As a physician, I understand that having a strong core is essential for overall health. Unfortunately, many of the modern work-from-home and remote lifestyle arrangements are leaving us with less opportunity to get up off the couch and exercise our bodies. So the question naturally arises: Is it even possible to strengthen your core while seated? The answer may surprise you—yes! It is indeed possible to reap some significant benefits from engaging in healthy core strengthening exercises right from the comfort of your own chair. In this blog post I’ll be exploring why a strong core is important as well as giving you several simple but highly effective exercises you can do without ever getting up from your seat.
As a general rule, you can strengthen your core while sitting by using an ergonomic natural latex seat cushion designed to engage core muscles while seated. Our clinical findings have shown that using such cushions may lead to improved posture, increased comfort, and supports core strength.
If you are looking for a great way to engage your core while seated, you’ve landed on the right page! With over 30 years of experience in chiropractic practice and training in ergonomics, I’ve written a book on posture, appeared on national television, a YouTube channel on this subject, and created several solutions to improve sitting comfort and posture. Additionally, I have successfully crowdfunded a project for ergonomic seat cushions.
How Can I Tighten My Stomach While Sitting?
The easiest way is to simply tense your abdominal muscles for 10-15 seconds, then relax. You can do this in bursts throughout your day. If you’re at work, just remember to smile and nod when your boss walks by so they won’t suspect you’re secretly working on your six-pack!
If you’re struggling with back pain, I wrote an article on how to manage your pain and why you should do these important steps and I encourage you to read it!
Here’s My Best Tip on How to Engage Your Core While Seated
Developing a Core Engaging Chair: Advice and Recommendations
To optimize your seating experience, consider multiple factors, with chair customization being vital. Several techniques can be employed, including adding an ergonomic cushion and lumbar support. These enhancements reduce strain on your back and legs, promoting better posture and comfort during prolonged sitting. Additionally, ensure your feet rest flat on the floor and maintain sufficient distance between your chair and desk. By adhering to these guidelines, a standard rigid chair can be transformed into a comfortable, ergonomic sanctuary that supports long-term health and well-being.
Using an ergonomic seat wedge (above) helps align the spine and improve balance. This well-crafted natural latex cushion assists in fortifying core muscles while relieving tension in areas like the shoulders and neck. Furthermore, maintaining an upright position is easier on your hips and knees, as it activates more muscles concurrently compared to reclining against a soft surface. This upright posture helps avoid stress-causing habits that individuals may unconsciously develop while working.
I explain the concept of my ergonomic design on a TV show HERE
Can You Strengthen Your Core by Holding in Your Stomach?
Yes, you can! Holding in your stomach isn’t just about looking thinner in photos. It engages your deep abdominal muscles. This engagement can help improve your spinal alignment, placing your hips above your knees, and promoting a balanced, strong core. It’s like stealth exercise – your secret weapon against back pain!
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Axial Ergonomic Seat Cushion® | Seat Chair Wedge
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Axial Ergonomic Seat Cushion® | Seat Chair Wedge
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How Do You Strengthen Your Core if You Can’t Do Sit UPS?
I understand not everyone is fond of sit-ups (myself included!). Luckily, seated toe-taps can provide a great alternative. While sitting, lift one foot off the ground and tap your toes. Switch feet. You’ll feel this in your core muscles, and they will thank you for the attention.
Can You Build Abs While Seated?
Yes, you can! With the right exercises, you can build your abs while sitting. My favourite? Seated rotations! They target the deep muscles of your core, and your obliques. Just remember to keep your spine aligned.
I’ve written a complete hands-on review about the best sitting position for sciatica, and here is what I tested best with my sciatica patients.
Seated Core Exercises for Seniors
If you’re a senior (or just not feeling the toe-taps today), let me suggest an exercise that can work wonders: the seated march. It’s gentle but efficient, perfect for seniors or anyone needing a low-impact workout.
Stomach Exercise While Sitting at Work
One fun and unobtrusive exercise to try is the seated leg raise. While sitting, straighten one leg and hold for a moment before lowering it. Then switch legs. You’re not only strengthening your abs but also sneaking in a mini workout during those long conference calls.
I was surprised at how cheap the similar seat cushions were on Aliexpress from the listing on Amazon!
How to Engage Core While Sitting
We’ve all been there – that ache in the back after a long day at the desk, the uncomfortable pressure in our hips. It can feel like our bodies are conspiring against us. Trust me, as a chiropractor, I’ve heard the sighs and groans; I’ve seen the frustrated frowns. I understand how you feel. But you know what? Your body isn’t the enemy here, it’s just trying to send you a message.
In my years of clinical experience, I’ve found that the secret to sitting without causing back pain lies in one central mechanism – maintaining a good spinal alignment with your hips positioned comfortably above your knees and ensuring a balanced and strong core. Sounds simple, right? But don’t worry, it’s not as daunting as it may seem.
Let’s begin by reimagining our desk or car seat as a temporary yoga mat. Remember, your core isn’t just your abs – it’s a complex series of muscles, including your lower back, hips, pelvis, and buttocks. Engaging these muscles while sitting will help you maintain that perfect alignment, keeping your spine happy and your back pain-free.
Start by aligning your hips right above your knees, not leaning too forward or backward. This simple posture can do wonders! It’s like providing a firm, level base for a skyscraper – it ensures everything else falls into place with ease.
Next, think about your core as the steel infrastructure of that skyscraper. Engaging your core is akin to switching on this internal infrastructure. This doesn’t mean you should be clenching your muscles constantly – just maintaining enough firmness to keep you upright and protect your spine.
Best Seated Deep Abdominal Core and Back Exercises
Deep abdominal core exercises, my dear reader, are your hidden superheroes. Now, you may be thinking, “How on Earth am I supposed to work out my core while sitting?” Well, that’s where my expertise, authority, and trust come in. Picture this: your hips neatly stacked above your knees, creating an imaginary line that runs all the way up to your core, further supporting your spine, which, in its natural alignment, bears the weight of your body effortlessly. Quite a nice image, isn’t it?
So, let’s jump into the fun part: best seated deep abdominal core exercises. One of my all-time favorites is the seated leg lift. Simply sit tall, ensuring that your hips are above your knees and your spine is in alignment. Engage your core, exhale, and lift one leg off the floor. Lower it down slowly, resisting gravity, and repeat with the other leg. What’s entertaining about this exercise is the surprised expressions you might elicit from co-workers. But hey, you’re on your way to a balanced and strong core, so let them stare!
Another terrific core exercise is the seated Russian twist. Just remember to keep your spine in alignment and your hips above your knees throughout this exercise. It’s not just an amusing name; you’ll probably be laughing at how deceptively difficult this exercise can be while you’re strengthening your core.
It’s all about making sure your core is as solid and dependable as your favorite sitcom, and the best part? You can do these exercises right at your desk. Just remember, a strong core is your best defense against back pain, and I trust you’ll make these exercises a part of your daily routine. Because as your friendly neighborhood chiropractor, there’s nothing I love more than helping you keep your spine happy and your core strong!
5 Chair Workout Exercises for Abdominal Muscles
Yikes, the sedentary life – it can be a real pain in the back, literally! Now, I understand, with my years as a chiropractor, how you may find it challenging to engage your core muscles while sitting. It seems like a conundrum, doesn’t it? But here’s what I found out from my clinical experience: your chair isn’t just for sitting. It’s a secret workout weapon! So let’s talk about 7 chair exercises for abs that you can do, right there in your workspace.
First up, we have seated leg raises. Yes, you can do these while sitting! Keep your spine aligned, maintain the position of your hips above knees and engage your core. If you’re thinking, “This doesn’t feel like much,” well, that’s where you’re wrong! This simple exercise can help improve your posture and alleviate back pain.
Next is one of my favorites – seated toe-taps. You may need a bit of room for this one, but if you can manage, your abs will thank you. Engaging your deep core muscles, simply lift your foot and tap those toes – much like you’re tapping along to a catchy tune!
Our third exercise is the seated rotation. Think of it as dancing while sitting, but with a critical focus on your core muscles. A balanced and strong core is key here. When you do these rotations, they will not only work your abs but also help reduce the risk of back pain.
Have you heard of the “invisible chair sit-up“? No? It’s as easy as it sounds. Simply tense your abdominal muscles as if you’re doing a sit-up. It’s an effective way to engage those deep abdominal muscles.
The seated marching, belly squeeze, and side bends are all effective ways to work out your core and abs, improving your body’s alignment and balance. If your aim is to minimize back pain, then trust me, your exercise routine should include these.
As a caring chiropractor, I want to remind you of the importance of consistency in your workout. Don’t rush – take your time, listen to your body, and most importantly, remember to breathe! These exercises, when performed regularly and correctly, will not only help to strengthen your deep muscles, but they can also contribute to the overall reduction of back pain.
Ultimately, strengthening your core while sitting can be a great way to exercise without having to go to the gym or outside. It doesn’t take much time either — just a few minutes of focused exercise each day is enough to keep your muscles active and performing well. Many sitting exercises target different parts of the core, allowing for full-body workouts that are more effective than an ab routine alone.
Furthermore, strengthening your core also promotes better posture, balance, and stability throughout the entire body such as the legs and spine. While there are many exercises you can do while sitting, try not to overexert yourself — listen to your body and regulate how fast or slow you progress through the exercises. Always take periodic breaks and be sure to stretch so as not to strain or injure any muscles in your body. So why wait? Make an effort today to start strengthening your core while sitting!