30 Mar 10 Killer Bodyweight Chair Exercises To Challenge Your Home Workouts
Take your home workouts to the next level with just a chair! Similar to a bench in a traditional gym, you can use a chair in a variety of different ways to get an absolutely killer bodyweight chair workout. Whether it’s your arm, elbow, knee, or feet on the chair, your core has to be absolutely rock solid and strong in order to perform bodyweight chair exercises. Let’s just say that chairs are not just for sitting on!
While demonstrated with a bench, all the following 10 exercises can easily be performed on a chair. But before trying these bodyweight chair exercises at home – safety first!
Flip your chair over and tighten all the screws and nuts.
The last thing we want to happen is for your chair to collapse during your workout! Once everything is tightened, flip your chair back over and place your chair in the middle of an open space in your home. Place a yoga matt in front of your chair, or just ensure that you have proper flooring that is not slippery in front of you. Make sure there is enough space around your chair to move. Some of these exercises require you to lie on your back with your feet on the chair, so you at least need that much space in front of the chair to exercise! All of these exercises + tons more are included in our [P]Rehab At Home Program, which allows you to workout from the comforts of your home with minimal to no equipment!
Single Arm Scapula Push Up On Elevated Surface
This is a very advanced version of your traditional scapular push up, a foundational exercise to serratus anterior strengthening. The key with this one is to allow your scapula to sag then push the scapula away from you pushing your chest away from the floor. Avoid moving at the elbows as you perform this exercise. Make sure the motion is coming from your shoulder blade. If this is too hard, we recommend staring with two hands or even learning to protract and retract your scapula with the exercises in the article below!
Decline Push Up
Once you’ve mastered the scapular push up, try incorporating that into a normal push up! The goal is full scapular protraction at the top of the push up. To make things even harder, put both of your feet on a chair behind you for decline push ups! Not only are you pushing more of your body weight, but the shoulder angle on a decline push up will target the pecs more than the triceps.
Copenhagen Sideplank With Leg Drivers
This is a very advanced version of your classic Copenhagen side plank. To build up your strength and tolerance to this variation, check out the regressed version below! A 2019 study by Haroy et al found that just adding one variation of Copenhagen planks decreased the risk of injury by 41% in a group of semi-professional soccer players.
Incline Adductor Side Plank
Unlike a traditional side plank that primarily targets the hip abductors, this variation targets the hip adductors. You accomplish this by first getting into a normal side plank position with your top foot in front of your bottom foot and your elbow on the chair. Engage your adductors and push your top foot hard into the ground. Then take your bottom foot off the ground so just your top leg is holding your body up in the air. The adductors are oftentimes a neglected muscle group when it comes to lower extremity training because let’s be honest, it’s not as sexy and fun as training muscles like the glutes or quadriceps! If you have groin or adductor discomfort, give the article below a read!
READ: Groin Pain [P]Rehab
Single Leg Elevated Psoas Marches
Psoas marches should be a staple in any hip flexor [P]Rehab. Rarely in exercises do we actually try to target the hip flexors with strengthening exercises. Typically psoas marches are done standing to work against gravity and with a mini band around the toes to provide additional resistance. This is a more advanced variation because we must use our core and opposite side hip extensors and abductors to stabilize while using our hip flexors to lift our knee to our chest. However, because we are working across gravity in a supine position without any additional resistance, it may be a good place to start for someone who is in relatively good shape, but just experienced a hip flexor strain.
Single Leg Hip Thrust
The hip hinge is one of the fundamental movement patterns. Both hip thrusts and bridges are the same hip hinge pattern, the only difference is putting either your foot or you back on the chair! In both variations, using bodyweight is many times enough. But if you want to make each exercise even harder, try the single leg version of each. Placing your foot on top of the chair increases the knee flexion demand of the exercise, which makes it a great way to hit the hamstrings!
Single Leg Elevated Bridge
In the hip thrust, put the bottom of your shoulder blades on the chair behind you. Brace your core, and thrust your hips upward. The key is tucking your trail with a posterior pelvic tilt at the top!
READ: Master The Hip Thrust
Sidelying Extra Range Hip Abduction
Popularized by booty fanatics across the world, the sidelying hip abduction is a great exercise to target the gluteus medius and the lateral hip as a whole. For an at-home setup, you’ll want to position yourself on top of two chairs. Your elbow should be on one chair and your knee should be on the other. Raising yourself on chairs allows you to go into a greater range of motion at your hip, maximizing the hypertrophic stimulus!
Single Leg Chair Squats
It doesn’t get much simpler than single leg chair squats! Lower yourself into a sitting position on the chair behind you as slowly as you can. Once you come to a full seated position, explode off the chair using the same one leg. Once you get comfortable with the chair squat, try removing the chair and perform a true single leg squat!
Dips on a chair are a great use of body weight to target the triceps. However, there are concerns that the shoulder extension and internal rotation of the shoulder joint can push the head of the humerus forward, possibly leading to anterior instability or even subluxation. While these claims are definitely valid, the role of the rotator cuff is to stabilize the head of the humerus within the glenoid fossa of the scapula, preventing this anterior translation – even at the extreme ranges of motion. Thus, in order to properly perform this exercise, ensure that you have:
- Adequate shoulder extension and internal rotation ROM
- Strong scapular stabilizers and rotator cuff muscles
- No history of anterior shoulder instability or “shoulder dislocations”
There is a huge misconception in the fitness and rehab worlds. Far too often, we label exercises as a good exercise or bad exercise for all athletes, like dips. If interested in learning more about traditionally labeled “bad exercises”, read below!
READ: Debunking The “Bad Exercise” Myth
Did you ever think that just one chair could create so many different challenging bodyweight chair exercises? All of these bodyweight chair exercises + tons more are included in our [P]Rehab At Home Program, which allows you to workout from the comforts of your home with minimal to no equipment! Complete programming for 20-35minute workouts available on our app is just a click away!