Exercises You Can Do Sitting Down

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Exercises You Can Do While Sitting

Sitting for a few hours at a time is sometimes completely unavoidable, whether you’re on a plane, in a car, or at a desk. That’s why I’m sharing with you this full-body routine with all the exercises you need for those moments, when you’re just stuck sitting down.

These are the exercises I do to keep myself feeling relatively good and happy as I’m stuck on a long cramped plane ride. Of course, non-sedentary or moving exercises are better for your body overall, but sometimes you’re stuck sitting and these seated exercises give you a realistic option to still introduce movement into your body.

This routine can also be done if you’re recovering from a surgery or dealing with an injury that prevents you from standing or moving around.

Don’t be shy about doing these seated exercises. I believe fitness and feeling good are more important than what strangers think about me. Being weird is good, I’m not shy about doing these (and other) exercises in an airport or office environment.

I have included variations for crowded or awkward spaces, such as on a plane, to ensure the personal space boundaries of those around you are respected.

Follow Along Seated Exercise Routine

In this video, I walk you through a series of exercises that can be done from a seated position, starting with exercises for your foot and ankle and working all the way to your head and neck for a full-body challenge.

This routine can last 20 min – 60 min, depending on how long you do each exercise and how many times through you do them.
Technique Notes – throughout this video, focus on actively pushing down through your feet to keep your core engaged.

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Seated Exercises Descriptions

If you’re looking for a detailed written description of all the seated exercises in the video – here they are!

Ankle Exercises

Exercises You Can Do While Sitting--Ankle CirclesAnkle Circles

Counter-clockwise and clockwise for 30-60 seconds on each side

  • Improves ankle strength and mobility

Exercises You Can Do While Sitting--Short Foot ExercisesShort Foot Exercise

Squeeze your toes towards your heels by lifting the arch of your foot (don’t crunch your toes up!)

  • 60 seconds on both sides
  • Great for flat feet, weak ankles, and plantar fasciitis

Exercises You Can Do While Sitting--DorsiflexionDorsiflexion

With your feet flat on the ground, drive your knees forward

  • Improves mobility for squats
  • Strengthens your tibialis anterior muscle (the muscle in front of your shin)

Exercises You Can Do While Sitting--PlantarflexionPlantarflexion

Reach your toes out in front of you and point your toes as much as possible (try to make a straight line from your shin to your toes)

  • Improves ankle strength and mobility

Alphabet

Go through the alphabet with your ankle on both sides

  • Improves ankle strength and mobility.

No picture, but you can see it on the video starting at the “5:20” mark.

Hip Flexor Exercises

Exercises You Can Do While Sitting--Seated March HoldSeated March Hold

With one foot planted, lift the other leg as high as you can without leaning back or curling your spine

  • Keep your core engaged
  • Extend your leg straight in front of you to work the quadriceps
  • Increase the resistance level by pressing into the top on your leg, forcing your hip flexors to work harder.

Glute Exercises

Glute Squeeze

Squeeze your glutes to engage them

  • Hold for a full 30-60 seconds or for 3-5 seconds at a time for a total of 60 seconds

No picture, but you can see it on the video starting at the “9:07” mark.

Exercises You Can Do While Sitting--GLute StretchGlute Stretch

  • Cross your ankle over your thigh and externally rotate your leg so your inner thigh is facing up.
  • Keep your back flat and your chest upright.
  • Lean forward into the stretch.

Spine Exercises

Seated Cat-Cow

Inhale to arch your back, exhale to round your spine

  • Improves spinal mobility

Exercises You Can Do While Sitting--Seated Cat Cow--Cat PositionExercises You Can Do While Sitting--Seated Cat-cow--Cow Position

Seated Twist Variations

Keep your hips facing forward

  • Look straight ahead if you feel awkward looking to the side or behind you
  • Incorporate your shoulders and chest by putting one hand behind your back on the back of the opposite hip and twist.
  • Hold 30- 60 seconds for each twist on each side.

Exercises You Can Do While Sitting--Seated TwistExercises You Can Do While Sitting--Seated Twist Variation 1Exercises You Can Do While Sitting--Seated Twist Variation 2

Neck Exercises

Exercises You Can Do While Sitting--Chin TuckChin Tuck

Pull your chin towards your throat

  • Press firmly through your feet and squeeze your glutes to keep your core activated and your posture solid throughout this exercise.
  • Hold for 2-5 seconds, repeat for a total of 30-60 seconds
  • Strengthens and stretches your neck

Neck Stretch- Lateral Flexion

Stretch your neck from side to side

  • Side on your hand and lean in the opposite direction for a deeper stretch
  • Turn your head to look at your opposite shoulder for an even deeper stretch
  • Relieves tension in your neck and shoulders

Exercises You Can Do While Sitting--Neck StretchExercises You Can Do While Sitting--Neck Stretch Variation

Shoulder Exercises

Lat Stretch

Reach your arm straight up and lean forward

  • -or- Reach your arm to the side for a seated side bend
  • Hold for 60 seconds on each arm

No picture, but you can see it on the video starting at the “19:37” mark.

Exercises You Can Do While Sitting--Internal Shoulder RotationInternal and External Shoulder Rotation

Lift your arm and slowly rotate it towards you so your palm is facing behind you (internal rotation)
Slowly rotate your arm away from you so your palm is facing behind you (external rotation)

  • Repeat for 30 – 60 seconds on each arm

Hand & Arm Exercises

Exercises You Can Do While Sitting--Rock Climber StretchRock-Climber Stretch

Bring your hand out in front on you with your palm facing you. Place your opposite hand on the back of your palm and push into that hand and away from your body to feel the stretch.

  • Stretches the back of your forearms
  • Hold for 30-60 seconds on both sides

Back of Forearm Stretch

Flip your arm around so your forearm is facing up. Pull your fingers towards you with your opposite hand

  • Hold for 30-60 seconds on both sides

Exercises You Can Do While Sitting--Wrist CirclesWrist Circles

Simply make circles with your wrists

  • 30-60 seconds in each direction for both hands

Elbow Circles

Make circles with your elbows

  • 30-60 seconds in each direction for both arms

No picture, but you can see it on the video starting at the “25:06” mark.

Exercises You Can Do While Sitting--Spread Fingers StretchSpread Fingers Stretch

Spread fingers as far away from one another as possible

  • Hold for 2-3 minutes, maintaining focus and challenging your fingers to spread further apart the entire time

Exercises You Can Do While Sitting--Thumb MFRThumb MFR (myofascial release)

With the thumb and index finger of one hand, pinch the webbing between your thumb and index finger on the opposite hand

  • Hold for 2-3 minutes each hand
  • Releases tension in the fingers and can relieve headache pain

Additional Resources

About the author, Dean Pohlman, Founder & CEO of Man Flow Yoga, Author of Yoga Fitness for Men, Expert on Yoga Fitness for Men.

Dean Pohlman is an E-RYT 200 certified yoga instructor and the founder of Man Flow Yoga. Dean is widely considered to be an authority on Yoga for Men. He has worked with physical therapists to create yoga programs for back health and spinal recovery. His workouts and programs have been used by professional and collegiate athletes, athletic trainers, and personal trainers; and have been recommended by physical therapists, doctors, chiropractors, and other medical professionals.

Dean is a successfully published author through DK Publishing (Yoga Fitness for Men), selling 35,000 copies worldwide in English, French, and German; in addition to being a co-producer of the Body by Yoga DVD Series, which has sold over 40,000 copies on Amazon since its release in 2016.

Man Flow Yoga has been featured in Muscle & Fitness Magazine, Mens’ Health, The Chicago Sun, New York Magazine, and many more major news media outlets.

Dean And Dog

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Exercises You Can Do While Sitting

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