Abdominal Exercises in a Chair

Casual portrait of woman sitting on a chair

Abdominal exercises in a chair involve hip flexion, trunk rotation and lateral trunk flexion. Hip flexion takes place when you move your thighs toward your body, trunk rotation takes place when you twist at the waist and lateral flexion takes place when you bend sideways. These movements work the upper and lower rectus abdominis and obliques that are found on the sides.

Captain's Chair

The captains chair exercise places emphasis on the lower abs and you need a wide, sturdy chair to do these. While sitting on the edge of the chair, grasp the edges and lift your feet off the floor slightly. Keeping your back straight, lift your legs straight up and move your knees toward your chest. Squeeze your abs forcefully, slowly lower your legs and repeat.

Ab Squeeze

An ab isometric ab squeeze works the upper portion of the rectus abdominis. While sitting up straight in the chair with your feet planted on the ground, rest your hands on your thighs and squeeze your abs as hard as possible. After holding for 10 to 20 seconds, slowly release. For a variation, alternate back and forth from squeezing your abs forcefully and resting. Hold each position for a second.

Leg Pull-Ins

Leg pull-ins are similar to the captain's chair exercise, but there is more movement. While sitting on the edge of the chair, extend your legs out in front of you, grasp the edges of the chair behind your body and lean back slightly. In a steady motion, lean forward as you tuck your knees into your chest. Squeeze your abs forcefully, lower yourself back to the starting position and repeat.

Overhead Throws

Overhead throws require a medicine ball and training partner. These work your abs, shoulders and upper back simultaneously. While sitting up straight in the chair, hold the ball above your head with your elbows slightly bent. Forcefully throw the ball in a downward motion to your training partner. As you do this, bend forward at the hips and follow through with your arms so they end up behind your body. Rise back up, catch the ball back and repeat.

Oblique Crunch

Oblique crunches are similar to bicycle crunches, which are performed on the floor. They work the obliques as well as the upper and lower abs. While sitting up straight in the chair with your feet flat on the floor and knees bent, place your hands on the sides of your head. Steadily lift your left knee in the air as you twist your torso and move your right elbow toward your knee. Try to touch your knee to your elbow and slowly move back to the starting position. Repeat with your other side and continue to alternate back and forth.

Side Bends

Side bends primarily work the obliques. While sitting upright with your feet on the floor, extend your left arm straight above your head and bend laterally to your right. Let your right arm hang at your side when you do this. Slowly rise back up, repeat for a set of reps and switch sides. To increase the resistance, hold a dumbbell or gallon jug of water in your hand.


The plank is an ab exercise that also works your lower back. After placing your hands on the floor in front of the chair, place your feet together on the seat of the chair. Fully extend your arms, lift your butt to form a straight line from your shoulders to heels and hold until you feel fatigued. For a variation, place your forearms on the floor.