15 bodyweight exercises – Complete session with a chair

Yes, you have high-tech strength training equipment at home, and you didn't even know it? Luckily I'm here.

This is one of the great advantages of sessions with bodyweight exercises. You can do a lot with a simple chair…as long as you choose it strong enough. I take advantage of a short stay in a cottage located in the beautiful village of Saint Restitut in Drome Provençale, to present to you 15 exercises that you can do anywhere.

A complete session for everyone

And above all, you can make them at home, even if you have little space, and for nothing. Thanks WHO ?

You will no longer have an excuse not to train, under the pretext that you are in police custody, that you have lost your gym card or that you no longer know where you have stored your dumbbell pack. example.

Are you ready to sweat on a chair? I advise you to do them in the order in which I present them to you. You do this 3 to 4 times a week , and you will get in shape quickly. It's not a workout for major mass gain, but it's more than enough to have a toned and muscular body.

You will find in each exercise the number of recommended sets and repetitions, the muscles used and the description of the movement. We call it bodyweight training if you want to impress your friends.

Come on, friends, let's go!


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Bodyweight exercises with a chair

Let's start right away with bodyweight training of the lower limbs and glutes. The squat is truly one of the best bodyweight exercises in all of its variations.

1. Box squats

4 sets of 15 repetitions

Main muscles worked by this exercise: Quadriceps (thighs) / Buttocks

This is a good exercise for warming up or if you haven't exercised for a long time. People who are very overweight should also practice it to limit the impact on the knees.

Move forward a little so that your back does not rest on the backrest when you sit down. Spread your legs about shoulder width apart.

You must get up as soon as your buttocks land on the chair. 

2. Staircase

3 sets of 20 (10 on each side)

Main muscles worked: Buttocks / Quadriceps (thighs) / Calves / Some lower abs

It's a bit like climbing stairs with long steps. You can switch legs each time, but I prefer to do 10 reps in a row on each side. Otherwise, I tend to mix my brushes (it's the case to say: -?).

Keep your hips aligned as you rise by contracting your butt during the effort. Control the descent rather than letting yourself fall to the ground.

If you want a little more challenge, take something quite heavy in each hand (2 bottles of water for example or your 2 big cats if they don't scratch). 

3. Bulgarian squats

4 sets of 6 to 10 on each side

Main muscles worked: Quadriceps (thighs) / Buttocks

Move forward about 80 cm from the chair and place it on top of the foot that is not working on the chair behind you. It is she who will help you find your balance.

Lower yourself onto your supporting leg as low as possible, like doing a lunge. Contract your buttocks and your quadriceps to return to the initial position.

Contrary to what I do in the photos, it would be nice if your knee did not pass in front of your toes during the descent. I should have moved my lead foot forward a bit more, but I was on gravel and it was a bit slippery…  

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4. Pistol squats

3 sets of 6 reps (for each side)

Main muscles worked: Quadriceps (thighs) / Buttocks / Abs

Finding balance isn't easy with these bodyweight exercises. That's why I prefer to do it with my TRX straps. But hey, I didn't take them to France this year...

First check that your butt will touch the chair when you sit down.

Stand on one leg and extend the other in front of you. Contract your buttocks and abs as you sit down and push yourself back up with your support alone.

If it's too hard, you can give a little push with the heel of your feet in the air when you get up. 

Now let's move on to upper body exercises.

5. Incline push-ups

3 sets of 10

Main muscles worked by this exercise: Pectorals / Triceps / Deltoids (shoulders) / Abs

Make sure the chair is stable. Place your hands on either side of the seat. Keep your body as straight as possible by contracting your abs, buttocks and thighs. Contract your back throughout the movement as if you were trying to stick your shoulder blades together.

Do not spread your elbows as you lower your body until your chest touches the chair. Push with power until you return to the initial position.

6. Push-ups with tape

3 sets of 10 to 12

Main muscles worked: Pectorals / Triceps / Deltoids (shoulders) / Abs

These are completely classic push-ups, except that you will put one hand on the chair at the end of each movement, alternating between the right and left hands. Don't laugh looking at the pictures, the flexibility of my back is deplorable 😉 I know...

You definitely need to learn how to do push-ups properly. This is one of the best home exercises for muscle mass in the pectorals.  

7. Decline push-ups

3 sets of 6

Main muscles worked: Pectorals / Triceps / Deltoids (shoulders) / Abs

This is an advanced version of push-ups, which you may not be able to do at first. There, my hands hurt a little because of the gravel. It's much better on tiles or on the floor...

Place your hands on the floor and your feet on the chair. Descend, making sure to keep your body as straight as possible. Push hard when you are at the bottom to return to the starting position, while keeping the buttocks and the abs contracted for the sheathing.

Do not attempt this move if you cannot perform it correctly.

8. Dips for triceps

3 sets of 10 to 20

Main muscles worked: Triceps / Pectorals / Trapezius (shoulders) / Back / Abs

Sit on the edge of the chair with your hands on either side (as pictured). Extend your legs in front of you and move forward a little so that your buttocks are no longer resting on the chair.

Bend the arms to come down almost to touch the buttocks on the ground without rushing. You should feel the work of the triceps, but also the upper back. Push hard to return to the starting position.  

9. Alternate leg raises

3 sets of 20 reps (10 on each side)

Main muscles worked: Lower abs

Face the chair with your feet about hip-width apart.

Lift one knee to place your foot on the chair and quickly bring it down to do the same with the other foot. Repeat this change of foot on the chair as quickly as possible.  



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10. Standing Leg Raises

3 sets of 10

Main muscles worked: Lower and deep abs

You must be facing the chair, moving away a little so as not to touch the backrest during the exercise.

Swing your right foot over the seat of the chair from right to left 10 times, then do the same with the left. Keep your leg straight during the exercise.  

11. Bust lifts

3 sets of 10 to 15

Main muscles worked: Upper abs

Lie on your back 20 cm from the chair and put your heels on it by bending your legs at a right angle, your arms stretched along your body.

Raise your chest, trying to reach as far as possible by extending your arms beyond your knees, as if trying to grab something far away. Blow at the same time. Go higher!  

12. Plank with knee lift

3 sets of 20 reps (10 on each side)

Main muscles worked: Deep and lower abs

This exercise corresponds to inclined mountain climbers. Put your forearms on the seat of the chair and your body should be as straight as possible (I know, I always tend to lower my head?).

Keeping your buttocks tight, raise your right knee toward your left shoulder. Do the same by bringing your left knee to your right shoulder. Repeat 20 times.

13. Side Plank

3 sets of 12 pulses per side

Main muscles worked: Obliques

Rest your right forearm on the seat of the chair. Straighten your body and place your feet on top of each other. If it's too difficult for balance, place one foot in front of the other.

Lower your right hip a little towards the ground, then return to the initial position. Do this 12 times, then switch sides.

14. Abs contraction

3 sets of 10

Main muscles worked: Deep and lower abs

Sit on the chair with your legs stretched out so that your heels touch the floor. Hold onto the sides of the chair with both hands.

Contract your abs to bring your legs up to hip level, keeping them straight. Try not to round your back as much as possible.

15. Leg lift and chest twist

3 sets of 10 per side

Main muscles worked: Abs and obliques

Don't make fun of me, I'm flexible as a lamp glass, and it shows.

Sit on the chair with your back straight. Raise one straight leg in front of you. Raise your arms to each side at shoulder level (make the plane).

Make 10 fairly slow rotations of the bust to the right and the left, going as far as possible on the side of the raised leg.

For further

These exercises are really excellent for a bodyweight strength training session But you will notice that the biceps and the back muscles are little used. The back works with the dips, but these muscles will need more stress during your sessions.

This is always the major drawback when training without any equipment. So how?

Do you have a table at home? Undoubtedly yes. So here's how you're going to work your biceps and your back:

What bodyweight exercises for biceps and back

You just have to go under the table to do a bodyweight exercise called rowing. Indeed, this movement works both the biceps and the back muscles.

Here is a video example:

YouTube video

It's in English, but you'll understand and the movements are well done. The first example of an exercise given by Steve Lamb essentially works the latissimus dorsi, while the 2nd exercise with the feet on the chair focuses on the biceps.

That being said, the best way to gain good bodyweight muscle mass for your biceps and back is to use a pull-up bar or Roman chair. Here are the 2 models that I recommend for their value for money:

ISE Roman Chair Multifunction Power Tower Traction Bar Station...
  • 【MULTIFUNCTIONAL】The Roman chair, also called the...
  • 【DETAILS】Sturdy and stable, don't worry about slipping....
  • 【REGULAR BENCH】Roman chair with bench is adjustable in 3...

It takes time to adapt and a real strategy to be able to do pull-ups. But it is possible and terribly effective.

Bodyweight Exercises – Conclusion

I hope this article has convinced you that you can do a great full body strength training without any equipment and for a penny. And effective too, I promise!

Of course, it won't be enough to become a bodybuilder (especially without steroids?), but I think that many of us are not looking for anything other than a good physique and good health on a daily basis.

But it only involves 2 things:

  1. A good diet
  2. Regular physical exercise

That's all, the rest is bullshit… so quickly get your chair, and get to work!


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Last updated on 2023-10-01 / Affiliate links / Some images come from Amazon Product Advertising API

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