9 Quick Exercises You Can Do from Literally Any Chair
Squeeze in a quick workout with the home gym equipment you already own—a chair!
It’s all too easy to squash the best intentions of working out at home once you decide to chill in your favorite chair. Instead of simply sitting, why not turn that seat into a piece of exercise equipment?
“Working out at home is convenient, excuse-free, and takes away any intimidation you may feel about going to a gym,” says Jennifer Giamo, NSCA certified trainer, owner of Trainers in Transit in New York City.
Here are some chair exercises you can do as part of a chair workout, whether you want to work specific body parts or get in a total-body toning sesh. Although yes, you can do most of them from any chair—including a lounge chair or recliner—it’s best to make sure you’re using a sturdy chair. (Best to avoid the rolling desk chair on a wood floor for these!) Preferably, you’ll use a wood or metal chair that doesn’t have armrests and can hold your weight if you stand on it.
Warm up with one minute of jumping jacks to get blood moving.
For equipment, you’ll want to break out your dumbbells—anywhere from 5 to 10 pounds will do. Or, you can tube resistance bands with handles, or two 1-liter bottles of water.
Place the back of the chair against an immovable surface, like a wall. Face the chair and place hands on front of seat, arms extended, a little more than shoulder-width apart. Walk feet back until body is in a straight line from head to feet. Inhale, lower your body down until chest comes as close to the chair as possible. Exhale and push up. Do two sets of 15 reps.
Works: Chest, shoulders and core
These are done similar to the regular push-ups but you’ll bring your hands closer together on the front of the chair. Walk your feet back to full extension. Inhale as you slowly lower your chest closer to the seat. Keep elbows glued to your ribs. Exhale and push away from the seat, keeping elbows in. (Your triceps should be burning!) Do two sets of 15 reps.
Works: Triceps and core
Sit on the chair with the chair back against something sturdy, like a wall. Place hands palms down along the front lip of the chair. Walk your feet out until thighs are parallel with the floor and knees bent at a 90-degree angle. Butt will be hovering in the air in front of the chair. Inhale, let your butt sink down, allowing the arms to bend behind you so elbows are at 90-degree angles. Exhale and push up, using your triceps, not your feet. Aim for two sets of 15 reps. If you want a more challenging workout, walk feet out until legs are fully extended. You’ll really feel that in your triceps!
Make sure the back of the chair is pushed against the wall for safety and stand in front of it, facing the chair. Lift your right leg up and step onto the middle of the chair, bringing the left foot up behind it. Once your left foot hits the seat, bring it back down followed by the right foot. Alternate, starting with the left foot first the next time. Do this as a timed cardio exercise for one minute.
Works: Butt, quads, and is cardio
Start off in the same position as the step-ups, about 10 inches in front of the front of the chair. Bring one toe up to tap the seat of the chair, set it down and switch to the other toe tapping the chair. Alternate sides. It should look like you are marching. Do this workout slowly to keep it low impact, or, speed it up for a cardio workout.
Works: As cardio
Grab your weights and sit on the chair with your arms hanging down. Tuck your elbows in and curl your arms towards you until the weights get close to your shoulders, squeezing the biceps, then releasing the weights back down. Do two sets of 15 reps. (You could also do this workout without weights using a tube resistance band with handles with the middle of the band placed under feet.)
Front and side shoulder raises
From a seated position, hold dumbbells in hands, palms facing the chair. Inhale, exhale and lift arms out in front of you to shoulder height. Pause, gently lower back down. Do 15 reps. Then, bring palms by your sides while holding the weights. Inhale. Exhale and lift arms out to your sides, raising them to shoulder height. Pause and then gently lower back down. Do 15 reps. Take a break and then repeat front raises followed by the side raises. (You can also do this with a resistance band, stepping on the middle of the band to hold it in place.)
Overhead triceps press
Grab a heavier dumbbell (or a gallon of water or 2-liter bottle of soda) and hold it with both hands behind your head. Hands should be positioned by neck height. Breathe in, then exhale and raise arms up overhead until fully extended with the weight. Inhale and lower back down. Do two sets of 15 reps.
Seated leg lift
Make sure chair is backed by a wall or sturdy surface so it won’t move. Have a seat, bringing your butt to the front edge. Place palms against the front of the chair. Lean back, engage your core and lift legs up off the ground, keeping your feet together. On an exhale, bring knees as close to your core as you can, holding abs tight and keeping your back straight. Lower down, trying to not let feet hit the floor and bring them back up right away. Do two sets of 15 reps.