Want a challenging and effective at-home workout? Grab a chair! Choose any sturdy and stable chair with a flat seat, place it against a wall for added safety, and try out these 7 moves that will really target your lower body and help you tone your legs and butt. You’ll be rocking some Daisy Dukes in no time!
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The Move: Front Step Ups
What it works: Glutes, Hamstrings, Quadriceps, Calves
How to do it: Begin by standing in front of the chair, facing the seat. Step the right foot onto the chair seat. Shift your weight over the right foot and drive through the heel of the right foot to lift the left leg onto the chair. Keep the right foot on the chair, as you lower the left leg back down. Make sure to keep the right foot on the chair the entire time, and press through the right heel to lift your body up, rather than pressing off the left foot. Complete 15 repetitions on the right side before switching to your left leg.
Safety tip: Keep your chest lifted to prevent rounding through your spine as you move.
The Move: Dips
What it works: Triceps, Shoulders
How to do it: Begin with your palms on the seat of the chair, fingers pointing forwards, abdominals contracted in a reverse plank with knees bent at 90 degrees, feet flat on the floor facing forwards, and butt lifted as in a glute bridge. Inhaling, bend your elbows to 90 degrees, lowering your body into a dip. As you exhale, press your palms into the chair, and use your triceps to lift you back to your starting position. Make sure to shift your weight gently backwards into your palms, activating your triceps.
Safety tips: Keep your shoulders drawn back and down throughout the exercise to avoid straining your neck. Keep your abdominals taught and your butt lifted throughout the exercise.
The Move: Pistol Squats
What it works: Glutes, Hamstrings, Quadriceps, Adductors & Abductors (your inner & outer thigh), Core
How to do it: Begin sitting at the edge of the chair with your right leg extended in front of you and left foot planted firmly on the ground. Drive through your left foot to come to standing while keeping your right leg extended in front of you. Maintain an extended right leg as you hinge at the hips and sit back to lower yourself into a seated position. Complete 10 repetitions before switching legs.
Safety tip: Make sure you’re hinging at the hip joint and not rounding through the spine.The Move: Push Ups
What it works: Chest, Triceps, Shoulders, Core
How to do it: Facing the chair, begin with both hands on the edge of the chair seat, legs extended, and abdominals contracted in a plank position. As you inhale, bend at the elbows to lower your chest towards the edge of the seat. Keep your body in a plank, with butt down and abdominals tight. Lower to a 90 degree angle at the elbow. Exhale to extend your elbows and press your body up. Complete ten repetitions.
Safety tips: Keep a long neck as you complete the exercise and pull your shoulders away from your ears.
The Move: Decline Push Ups
What it works: Chest, Triceps, Shoulders, Core
How to do it: This move provides an extra challenge and is a progression from push ups. Begin with your hands on the ground, slightly wider than shoulder width and your feet on the chair seat. Your body is in a decline plank position. As you inhale, bend the elbows to lower your chest toward the ground. On your exhale, extend the elbows to press back up. Complete ten repetitions.
Safety tip: Keep a strong core and solid decline plank position.
The Move: Bulgarian Split Squats
What it works: Glutes, Hamstrings, Quadriceps, Adductors, Abductors
How to do it: Begin facing away from the chair. Assume a static lunge position with your left foot planted on the floor about 2 feet in front of the chair and the ball of your right foot on the chair seat with heel lifted. The weight is in the left foot. As you inhale, hinge at the hips to sit the butt back and bend the left knee to a 90 degree angle. Exhale, pressing through the left foot to return to standing. Complete 15 repetitions before switching legs.
Safety tip: Your front foot should be a comfortable distance in front of the chair, usually just slightly further than your natural stride.
The Move: Lateral Step Up
What it works: Glutes, Hamstrings, Quadriceps, Calves, Adductors
How to do it: This is similar to a front step up but focuses on lateral movement, working the inner thighs. Begin by standing next to the chair with the chair on your right. Place the right foot on the chair seat, stepping laterally. Drive through the right heel, sitting back slightly to come to standing. Lower back down with control, keeping the right foot on the chair. Complete ten repetitions before switching sides.
Safety tips: Drive through the heel and middle of your foot when stepping up to avoid unnecessary pressure on the knee. Make sure to keep the toes in alignment with your ankle at all times.
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Jennifer Lutz is a certified personal trainer and yoga instructor. Every other week she writes “KnowMore Moves,” a column that focuses on a different piece of fitness equipment and shows you how to safely do 3 to 5 moves that will get you the results you want. She trains private clients around New York City and at Equinox Fitness. It’s her goal to help women live healthier, happier lives. Follow her on Twitter at @JLutzFitness.