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January 07, 2022 9 min read

While it is advisable to  take time off physical activity to regroup, many athletes and gym-goers often worry about muscle atrophy, maintaining fitness, losing strength, and gaining weight. This leads them to adopt low-impact exercises to stay active.

Finding the most suitable low-impact seated exercises for you can be a struggle. If you worry about working out without getting on your feet, we have some solutions for you. We have compiled a list of the best simple seated exercises that are guaranteed to help you remain active.

Exercising While Injured

Not being able to work out thanks to an injury can be extremely frustrating. It is an especially annoying feeling for a bodybuilder whose daily routine revolves around HIIT workouts. This inactivity can lead many individuals to have a bleak mentality during recovery.

Since mental health is as important as its physical counterpart, this will result in a negative effect on the healing process. It is no surprise that exercise is one of the most prescribed  therapies for injuries and diseases.

Exercising while injured would not only hasten recovery but also make it a lot easier to go back to high-impact gym routines. Once you get back on your feet, it would not take a lot of effort to incorporate back into the jacked lifestyle. Finding the right exercises to help you remain active will not only help with muscle strength but will also encourage you to maintain a positive outlook towards your recovery. However, before getting involved with an exercise, you must be cleared by your doctor. 

10 Best Seated Exercises for When You’re Injured

The lower body is a big part of many gym workout routines. It doesn't matter if they are plyometrics or calisthenics. Taking away the lower body is taking out a sizable chunk of exercises from your bro-split. Many weight trainers often think they ought to put a pause in their workout routines because of injuries that make it difficult to engage in exercises that require a lower-body drive. This is not entirely true, as seated exercises are almost as effective as any normal exercise.

While admittedly, there will not be a lot of muscle shredding going on, chair exercises are a great way to keep fit and engage the muscles while recuperating. Depending on your injury and doctor’s orders, there are tons of seated exercise variations that can be compiled into a custom-made workout routine for you. Get your chairs and backside ready. Below are the 10 best seated exercises for toned muscles and  functional strength.

1. Seated Knee Pulls

Also known as the knee to chest, the knee pull is a splendid exercise program that engages your core and the muscles of your lower limb. A simple exercise, the seated knee pull is easy on the lower back and helps to target and engage the hamstrings and the glutes. It also helps to increase flexibility in the hips.

Here's how to do seated knee pulls:

  • Sit up on the edge of a chair. Keep your back straight, shoulders back, chest proud, and feet flat on the floor.
  • With your right foot still on the floor, grab your left knee with both hands, fingers interlaced. Pull your left leg towards your chest without slouching or rounding your shoulders. 
  • Hold this form for a second. You should feel a pull in your glutes and hamstrings. Drop your feet and return to the starting position.
  • Repeat on your right leg with an equal amount of repetition.

    2. Knee Lifts


      To do the seated knee lift, visualize doing a reverse ab crunch but in a chair as a low-impact version. This core exercise is a great physical therapy for working the quads and hamstring of the legs.

      To do the knee lifts:

      • Sit on the edge of your chair. Your back should be straight and your shoulders thrown back slightly.
      • Bend your knees at a 90-degree angle. Keep your knees together and your feet flat on the floor.
      • Grasp the chair or the arm support for leverage. Lean backward, remembering to keep your back straight. 
      • Exhale and raise your knees towards your chest. Hold this form as you feel your core tightening.
      • Inhale as you lean forward to a sitting position. Lower your toes before your heels. This is one rep.

      While the knee lift might look simple, when done in the proper form, it is a great core-strengthening exercise. To achieve the best results, keep your movements controlled. Avoid driving your legs up with momentum and instead focus on pulling them up with your core. For added impact, put your hands behind your head, pointing your elbows out. This would help to activate the upper trap muscles.

        3. Seated Russian Twists

          You do not have to be sprawled on the floor to do a Russian twist. They are just as effective when done while sitting in a chair. Seated Russian twists are great for the abdominal muscles, core, and erector spinae. It also helps that you control the difficulty of this exercise by angling of your body and choice of incorporating the use of a weighted ball. 

          To do this exercise:

          • Assume the usual seated position with your back straight and legs together. 
          • Bend your knees at a 90-degree angle and keep your feet on the floor.
          • Keep your spine straight, lean backward, and engage your core. 
          • Keep your chin tucked. If you are not using a weighted ball, simply angle your elbows slightly and interlace your fingers.
          • Lift your knees to a comfortable height. Engage your core, pull your navel in, and slowly twist to your right.
          • Hold for a second, inhale, and then twist to your left. Repeat on each side and complete a set of 30 reps.

          When done correctly, the Russian twist is effective in the management of back pain and promoting good posture.

            4. Seated Chest Press

              This seated chest press exercise is done using resistance bands. While many seasoned athletes and bodybuilders opt for dumbbells, this version is just as effective for engaging the pecs, the biceps, triceps, and traps to some extent.

              To do the seated chest press:

              • Sit high in your chair. Keep your back ramrod straight and your chest proud. 
              • Bend your knees at a 90-degree angle and keep your feet planted in the floor.
              • Loop a resistance band around the back of your chair and hold the handles or ends in each hand. While many people opt to let the bands run over their arms, more experienced weight trainers pass the resistance band beneath their armpits.
              • Keep your elbow angled close to your body and your wrists aligned with your elbow. If you are using a strip of resistance band, grip it with the ends between your thumb and index finger.
              • Keeping your spine straight and core engaged, push your arms forward, pulling the resistance band as far as your arms go. Keep your arms straight and in front of your chest.
              • Pull your elbows back in. This is one rep.

                5. Seated Bicep Curls

                  Bicep curls using lightweight dumbbells are a great workout option for people with injuries. Bicep curls target the biceps brachii, brachialis, and brachioradialis muscle groups, providing you with arm strength. It also chips in on your lats, traps, triceps, delts, and elbow flexion for overall upper body strength.

                  To do the seated bicep curls:

                  • Seat high in your chair. You can choose to lean back into the chair support for comfort, but remember to keep your spine straight.
                  • Keep your knees at a 90-degree angle and plant your feet firmly on the floor. 
                  • Hold the dumbbells using a pronated grip with your arms at your sides.
                  • Engage your core, pull back your shoulder blades, and hinge your elbows forward, raising the dumbbell to your shoulders. 
                  • Hold this for a second and unhinge your elbows until your arms are back at the starting position.

                    6. Seated Lateral Raise

                      The seated lateral raise is a simple exercise as long as you choose comfortable dumbbell weights. This exercise is a splendid way to isolate and work the muscles in the shoulders and arms.

                      To do the seated lateral raise:

                      • Sit tall on the edge of your chair with a dumbbell in each hand. Keep your back straight and chest proud. 
                      • Keep your knees parallel to the floor, shins straight, and feet together. 
                      • Begin with your arms resting at each side, dumbbells facing each other.
                      • Keeping your arms straight, raise the barbells by driving your arms sideways and away from your torso until shoulder height.
                      • Keeping your core tight and the tension in your shoulders, lower the dumbbell back to starting position.

                      The seated lateral raise depends on muscle control to target the muscle groups. To achieve significant results, avoid slacking your arms, rounding your shoulders, or driving the dumbbell with momentum. To make this exercise easier to execute, simply spread your legs for better balance.

                        7. Seated Reverse Fly


                          The seated reverse fly is a strength-training exercise that targets the rhomboids of the upper back and strengthens the shoulder muscles. While the reverse fly is a high-impact exercise, you can tune it down to create a low-impact range of motion.

                          To do this exercise:

                          • Sit on the edge of your chair with your back straight. Keep your knees at a 90-degree angle or stretched out even further.
                          • Hold a dumbbell of comfortable weight gripping it so your palms face each other on the side of your legs. 
                          • Keeping your back upright, hinge forward at the hips until you are leaning your chest over your thighs. If you can't lean that far out, stop at a comfortable angle.
                          • Engage your core and exhale as you raise the dumbbells laterally towards the ceiling. Focus on lifting with your arms while keeping your shoulders still.
                          • Pause and slowly lower the dumbbell to the starting position.

                          Keeping proper form is important. If you feel any pain simply, adjust your form until you are comfortable.

                            8. Seated Arnold Press

                              Even as a chair exercise, Schwarzenegger’s lifts are great for your guns. This exercise might be taxing, so you should take it slow. 

                              Warm up with stretches and start with light and manageable dumbbell weights. The seated Arnold press engages the pecs and the three sections of the deltoids. It is, however, an advanced option that requires muscle strength and endurance. If done properly, the Arnold press- also fondly called the Arnie press- will provide you with stronger shoulders and a more defined chest.

                              To perform this exercise:

                              • Sit tall in your chair and tuck your chin. Hold one dumbbell in each hand with an overhand grip.
                              • Hold the dumbbells as you would in the peak of a bicep curl; in a straight line a little above your shoulder, palms facing you, and elbow facing downwards.
                              • Spread out your arms laterally and as you raise the dumbbell overhead, twist your arms so your palms face forward once again.
                              • Your hands should be straight up with your biceps near your ears. 
                              • Hold this position for a second, then lower your elbows. Rotate your arms till your palm is facing your body back in the starting position.

                              Always go with a weight that puts you in control without the risk of additional injuries.

                                9. Seated Overhead Press

                                  The seated overhead press is great for working all three deltoid muscles while also pitching in chest muscle, back, and core strength. It is a popular exercise for lifters and a great recovery exercise for people suffering from injuries. As usual, it is pejorative that you don't go over-the-top with the dumbbell. Choose a weight you are extremely comfortable with.

                                  To perform the seated overhead press:

                                  • Keep your back straight and your head forward. Plant your feet firmly on the floor.
                                  • Hold the dumbbells with an overhand pronated grip. Brace yourself and engage your core. 
                                  • Exhale and lift the dumbbells to shoulder level while keeping your arms shoulder-width apart.
                                  • Your palm should face forward and your wrist neutral. Pull back your scapula and hold this form for the completion of your set. Take a deep breath.
                                  • Exhale as you lift the dumbbell overhead. Your arms should be fully extended yet angled softly to avoid locking your elbows. Keep your back straight.
                                  • Inhale and lower the dumbbells by flexing your elbow, keeping your arms out. 

                                  To make the exercise easier, press the dumbbells slightly in your peripheral vision.

                                    10. Seated Hammer Curls to Arnold Press


                                      This chair exercise is a combination of the hammer curl and Arnie press. Complete the movement in one fluid motion. 

                                      • Sitting tall on the edge of your chair, grip a barbell in each hand with your palms facing in and each other. Keep your arms by your sides and your wrists unlocked.
                                      • Curl the dumbbell to your shoulders. 
                                      • Turn your wrists so your palms face outward and then push the dumbbell upwards and overhead.
                                      • Pause and bring the weights back down to your shoulders. Turn your wrists in and bring your arms back to your sides.

                                      The Best Seated Exercise for You

                                      Each seated exercise from the knee pull to seated Arnold press offers all the benefits of a normal exercise without the need to get on your feet. They are a great and safe option to keep you fit and healthy during recovery. 

                                      To help you on your journey to wellness, check out these  exercises for knee pain.