Quadriceps Extension

This exercise works the top front of your thigh. Sit up straight in the chair with the knees bent and both feet flat on the floor. Place weights on your ankles or wrap the dynaband around both ankles. Tighten your abdominal muscles. Extend the right leg until the knee is straight but not locked. Then, lower the right foot slowly down. Do at least one set for each leg.

Outer Thigh Exercise

This exercise works the top outside of the thigh. Sit up straight and tighten the abdominal muscles. You can wear ankle weights or wrap the dynaband around both knees. Keep the left knee bent and the left foot flat on the floor. Extend you right leg straight but do not lock the knee. Bring your right leg out to the side and then back to center. Keep the leg at hip height the entire time. This is a sideways movement. Avoid swinging the hips or leg. Do at least one set for each leg.

Inner Thigh Lift

This exercise works the top inner part of your thigh. Sit up straight and tighten the abdominal muscles. You can wear ankle weights or wrap the dynaband around both ankles. Keep the left knee bent and the left foot flat on the floor. Let your right knee fall out to the side so you are turning your right leg out. Lift the right heel straight up as high as you can without rounding through the back. Keep the knee out to the side and the inside of your foot lifting straight up. Lower slowly down. Do at least one set for each leg.

Hamstring Curl

This exercise works the top back of your thigh. Sit up straight in the chair with the knees bent and both feet flat on the floor. Place weights on your ankles or wrap the dynaband around both ankles. Tighten your abdominal muscles. Keeping the left foot still, pull the right heel underneath the chair. Then bring it back so the knee comes to a 90-degree angle and lightly place your right heel on the floor. Do at least one set for each leg.

Calf Raise

This exercise works the calf muscles which are located in the back bottom of the leg. Sit up straight in the chair with the knees bent and both feet flat on the floor. Place weights on your ankles. You can also rest weights or your thighs instead of using ankle weights. Tighten your abdominal muscles. Keep the toes on the floor and lift both heels up as high as you can. Then, lower slowly down. Do at least one set of 12. You can vary this exercise by doing a set with the toes pointing forward, one set with the feet turned out and a third set with the feet turned in.

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