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The ‘5-5-5’ Is a Full-Body Chair Workout Complete With Cardio, Strength, and Flexibility

Tehrene Firman

Tehrene FirmanApril 1, 2020

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Photo: Getty Images/Diego Cervo

“Seated” and “workout” are rarely used in the same sentence. If you have a mini home gym loaded with equipment, that’s great—but you can get a full-body workout with just a chair, too. According to Lawrence Biscontini, a senior group fitness consultant for the American Council on Exercise, all you really need to work up a sweat is 15 minutes of your time.

The purpose of the 5-5-5 full-body chair workout is to give yourself “five minutes of strength, five minutes of cardiovascular, heart-pumping action, and five minutes of flexibility exercises.” When you’re seated, it’s a lot easier on your body than, say, multiple rounds of burpees. “You don’t have to worry about jumping on your joints, the way sometimes we see in aggressive forms of fitness or active athletic sports,” he adds. With that being said, just because it’s a chair-based workout doesn’t mean it’s easy.

Putting your body in a new position makes you work that much harder. Instead of just feeling the exercises in the prime areas you’re targeting, be it your hamstrings or your quads, you’ll feel it in other areas, too. When you lift your leg while you’re sitting, for instance, you’re working your abs as well.

You really don’t stop moving during the 15-minute workout either, so don’t expect a break. After a range of strength exercises—like single-leg squats on the side of the chair and seated knee extensions—you move onto the cardio portion that will leave you sweating. I mean, seated jumping jacks don’t sound very hard, but just wait. They’re no joke. The good news is after you’re done, you get to enjoy the sweet, sweet relief of a full-body stretch. Aka the perfect way to help your body heal from too much hunched-over sitting during the work week.

The 5-5-5 full-body chair workout

Strength

  • Seated walking with alternating arms
  • Seated kicking with alternating arms
  • Little squats
  • Standing and sitting squats slower
  • Single leg alternating squats
  • Single leg squats, side leg raises, hamstring curls
  • Chest work
  • Seated standing and sitting squats with toe raises
  • Alternating knee extensions
  • Lower trapezius back muscles strengthening

Cardio

  • Seated heel walking slow and fast
  • Seated jacks
  • Seated taps side to side

Flexibility

  • Seated slow alternating heel walking
  • Static hamstring/calf stretching
  • Active chest stretching
  • Spinal extension/back bending
  • Lower back stretch
  • Quadricep/thigh muscle stretch
  • Side stretches
  • Rotation stretch

And you can do this 8-minute ab workout from the comfort of a lounge chair:

This seated full-body tabata workout is basically the equivalent of 100 burpees. Then use the alphabet workout to strengthen your feet, ankles, and legs.

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