Diana Kelly Levey

Burn Calories and Build Muscle with These Chair Exercises

A man flexes his biceps

November 21, 2019 | Categories:

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. (Psst, you can even work out from your own bed.)

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. (If you’re watching TV, try out these exercises to get your sweat on.)

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.

Try These Fast Exercises to Work Your Entire Body Using Just a Chair


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

Triceps Dips

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!

Works: 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

Toe Taps

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

Biceps curls

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.)

Works: Biceps

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.

Works: Core

Read the full article on Apartment Therapy.

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