The Full-Body Workout You Can Do While Sitting
It’s smart to have a few sitting exercises in your training arsenal. There will be days when a heavy workload, back-to-back calls, or just lack of motivation make it seemingly impossible to stand up, never mind get to the gym.
“Doing a few simple exercises while sitting down at home—even on the couch!—or in the office can help improve your energy, flexibility, and strength,” Raj Hathiramani, certified running coach, tells Runner’s World. “There will also be times when you can only exercise sitting down due to an injury that makes weight-bearing exercises difficult,” he says.
So, if you find yourself glued to your chair for one reason or another, there’s nothing preventing you from getting a full-body workout.
“The chair is a very accessible piece of fitness equipment and does not need to be fancy,” Hathiramani says. “By sitting forward on the front half of your chair, you can perform several exercises to stretch and strengthen your body. In this position, it’s important to maintain good posture with your shoulders back and down, spine neutral, and core engaged.”
Programmed by Hathiramani specifically for runners, the following circuit includes sitting exercises that can be scaled according to your desired level of difficulty. For an easier workout, omit the dumbbells entirely and keep a steady pace on the seated jump rope and march. If you’re looking for a challenge, keep the weights and try to increase your pace on the seated jump rope and march with each new round.
How to do it: Perform each exercise below for the number of reps listed, resting for 30 seconds between exercises. Repeat the full circuit a total of 3 times. You will need a chair and a set of dumbbells.
Seated Jump Rope
Start sitting on the edge of a chair, back straight, and feet planted on the ground. Bend arms 90 degrees, make two loose fists, and, keeping elbows tucked in toward ribs, open arms to sides. This is the starting position. Rotate the wrists forward in a circular motion (as if you’re swinging a jump rope) while gently bouncing the balls of your feet an inch or two off the floor in front of you. Perform as many reps as possible in 1 minute, switching the direction of the wrist rotation after 30 seconds.
Single-Leg Hamstring Stretch
Start sitting on the edge of a chair, back straight, feet planted on the ground, and hands behind head. Extend right leg and plant heel so toes are facing up. This is the starting position. Maintaining a flat back, hinge forward at hips until you feel a deep stretch in right hamstrings, then return to the starting position. Perform 10 reps on each leg.
Bent-Over Row to Fly
Start sitting on the edge of a chair, back straight, feet planted on the ground, holding a dumbbell in each hand. Maintaining a flat back, hinge forward at hips 45 degrees, and allow arms to hang straight down. This is the starting position. Pull dumbbells up toward chest, making sure to engage your back and lats, then extend arms straight down. Keeping elbows straight, lift arms to sides to shoulder height. Lower weights to the starting position. This is one rep. Perform 10 reps.
Wide Leg Shoulder Press
Start sitting on the edge of a chair, back straight, legs together, feet planted on the ground, holding a set of dumbbells in front of shoulders, palms facing in. Press the weights directly overhead while simultaneously opening legs wider than hip-width apart, toes pointed out. As you lower the weights to the starting position, bring the legs together. Perform 10 reps.
Start sitting on the edge of a chair, back straight, feet planted on the ground, arms bent 90 degrees. Swing right arm forward and left arm back as you lift your left knee as high as you can, then immediately repeat on the opposite side. Continuously alternating arms and legs, perform as many reps as possible in 1 minute.