How to Get a Full-Body Workout With Just a Chair
Last Updated: Apr 26, 2017
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Can’t make it to the gym? Have no fear: Your chair workout is here! With these 15 exercises, you can work out from the comfort of your own home. You don’t even have to buy an expensive set of DVDs or purchase bulky fitness equipment. So grab a chair (or bench or step or anything else similar in height and stability) and get ready for a full-body workout you can do in your living room (or get all crazy and take it outside to a park bench). Either do all of these exercises in the order they’re laid out below, or mix and match your favorites. Say goodbye to those excuses not to work out -- and get ready to sweat.
Woman sitting in waiting room
Sit on a chair with your butt and hands on the edge of the seat and your fingertips facing the front of the chair. Extend your legs in front of you with your heels on the floor. Scoot your butt off the chair so you can almost touch your butt to your fingertips. Lower your body so your butt almost touches the floor and your upper arms are parallel to the floor. Keep your body tight as you push into the chair and press your body up to the starting position. Do three sets of 10 reps.
Place your hands on a chair (make sure the chair is stable or against a wall for stability) with your feet behind you. Your body should be in a plank position. Squeeze your elbows into your sides as you lower your body down until your chest touches the chair. Keep your body in a straight line and push up into the start of your plank position. Do three sets of 10 reps.
Related: 10 Push-Up Variations for a Stronger Body
The decline push-up is a more advanced variation. Place your feet on the top of the chair with your hands on the ground. Your body should be in a straight line from head to feet. Slowly lower your chest and chin down toward the floor. Keep your body in a perfectly straight plank as you push the floor away and return to the starting position. Do three sets of six reps.
BULGARIAN SPLIT SQUATS
Begin by stepping a few feet in front of the chair. Keep your right foot on the ground and place your left foot behind you with the top of your left foot resting on the seat of the chair. Lower straight down, ensuring that your right knee stays behind your right toe. Lower down as far as possible into a lunge. Squeeze your glutes and drive up to the top. For a more advanced version, you can add weights to this. Do four sets of 12 reps.
Related: 12 Essential Squat Variations to Try
Take one small step away from the chair so that your glutes would touch the chair if you were to sit down. Place your feet shoulder-width apart with your feet facing slightly out. Send your glutes back as you squat down until your glutes touch the chair. Drive your knees out as you return to standing. Do four sets of 15 reps.
Take one small step away from the chair so that your glutes would touch the chair if you were to sit down. Stand on one leg and send your glutes back until they touch the chair (but don't sit all the way!). Engage your core and your glutes as you return to standing on one leg. Switch sides and repeat. Do three sets of six reps.
SEATED LEG RAISES
Sit down on the chair with your legs straight out in front of you and your heels on the ground. Hold onto the sides of the chair for control. Tighten your abdominals and raise both legs up to hip height, focusing on keeping your abdominals in a hollow position (don’t let your lower back round). Lower your legs with control and repeat. Do three sets of 12 reps.
SEATED ABDOMINAL ROWS
Sit on your chair and hold onto the sides for support. Raise your legs up to hip height and tuck your knees into your body. Straighten and extend your legs in front of you and bring them back into your chest with your knees bent. Repeat this exercise in a fluid motion. Do three sets of 15 reps.
Related: The 41 Hardest Ab Exercises
Place your right foot on top of the chair and squeeze your glutes as you step up onto the chair, driving your left knee into the air. Make sure to keep your left hip in line with your right hip. Lower down with control and switch sides. For a more advanced move, you can add weights. Do three sets of six reps on each leg.
LEG LIFT WITH TWIST
Sit on the chair with your back straight. Raise your left leg out in front of you so that it’s in line with your hips. Extend your arms out to the side of your body at shoulder height. Twist your body toward your left leg as far as possible and return to the starting position. Switch sides so that you twist to the right and repeat. Do three sets of six reps on each leg.
PLANK WITH KNEE CROSS
Place your forearms on the seat of the chair with your feet out behind you (you’re in a plank now). With a solid core and tight glutes, drive your left knee up toward your right armpit. Hold for two counts and lower down. Switch to the opposite side, driving your right knee toward your left armpit and lower down. Do three sets of six reps on each leg.
Related: 11 Plank Variations for Rock-Solid Abs
SIDE PLANK PULSES
Similar to a traditional plank, the side plank on the chair breaks up your abdominal routine by adding an alternative angle to the way your muscles are firing. Place your right forearm on the seat of the chair. Extend your legs out to the side and stack your left foot on top of your right foot, keeping both legs straight. Slightly dip your right hip toward the ground, and then bring it back to the start. Do three sets of 12 pulses on each side.
PUSH-UP WITH TAP
Get on the floor an arm’s length away from your chair. Place your hands underneath your shoulders with your legs straight behind you in a plank. Lower to the floor and complete a push-up. When you push back up to the top, tap your right hand onto the seat of the chair. Lower back down and complete another push-up, this time tapping your left hand on the top of the chair. Do three sets of 12 reps (each tap is one rep).
STANDING LEG RAISE
Stand next to your chair, place your hands on your hips and engage your abs as you raise your leg up and pulse it back and forth over the seat of the chair. For a more advanced version, pulse your leg over the backrest of the chair. Keep your leg as straight as possible during this move. Do three sets of eight reps on each leg.
Related: 10 Barre Moves You Can Do at Home Right Now
Face the seat of the chair with your feet hip-width apart. Place one foot on top of the seat and quickly switch feet so that the other foot is on top of the chair. Repeat this movement as quickly as possible so that you’re alternating legs and tapping your foot on top of the seat of the chair. Do three sets of eight reps on each leg.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Have you ever worked out with a chair before? Which ones on the list are your favorite chair exercises? What other ones would you add? Would you prefer a chair workout at home over going to the gym? Share your suggestions and questions in the comments section below!
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