9 Best Captain’s Chair Exercises for Rock-Solid Abs

Captain’s Chair Exercises: Everyone wants a six-pack, right? Maybe not, but revealing rock-hard abs is often seen as the ultimate fitness goal.

Even if you don’t want the aesthetic, a strong core is vital for the rest of your workouts, so it’s worth your time.

Bad news? There’s a reason abs are considered the holy grail. Getting them is incredibly difficult. Not only will you build your abs, you’ll also shed the belly fat that hides it.

The good news? We’re here to show you one of the best abdominal workouts! That exercise? The Captain’s Chair Exercises….

What Is the Captain’s Chair?

You’ve probably already seen it in your gym – It might look a bit like this….

9 Best Captain’s Chair Exercises (That Will Set Your Core on Fire)

It might look terrifying but if used properly it can be instrumental in forming those abs!

What Muscles Does the Captain's Chair Exercise Work?

Your Abs! Yes, it’s true! The captain’s chair does predominantly target your Rectus Abdominis or abdominal muscles. But it works a lot more than that. It also hits your abdominal hip flexors and external obliques.

They are also Isolation exercises so let you focus on building that great core!

This makes it an excellent tool for building and strengthening your core; a vital component of improving your overall fitness.

A study by the University of San Diego showed that the captain’s chair is the 2nd most effective exercise for building those great abs!

The Most Common Captain's Chair Exercise Mistakes

You may find that your exercises are not working the way you want them to. There are a few common mistakes to avoid during this activity.

  • Don’t use momentum. This is the most common mistake and defeats the purpose of the exercise. The attraction when swinging is to use your momentum to lift your legs. Avoid this and tighten your core to make sure you’re lifting with your abs and not your legs.
  • Engage the core before raising your legs. This will not only protect you from injury but will also help you get the most out of your workout.
  • Do not bend your back. When faced with the pressure of raising the legs, it may be natural to lean your back against the support. Avoid doing this to actively engage your core.
  • Don’t let your back sag. Again, another reaction would be to just hang on and let your back sag. do not do that. Make sure your back stays tense to make sure you get the best possible stretch.
  • Make sure you’re breathing. It’s tempting to hold your breath as you lift so you can focus on engaging your core. This will actually make the exercise harder. As with any exercise, your muscles need oxygen to perform, so timely regulate your breathing with your lifts.
9 Best Captain’s Chair Exercises (That Will Set Your Core on Fire)

Captain's Chair Exercises Setup (Starting Position)

Before we get to the variations on the exercise, there are a few unifying things. These steps will form the basis for all these exercises.

  • Grasp the arms firmly by resting your forearms on the pads. Rest your back on the padded support.
  • Hang your legs on the floor and tighten your abs while keeping your upper body straight.

Best Captain’s Chair Exercises for Beginner

These are the Captain’s Chair Exercises for you if you’re a beginner or you haven’t tested your core strength in a while.

1. Knee Raise

The simplest of all captain’s chair exercises, this is where you should start at the beginner level. Don’t forget to run your kernel before uninstalling it.

  • Starting position
  • Bend your knees and hold them together, creating a squatting position in the air.
  • Lift your knees up to your chest. To make sure you’re working your abs, it’s important to lift them above your hip flexors.
  • Lower them to the starting position and repeat.

2. Leg Raise

Another simple exercise that will build the core strength needed to take on variations. Remember to bend your knee slightly as you raise your legs.

  • Starting position
  • Bend your knees slightly and then slowly raise your legs. Stop when they are at a 90-degree angle. Hold this position.
  • Slowly release your legs until you return to the starting position. Be careful to tighten your abdominal muscles while walking and do not let your legs drop.

3. Leg Hold

This exercise is almost identical to the previous one, but instead of lowering the legs, you maintain them. This tightens the core and puts pressure on it, causing the muscles to work harder.

  • Starting position
  • Raise your legs to a 90-degree angle.
  • Maintain this position for the desired amount of time. If new to this exercise, we recommend starting at 30 seconds.

Intermediate Exercises

If you’ve mastered the basics and want to challenge yourself a little more, these are the exercises for you!

4. Side Knee Raise

This exercise is similar to the previous knee lift, but more aimed at the obliques!

  • Follow the steps for knee lift.
  • As you move your knees towards your chest, bend them to the right.
  • Lower your knees, then repeat for the left side.

5. Bicycle Crunches

You may be more familiar with this exercise than mats, but it’s also a great captain’s chair variation. Fast movement causes sweating while being suspended makes exercise much more challenging.

  • Starting position
  • Lift one leg up at a 90-degree angle. Leave the other leg hanging.
  • Raise your second knee to the parallel position while simultaneously lowering your original leg.
  • Repeat in a continuous motion. Make sure you maintain a steady pace and that each knee is raised to the correct level.

Best Captain’s Chair Exercises for Advanced Workouts

If you have mastered the simple exercises and want to step up a gear then these are the exercises for you!

6. Scissor Kicks

A more challenging version of the leg raise. This workout will also target some cardio elements and will make you really sweat!

  • Starting position
  • Raise your left leg at a 45-degree angle to your chest.
  • Explosively push your right leg into the same position while simultaneously lowering your left leg.
  • Repeat without stopping and maintaining speed.

7. Weighted Leg Raises

This is a step up from the leg raise we looked at earlier. If you find that you need to do a lot of reps in the leg raise, that’s progress.

  • Follow the steps for the leg raise exercise.
  • Squeeze a dumbbell between your feet as you lift your legs. Make sure you do this exercise slowly and have full control over the weight.

8. Criss – Cross

A very challenging captain’s chair variation. You are looking for your legs to cross horizontally while maintaining tension.

  • Starting position
  • Raise your legs until they are about 90 degrees with reasonable space between them.
  • Move both legs inward, allowing the right leg to cross over the left.
  • Return both legs to their original position
  • Repeat the maneuver, this time with your left leg over your right.
  • Keep repeating, maintaining a steady pace.

9. Single Leg Lifts

Another more challenging variation on 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 muscle development. Be sure to move slowly to ensure that you maintain form.

  1. Follow the steps for the leg raise exercise, but this time only raise your right leg.
  2. Slowly lower your right leg.
  3. Repeat with your left leg.
  4. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

The bottom line

You have some of the best variations on captain chair exercises.

If you’re new or haven’t tested your core recently, we recommend starting with basic exercises. As time passes and your core strength improves, you’ll move on to more challenging exercises.

Our personal favorite is Leg Hold, as it provides pleasant relief when you relax and lower your legs!

Some people do a special abs day, and if this is you, these exercises are an absolute must. Alternatively, you can place them on your other workout days to make sure you always give your core a good burn.

Either way, if you want those rocky abs for the summer, then you better get in the captain’s seat!

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