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Yes, You Can Build Strength Sitting Down—These 8 Exercises Prove It

Runner’s World logo Runner’s World 5 days ago Danielle Zickl
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While you might not think of including furniture in your strength workouts, chairs and couches often fly under the radar as useful muscle-building tools.

Seated workouts come in handy for those who don’t have a ton of home workout equipment laying around, and are great for runners who are looking to boost their core and upper-body strength—two muscle groups that play a role in your performance.

“When you’re seated, it forces you to engage your core in a way you wouldn’t if you were standing,” Amber Rees, senior trainer at Barry’s in New York City and Brave Body Project cofounder, tells Bicycling.“Every move [you make on while running] comes directly from the core and powers through to the legs, back, and arms, and enhances overall output and performance and speed.”

That’s why Rees put together this circuit comprised of eight sitting exercises that work the muscles you use for hills, sprinting, and even those slower recovery runs.

How to do it: Perform the circuit below for a total of 3 rounds, 10 reps per exercise. Rest as needed between each exercise. Each exercise is demonstrated by Rees so you can learn proper form.

You will need one medium to heavy dumbbell and access to a chair or couch.

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Triceps Dip

Start sitting on the edge of a chair, back straight, feet planted on the ground, and hands gripping the seat’s edge. Walk feet forward a few inches so hips are in front of the chair, legs still bent at 90 degrees. Bend elbows straight back to lower hips until elbows form a 90-degree angle. Pause, then press into palms to straighten arms to return to starting position. Repeat.

Front Raise

Start sitting on the edge of a chair, back straight, feet widely planted on the ground, hands at chest level holding a dumbbell horizontally on both sides (elbows are bent at 90 degrees). Extend arms all the way down, then, still keeping arms straight, lift dumbbell up to chest height. Lower dumbbell back down. Repeat.

Concentration Curl

Starting sitting on a chair with your legs spread, knees bent at 90 degrees, and your feet flat on the floor. Place the back of your right elbow inside your right inner thigh, holding a dumbbell with an underhand grip. Extend elbow down toward feet. Curl dumbbell up until it reaches shoulder level. Hold for one count, then lower dumbbell back down in a controlled manner.

Perform the row below on right side, then repeat this concentration curl on the left side.

Seated Row

Start sitting on the edge of a chair, back straight, and feet planted on the ground. Lean forward (keeping back straight), place left hand on left knee, and hold dumbbell in right hand with a straight arm, dumbbell should be at about calf level. Then pull dumbbell up toward chest, making sure to engage your back and lats. Return to starting position.

Perform the concentration curl above on the left side then repeat this row on the left side.

Russian Twist

Start sitting on the edge of a chair, back straight, feet on the ground, hands at chest level holding a dumbbell horizontally on both sides (elbows are bent at 90 degrees). Lift feet up off ground, rocking back in the chair. Initiate the rotation from your torso to draw the weight to your right hip. Engage your lower core to keep the rest of your body stable. Contract through your abdominals while keeping chest lifted to achieve balance on your tailbone. Return to center then twist to the left. Repeat.

Toe Tap

Place a dumbbell on the ground in front of you so that it’s standing upright. Start sitting on the edge of a chair, back straight, feet together on the right side of the dumbbell, toes touching the ground. Hands should be clasped together in front of your chest. Lift both feet over dumbbell to the left, rotating your hips to the left as well. Continue to alternate.

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