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Chair based exercises are great for clients of all ages and abilities to get them moving in a safe and effective way; particularly if you have any clients with balance issues or in this instance clients who are unable to get down to the floor. Engaging your core can be very difficult and we all know the importance of having a strong core to help protect our backs for posture and stress incontinence. For more varied chair based exercises it is best to use a chair with no arm rests on the side to allow for full rotation. Here are three chair based exercises you could implement within your classes or training sessions to help clients train their core:

Seated Single Knee Raise

Start by sitting on the front of the chair, feet hip width apart and knees at 90 degrees. Then focus on your breathing with a nice deep inhale, on the exhale draw your stomach muscles in and on the inhale relax them. At all times, if possible, you need to try and keep your stomach muscles engaged holding them in tightly whilst remembering to breathe! Sitting up nice and tall, shoulders back and down, keeping a straight back and resting your hands on the chair down beside you, we are going to exhale raising our knee – only go as far as feels comfortable. Some people may only be able to bring their foot just off the ground. Then inhale on the lowering phase down to the ground. You do not have to fully put your foot on the ground; sitting with your feet raised on tip toes will engage your stomach muscles further, therefore this is a progression for this exercises alongside raising your hands to your ear with your elbows out. Repeat on each leg, raising and lowering the knee keeping your stomach muscles engaged. If anyone is feeling this exercise in their lower back then they should stop, reset and readdress their posture to ensure they are not leaning back and have engaged their stomach muscles to perform the movement.

Seated Single Knee Raise and Twist

Only Suitable for those without back problems. This exercise is an extension on from the seated single knee raise above. Sitting on the edge of the chair, stomach muscles engaged, feet hip width apart, raise your hands up to your ears allowing your elbows to point outwards with relaxed shoulders. As you raise your knee, you are going to perform a controlled twist of the upper body aiming your elbow towards your opposite knee. Keeping your back upright do not lower your upper body, you are just performing a rotation of the upper body to engage your obliques, you are not expected to meet your elbow and knee and must return back to centre before performing the exercise on the other knee. Remember to exhale on the knee raise and inhale on the knee lowering.

Seated Abdominal Curl

Start by sitting at the front of the chair, feet hip width apart, tall with your shoulders back and down, back straight and stomach muscles engaged. Most importantly with this exercise, keep your back straight. Imagine you have a rod in it so you’re unable to bend! Sitting up tall you can either have your hands down beside you on the edge of the chair or across your chest, slowly lower yourself backwards towards the back of the chair, you should feel your stomach muscles engage further aiming to stop you before you touch the back of the chair. Once you have stopped yourself, slowly bring yourself back to an upright seated position. Remember to exhale when lowering yourself towards the back of the chair and inhaling on the way back to a upright position. If you have your hands down by the sides of you on the chair you cannot cheat by assisting yourself by pulling yourself up, you may not be able to lower yourself very far from the upright seated position initially but this strength can be built up over time. If you feel this exercise in your back, you need to reset and ensure that you are sat upright and have your stomach muscles engaged. If you lower yourself to a point that you only then feel it in your back you are going too far for the strength of your core muscles resulting in your back muscles supporting you in that position instead of your abdominals; therefore, do not lower yourself as far.

Note: If a client feels this exercise in their back constantly then encourage them to stick with single knee raise for the time being to strengthen their stomach muscles further before retrying this exercise.

There are many more chair based exercises that can be performed to work your core but here is just a few to introduce to your clients!

Let us know how you get on implementing these exercises over on our Facebook Page…

Speak soon,

Emma