Whether you’re a beginner looking for a low-impact way to challenge your core, or you have mobility issues that make it difficult to get off on one of the best yoga mats, seated ab exercises are a brilliant way to fire up your core. One of the most popular seated ab exercises to add to your routine are seated, or chair, crunches, along with variations thereof, to challenge your core muscles. But how do you do chair sit ups, what are the benefits, and what muscle targets? Read on to find out more.
As a reminder, if you’re new to exercise or returning to exercise after an injury, sabbatical, or pregnancy, it’s best to talk to your doctor, or personal trainer, before adding anything. new to your routine. Strong abs do more than serve an aesthetic purpose — a strong core can help you sit with better posture, and protect your spine from injury. If building visible abs is your goal, check out some of the best abs exercises to try here, as well as our guide to calculating your body fat percentage, and why it’s important.
How to do chair sit ups
Sounds obvious, but to do chair crunches, you need a sturdy chair. By this we mean a chair with a back, which is impossible to overturn if you lean on it. Don’t try it on a wheeled office chair.
- Begin by sliding yourself forward in the chair, so that you are on the edge of the chair with your feet flat on the floor.
- Cross your arms in front of your chest, or extend your arms straight away from your body, and sit up straight in a chair and contract your abs. We mean, think about sucking your belly button into your spine.
- Slowly, and with control, lean back into the back of the chair, and stop when you lean back as far as possible. You should feel your stomach muscles working hard to hold you here, and maybe even feel a slight jolt.
- Moving from your abs, lift your body back to the starting position.
- That’s one rep.
It is important not to overstretch during this exercise. You shouldn’t lean so far that your lower back arches – instead, your lower back should be straight throughout the exercise. If your lower back is rounded, reduce your range of motion. As soon as your back arches, your abdominal muscles stop working as hard, and you risk injury.
Still confused? This is a YouTube video demonstrating chair sit-ups.
Sit-up chairs: What are the benefits?
Like sit-ups you might do on the floor, these chair crunches target most of the muscles in your midsection, including the deep core, transverse abdominis, six-pack muscles, known as the rectus abdominis, and obliques, which stretch along the side of your trunk. These muscles help support your lower back and hold your body upright, so it’s important to train them. Working from a seated position helps you isolate your abdominal muscles, helping to strengthen and support the spine.
Chair sit-ups: A form of error to watch out for
As mentioned above, you want to be careful not to arch your back during this exercise, as this can stress your spine. Move slowly and with control — you don’t want to rush this exercise and you shouldn’t jerk your body back and forth.
It’s also important to relax your head, neck and shoulders during this exercise. Remember, movement should come from the abdomen, not the upper body.
Chair sit-ups: Variations to try
Once you’ve mastered the sit-up chair, why not try other seated variations?
The bike sat rattling
Starting at the edge of your chair, with your feet flat on the floor, place your hands behind your head, resting on your temples. Twist from your core, and lower your left elbow toward your right knee. At the same time, lift your right foot off the floor to touch your elbow (don’t worry if it doesn’t actually meet). Return to the resting position, then repeat, this time with your right elbow and left knee.
Make sure the movement comes from the core of your body, and that you’re not pulling on your neck to move your body.
The V-up is a more challenging variation. Starting at the edge of your seat, engage your core and lift both feet up and off the floor, maintaining a slight bend in your knees. From here, use your abdominal muscles to lower yourself back a few inches, so that your torso and knees form a V shape. Bend your knees and bring your legs to your chest as you move from the core to lift back to starting position, then lower back to V- sit down again. Remember to move slowly and with control.
Sitting side crunched
This exercise helps work the oblique muscles, which run down the sides of your body. Again, starting at the edge of your chair with your feet flat on the floor, sit up straight, contract your abs, and reach your arms behind your head, elbows out to your sides. Moving from your core, lower your right elbow down towards the right side of your body, pausing as you reach as far as you can. You should feel a stretch along the left side of your body. Pause here, then engage from your core, and reverse the movement to return to the starting position. Do all of your reps before switching sides.
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