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October 09, 2021 9 min read

If you want to get rock-hard six pack abs for those summer days at the beach, you will need to put in a lot of effort.

Even apart from having a good-looking body, a strong core is really important for the rest of your workouts, so it is worth developing your abdominal muscles as much as you can. In this article, we’ll take a look at the Captain’s Chair, one of the best abdominal workouts there is.

Warming Up Before Starting

As always, it is vital to avoid any type of risk of injury while you are exercising, so be sure to do a proper warm-up before you start doing this exercise so that you can come out with the maximum possible benefits.

Warming up properly and following a regular diet plan are some vital factors that many weightlifters often tend to overlook when they are designing their training routines.

Although abdominal exercises might seem quite painful when you first attempt them, putting your body into positions like this can lead to many benefits when it comes to improving the health of your core and your spine, improving your body strength, and increasing your overall range of motion. 

Abdominal exercises are some of the best ones for training the strength and stability of your core.

They can also be quite useful when it comes to mobilizing your thoracic spine and your hips. Also, all of these exercises will help you really feel the burn and ensure that you have an effective workout.

What Is the Captain’s Chair? 

If you have been going to a local gym for any length of time, you have probably seen people using the captain’s chair.

young man doing leg raises

It might look a little intimidating at first but if you use this machine correctly, it can really help you on the road to building up those strong and sexy abs that you are looking for.

What Muscles are the Captain’s Chair Machine for? 

Generally, this machine is excellent for building your abs. Exercises that involve the captain’s chair are predominantly good for targeting your rectus abdominis, or abdominal muscles. But the machine can also be good for so much more than just a basic ab workout. 

It is also perfect for your abdominal hip flexors and external obliques. There are also plenty of isolation exercises that allow you to focus on building that strong core. The captain’s chair is a fine tool for building and strengthening your core, which is an important way to raise your general fitness. 

A landmark  study by the University of San Diego showed that the captain’s chair was the second most effective way to build the kind of abs that so many of us dream about. The study compared 13 of the most common abdominal exercises, some involving equipment, and ranked them from most to least effective. 

Each of the 13 exercises in the study were ranked for muscle stimulation in the rectus abdominus and the obliques. Overall, the top three abdominal exercises were the bicycle maneuver, the captain’s chair, and doing crunches on an exercise ball. These findings were all confirmed by the American Council on Exercise.

Common Captain’s Chair Exercise Mistakes 

Now that you know more about this machine, you’ll need to perfect your form as you get started with some exercises. There are a few common mistakes that you can avoid while doing your exercises. Firstly, don’t use any of your body momentum to raise your legs.

This is the most common mistake and it really defeats the point of doing the exercise.

Always avoid this and tighten your core to make sure that you are doing the exercise with your abs and not with your legs. Also, be sure to fully engage your core before you even lift your legs. This will go a long way toward protecting you from a wide range of possible injuries while still helping you get some real benefits out of the exercise.

Another way to prevent injuries is to never arch your back or let your back sag. When faced with the pressure of raising your legs, it can be natural to arch your back against the backrest. Avoid doing this so that you are actively engaging your core. Make sure your lower back remains as tight as possible to guarantee that you are doing the best type of stretch that you can for optimal back support. 

Finally, make sure you are breathing properly. A lot of people tend to hold their breath as they lift so that they can focus on engaging their core. This can actually make the exercise harder than it should be. As with any exercise, your muscles need a lot of oxygen to perform, so always regulate your breathing in time with your lifts.

Beginner Captain’s Chair Exercises

Before considering any of the variations that you can do with this piece of gym equipment, there are a few basic principles to be aware of. For all these exercises, follow these basic principles to make sure that you are making the right kinds of movements.

Grip the handles firmly and your forearms on the pads. Rest your back against the backrest. Let your legs hang to the floor and tighten your core while you keep your upper body as straight as possible. These are some of the best exercises for you to get started with if you are a beginner or if you have not been working on your core strength regularly. 

    1. Bent Knee Leg Raise 

      Also known as hanging knee raises, these are the simplest of all the captain’s chair exercises, so it is where you should start if you are a beginner. Remember to engage your core before you lift. Bend your knees and hold them together, forming a squat position in midair. Raise your knees to your chest. It is important to raise them above your hip flexors, to make sure that you work out the abs. Lower them to the starting position and repeat.

        2. Captain's Chair Leg Raises 

          This is another simple exercise that will build the core strength you will need to do the more advanced exercises. Remember to keep a slight bend in the knee as you raise your legs. Slightly bend your knees and then slowly raise your legs. Stop when they are at a 90-degree angle. Hold this position. Slowly release your legs until they return to the starting position. Be careful to tighten your abs as you go and don’t let your legs drop. 

            3. Captain's Chair Leg Hold

              This exercise is almost identical to the leg raise, but instead of lowering the legs, you maintain them. This tightens the core and puts the pressure on it, causing the muscles to work harder. Raise your legs to a 90-degree angle. Maintain this position for the desired amount of time. If you are new to this exercise, we recommend that you just start with about 30 seconds of a hold and then take it from there. 

              Intermediate Captain's Chair Exercises 

              After you have spent a few weeks or more mastering the basics of hanging leg raises, you might want to challenge yourself a little bit more when you find yourself on the captain’s chair. Here are a few more advanced exercises for you to try. 

                1. Alternating Side Leg Raise 

                  This exercise is quite similar to the bent knee raise in the beginner’s section but it actually targets the obliques a lot more. Follow all of the steps for the bent knee raise. As you move your knees up to your chest, angle them towards the right side. Lower your knees, and then repeat the movement for the left side.

                    2. Bicycle Crunches 

                      You might already be used to doing this exercise on floor mats but it can also be done as a captain’s chair variation. Raise one leg up so that it is at a 90-degree angle. Leave the other leg hanging. Raise the second knee to the parallel position while you drop your original leg at the same time. In a continuous motion, repeat. Make sure to maintain a steady pace and to ensure that each knee is raised to the correct level. The rapid movement of this exercise might even work up a sweat while you are suspended. 

                      Advanced Captain Chair Exercises 

                      When you have worked on all of these exercises as much as you like, you will be ready to show off a little by incorporating some fancy moves into your workout. Here are a few more exercises that will make you look like a real pro.

                        1. Scissor Kicks Abs 

                          This is a more challenging version of the leg raises that you were doing earlier. Raise your left leg so that it is at a 45-degree angle to your chest. Explosively push your right leg to the same position, while you drop the left leg at the same time. Without stopping and whilst maintaining the pace, repeat. This exercise will really give you a strenuous cardio workout.

                            2. Weighted Leg Raises Abs 

                              If you find that you have to do a high number of reps on the leg raise, then this is the ideal progression for you. Follow the steps for the leg raise exercise. Clasp a dumbbell between your feet as you raise your legs. Do this exercise slowly so that you have total control over the weight.

                                3. Criss Cross Abs 

                                  This is a very challenging captain’s chair variation. You want your legs to cross horizontally while you maintain tension. Raise your legs until they are about 90 degrees, with a reasonable gap between them. Move both legs inwards and allow the right leg to pass over the left. Return both legs to their original positions. Repeat the maneuver, this time with your left leg going above your right. Keep repeating this at a steady pace. 

                                    4. Single Leg Lifts 

                                      This is another more challenging variation of the leg raise. As the name suggests, here you are raising one leg at a time. This allows you better control over the lift and really targets the muscles as much as when you do a hip raise. Be sure to move slowly to ensure that you maintain the correct form. Follow the steps for the leg raise exercise, but only raise your right leg. Slowly lower your right leg. Repeat with your left leg. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

                                      Core Strength Training  

                                      Ab exercises, whether they are done on a captain’s chair or if you prefer to focus on cable crunches, can really help you manage and sometimes prevent health problems.

                                      young bodybuilder training in the gym: Abdominals - Cable Crunch, finish position

                                      Doing these types of  exercises regularly can help you feel younger, make your day to day tasks more manageable, reduce back pain, and lead to improved overall health.

                                      Your core has sometimes been considered the basis for all of your weightlifting strength. If you are going to be doing a lot of reps on a captain’s chair, your lower body and your core muscles are sure to get a lot stronger as you are doing your toning. Your abdominals, lower abs, obliques, and deep core muscles like the transverse abdominis are very important ones when it comes to so many of these core exercises.

                                      With sit-ups as well as with a lot of these exercises, you will find the tension in your deep inner-core muscles becoming very intense. Although there are a few weightlifters who train their abs mostly with crunches, the main jobs for your core should always be focused on antiextension and antiflexion. These are some of the key concepts that you should be aware of when getting started with the captain’s chair exercises.

                                      Start Exercising!

                                      There you have some of the best variations of the captain’s chair exercises. Start with the basic exercises and you will quickly progress to more challenging exercises as your core strength builds. Some people do a dedicated abs day and these exercises can be an excellent addition to that day’s workout routine. You can also slot these exercises into your other workout days if you want to give your core a good burn more regularly.

                                      Doing the exercises carefully and methodically can really lead to some striking results. Combining the workouts with some proper rest and recovery periods can also be important to your bodybuilding regimen.

                                      A good supplement for you to include with this type of exercise is our  Hyperbolic Stack

                                      If you are worried about your body weight and you are trying to burn a bit of fat at the same time, you might prefer to try the  Shredded Stack.

                                      If you are lucky enough to have a personal trainer, he or she will be able to help you get started with a strong workout regimen.

                                      Using supplements like those listed above can really expose your abs when you combine it with the correct weightlifting techniques and a nutritious diet. Not only do you have to build up all of your abs with these types of exercises, you also have to lose all of the belly fat that might be hiding those six pack abs.