These Chair-Based Exercises Can Transform Your Body Fast

When you can't get to the gym, a chair can be a convenient way to diversify the number of exercises you can perform.

Though chairs are mainly used for sitting, they can also be used productively and creatively to perform several fantastic exercises. When you can't get to the gym, a chair can be a convenient way to diversify the number of exercises you can perform. You can even perform chair-based exercises outdoors, such as in your own backyard or a local park, allowing you to train outside on a beautiful day.

The following full-body, chair-based workout enhances sports performance by improving balance, building size, strengthening muscles, and boosting endurance (when incorporated in a circuit routine with minimal rest, performing supersets or doing high reps).


  • Two stable folding or regular chairs
  • Timer (optional)
  • Exercise mat (optional)
  • Water bottle


  • Hydrate before, during and after workouts.
  • Train on non-consecutive days for adequate recovery.
  • Do a dynamic upper- and lower-body warm-up (e.g., Frankenstein Walks).
  • Finish with upper- and lower-body cooldown static stretches for greater flexibility and range of motion.
  • Alter the exercise sequence each workout for variety and avoid staleness.
  • Sets: 3
  • The number of reps and rest time between sets and exercises will vary. Some exercises are timed reps.
  • Choose five exercises (or combos) per workout.

The Ultimate Chair Workout

Feet-Elevated Prone and Side Planks

  • With your feet atop a chair, rest your forearms on a mat or soft surface in a prone position.
  • Keep your back flat, tighten your abdomen, and hold for 30-60 seconds.
  • Without rest, rotate to your right side (resting on your right forearm) and raise your left hand overhead holding 30-60 seconds.
  • Immediately turn to your left side (resting on your left forearm) and raise your right hand overhead holding 30-60 seconds.
  • Rest 60 seconds and repeat two more times.


  • Place your left foot atop the chair.
  • Push down and lift your right foot off the floor. Return to start position and continue for 30 seconds.
  • Without rest, do Step-Ups with your right foot atop the chair for 30 seconds.
  • Rest 60 seconds and repeat twice more.

This is an excellent lower body endurance-builder.

Feet-Elevated Push-Ups

  • Assume a Push-Up position with your feet on the chair and the hands spaced shoulder-width apart.
  • Keeping your back straight throughout, slowly lower in three seconds, pause one second, and press up in one second.
  • Rest 60 seconds between sets.
  • Sets/Reps: 3x10.

This move is an intense upper body size and strength-building exercise.

Upright Rows

  • Assume an athletic stance and grasp the top back of the chair.
  • Keep the chair close to you while pulling it up to chest level.
  • Pause one second and slowly lower to the floor in five seconds.
  • Rest 60 seconds between sets.
  • Sets/Reps: 3x10.

Single-Leg Squats

  • Hold the chair around the seat ends at chest level with your left foot airborne and the right leg slightly bent.
  • Slowly lower in three seconds, pause, and return to start position in two seconds.
  • Without rest, repeat with your right foot airborne/left leg slightly bent.
  • Rest 60 seconds between sets.
  • Sets/Reps: 3x8.

This move promotes core stability and balance, and lower- and upper-body size and strength. Your arms will burn just from holding the chair, too!

Bent-Over Rows

  • Bend forward with your legs slightly bent while holding the chair around the seat ends and your arms extended.
  • Pull the chair to your waist in two seconds, pause, and lower in three seconds.
  • Rest 45 seconds between sets.
  • Sets/Reps: 3x15-20.

Advanced version: Doing the Rows with one foot airborne is more difficult yet aids balance and core stability. The higher reps and shorter rest between sets optimizes endurance.

Parallel Bar Dips

  • Place two chairs with the backs facing each other with enough room for you to stand in between.
  • Hold the tops of the backs and lean slightly forward.
  • Press yourself up and lower slowly in five seconds. Pause one second at the bottom, and explode up in one second.
  • Rest 60 seconds between sets.
  • Sets/Reps: 3x8.

Squats and Overhead Presses Combo

  • Hold the seat ends of the chair at shoulder level.
  • Slowly lower into a parallel Squat position in three seconds.
  • Pause one second, then explosively rise and simultaneously press the chair overhead.
  • Rest 60 seconds.
  • Sets/Reps: 3x12.

Terrific upper and lower body combo strength and size-builder.

Curls Superset with Seated Dips

  • Tightly grasp your hands around the ends of the chair seat with your arms extended below your waist.
  • Slowly curl the chair up to your chest (two seconds).
  • Pause and contract your biceps for one second.
  • Slowly lower to start position in three seconds.
  • Do five more reps, then put down the chair. Without rest, assume a seated position and place your hands at the edge of the chair seat and extend your legs.
  • Press up in one second, lower in three seconds and do five more reps.
  • Rest 30-45 seconds and do two more supersets to blast your arms!

Split Squats

  • Use both chairs for this exercise.
  • Put your right rear foot atop one chair while holding the other chair at the sides of the back at chest level.
  • Slowly lower your left knee to the floor in two seconds.
  • Pause one second, then rise in one second.
  • Do seven more reps.
  • Immediately switch foot positions on the chair and do eight reps.
  • Rest 60 seconds and do two more sets.

Another upper- and lower-body size/strength builder that also advances balance and core strength.