8 Easy Chair Exercises from barre3 Founder Sadie Lincoln

This total-body strengthening workout is quick and requires zero fancy equipment.

Quick and Easy Barre Workout With a Chair
Photo: Courtesy

Despite what Instagram may have you believe, you actually don't need to invest in super expensive gym equipment — or any equipment at all — to get in a good workout at home.

But if using your bodyweight alone is getting stale, you can switch things up by using your furniture (see: these pelvic floor couch exercises), which brings us to this chair workout.

Created by barre3 co-founder and CEO Sadie Lincoln for InStyle, this quick barre-inspired workout is ideal after a long day of work when you feel like skipping a workout altogether.

In this set, you'll find moves to stretch your chest, shoulders, and wrists after being slouched over your laptop all day, as well as total body moves (you'll work your core, glutes, hamstrings, and upper body) that build functional strength in your whole body. Best of all: They can be done in front of the TV while watching The Bachelorette — or whatever your current show of choice may be.

1. Assisted Cat-Cow


A. Sit at the edge of your seat. Reach your arms back and hold the sides of the back of your chair. Pack your shoulders down away from your ears. If this is hard to do, hold lower on the back of your chair.

B. Pull away from the back of your chair. Extend your spine as you roll slightly forward on your sitz bones and lift your sternum up towards the ceiling. Take three deep breaths focusing on the inhale and opening your chest.

C. Interlace your fingers with knuckles facing away from you. Press the backs of your hands as you extend your arms forward. Draw your chin towards your chest and gently tuck your tailbone underneath you as you round through your spine. Take three deep breaths focusing on the exhale and spreading your shoulder blades apart.

Repeat 20 times.

2. Sit Strong, Stand Tall


A. Sit at the edge of your seat with your feet on the floor slightly wider than hip-distance and turned out slightly. Lean forward with a long spine and press all the weight into your feet and lift your hips up 1 inch off the chair.

B. With your weight in your heels, draw your waist in and lengthen your spine. Look slightly forward so your neck is aligned with your spine. Reach your arms as if you are picking up a heavy box from the floor. Press into your heels as you rise to standing.

C. Stand tall with arms up and balance as you lift your heels off the ground. Imagine you are setting the box on the highest shelf in your closet. Shoulders are wide and down your back and stack directly over your hips and heels.

D. Lower heels to the floor as you draw your hips back to hovering over the seat of your chair.

Repeat 20 times.

3. Hip-Opening 3-Legged Dog Flow


A. Secure the back of a chair against a wall. Step forward into a lunge with your right shin gently pushing against the chair. Your back leg should be straight with your heel lifted.

B. Lift up until your shoulders are over your hips and raise your left arm and gently lean to the right lengthening the left side of the body. Keep your hips level and your core engaged.

C. Draw both hands on either side of your right knee on the seat of the chair shoulder-distance apart. Push down on the chair and press your hips back as you thread your right leg back behind you. Extend your leg long and open your right hip so it is stacked over your left. Bend your knee drawing your heel towards your seat. Take 5 deep breaths.

D. Return back to your lunge by reversing this direction.

Repeat 15 times and then switch to the other side.

4. Mountain Climbers


A. Secure a chair against a wall. Place your hands on the seat of the chair shoulder-distance apart and press down. Make sure your shoulders are above your wrists and pressing away from your ears. Extend your legs long behind on the balls of your feet in a plank pose with your heels pressing back. Your shoulders, hips, and heels are all in a line.

B. Pressing down on your chair and keeping your shoulders and pelvis level, draw your knee in toward your chest.

C. Return to plank and then draw your other knee into the chest.

Start slow, and then pick up the tempo. Do this for one minute.

5. Unilateral Bridge Lifts


A. Lie on your back with heels pressing into the seat of your chair with knees bent at a 90-degree angle. Press heels into your chair, activate glutes, and lift one leg straight.

B. Keeping your pelvis level, press into your heel resting on the chair, activate your glute, and peel your spine off the ground no higher than your shoulder blades.

C. Lower down with control until your pelvis is lightly touching the floor.

Repeat 15 times and then switch sides.

6. Standing Seat Work


Set-up: Stand in profile behind the back of your chair. Place your forearm on the back and lean to the side. Your shoulder should be in line with your elbow. Lift your outer leg and pivot slightly so your supporting foot is pointing slightly towards the chair.

A. Extend your leg out to the side and point your toe, keeping shoulders stacked and level and your neck long. Both sides of your waist should be lengthening evenly and your hips should be stacked and level. Draw your waist in to support your low back.

B. Draw your leg forward and bend the knee at hip height in front of you, so it is at a 90-degree angle.

C. Extend the leg straight and repeat in a slow controlled motion. For an extra challenge, extend your leg forward in a kicking motion with a flexed foot.

Repeat 15 times then switch sides. Start slow and then, if you can maintain your form, pick up the pace for an energy boost.

7. Studio Push-Pulls


Set-up: Secure a chair against a wall with the back facing you. Place your hands on the back of the chair shoulder-distance apart. Come into plank by taking a step back and tilting forward with your arms extended. Walk your feet out slightly wider than your hips.

A. Pull your hips back and come into a flat back fold-over position, lengthening all four sides of your torso evenly. Your arms should be extended long with hands lightly resting on your chair. (Be sure to keep your knees softened and hips level and shoulders pressed away from your ears.)

B. Lift your heels and raise up back through plank pose into a tricep push up. Press down on your chair. Bend your elbows halfway and draw them in towards your waist. Pack your shoulders down away from your ears. Draw your waist in and lengthen your heels towards the floor.

C. Return to forward fold.

Repeat this flow 15 times.

8. Standing Fold-Over Seat Work


A. Stack your forearms on the back of your chair. Step back into a fold-over position with your forehead lightly resting on your forearms and your feet directly under your hips. Pack your shoulders back so your neck is long. Draw your waist in. Soften your knees.

B. Lift your leg straight back behind you up towards hip height, keeping your pelvis level and your spine long.

C. Bend the knee towards a 90-degree angle as you draw your heel in towards your seat. Return to an extended leg.

Repeat 15 times and then switch sides.

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