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10 Exercises for a Total Body Workout at Home

by Melissa Bell
8 minutes read

How to Do This Workout

Want to begin working out? All you need is a sturdy chair with a high back. Follow these exercises designed for beginners by certified trainer Jessica Smith. This circuit workout includes cardio and strength-training moves to tone your whole body.

Work out details: Do each exercise for the recommended number of reps, with a 45-60 second rest in between moves. Aim for one to three full rounds of this circuit. Use slow, controlled movements and pay attention to your form and how your body feels during the workout. If any move feels too tough for you right now, skip it and go to the next. Do this routine once or twice per week, alternating with 15-20 minutes of your favorite cardio activity, like walking or riding your bike.

Move #1: Squat Stand Up & Reach

Total Body Exercise: 10 repetitions. This first exercise doubles as your warm up, working the muscles throughout your entire body while elevating your heart rate to burn calories in the process.


How to do it: Stand in front of the chair seat, feet slightly wider than hip width, elbows bent with your fists in front of your shoulders. Lower into a squat until you lightly tap the chair with your butt. Stand back up while reaching both arms overhead, spreading your fingers wide and reaching toward the ceiling [as shown in photo B]. Bring the arms back into your original position and repeat.

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Move #2: Seated Jumping Jacks

Cardio Move: 20 repetitions. This jumping jack variation is a great way to get your heart pumping minus the higher impact of the traditional version.


How to do it: Sit tall on the edge of your chair, elbows bent in front of your body, toes lightly tapped on the floor. Quickly open your arms and legs into a wide ‘X’ shape, flexing your feet so that only your heels lightly touch the ground. Repeat as fast as you can.

Move #3: Walking Squats

Lower Body Move: 3 repetitions to the left, 3 to the right. Squats are an excellent lower body toning move and adding a sideways walk targets the inner and outer thigh muscles and glutes even more. Plus, the extra movement helps keep your heart rate in the cardio zone.


How to do it: Stand in front of your chair, feet hip width apart, arms crossed over your chest. In the squat position, take a wide step out to the side with your right foot and then step your left foot in towards your right, landing with your feet hip width. That’s one repetition. Do three ‘walks’ to the right, and then ‘walk’ three times back to the left.

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Move #4: Modified Mountain Climbers

Cardio Move: 20 repetitions. Mountain climbers are a total body exercise that is guaranteed to get you sweating! Doing them with the help of a chair, is easier on the wrists and lighter on the joints, but doesn’t mean they won’t be challenging!


How to do it: Face the chair and hold on to the seat with your hands shoulder width apart. Walk both legs out behind you until you are on your toes in the top of a push up position. Bend your left knee into the chair without touching it and quickly switch legs, [as shown]. That’s one repetition. Repeat as quickly as you can 20 times.

Move #5: Hip Extensions

Lower Body Move: 20 repetitions on each leg. This bun-shaping move is easy on the joints, but tough on your rear. Think about keeping your belly button pulled in tight to your spine as you do it to work your abs, too.


How to do it: Stand tall behind chair, feet together, with hands lightly on the back. Extend your right leg behind you, tapping your left foot on the floor lightly, heel lifted. Keeping good posture, lift your right leg up as high as you can behind your hip, pointing your toe [as shown]. Lower leg and lightly tap foot to repeat. Do 20 on the right and then 20 on the left.

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Move #6: Modified Push-Ups

Upper Body Move: 5-10 repetitions. Performing push-ups on an incline is a simple way to make them easier to do, while still targeting the muscles in your shoulders, arms, abs and chest.


How to do it: Face the chair and place your hands shoulder width apart on the seat. Walk both legs out behind you until you are in the top of a push-up position on your toes (your body should make a straight line from your head to your heels) [as shown in photo A]. Slowly bend your elbows out to the

sides and lower you’re your body about halfway down to the chair. Press back up to starting position. Start with five repetitions, and as you get stronger, work your way up to a full set of 10. If this is still too challenging, try doing them with your hands placed on a wall instead.

Move #7: Seated Twist

Abs Move: 20 alternating repetitions. There’s no need to get on the floor to work your abs! This move targets both the abdominal wall and the oblique muscles that line your sides for a crunch- free way to work your waist.


How to do it: Start sitting on the edge of the chair, arms crossed over chest, feet hip width apart. Brace your abs into your spine (it should feel as if you are bracing for a punch), sit up as tall as you can and take a deep breath in. As you exhale, turn your upper body to the right as you lift your right knee up — your left elbow may touch your right knee as you rotate. Slowly lower and return to the center, then repeat to the left, for a total of 20 repetitions. Need to make it easier? Perform the twist without adding the knee lift.

Move #8: Triceps Dips

Upper Body Move: 5-10 repetitions. Triceps dips help to develop the muscles in the backs of your arms, while strengthening your wrists and shoulders, too.


How to do it: Start sitting on the edge of the chair, holding onto the sides of the chair. Press down with your arms and lift your hips off the chair, walking your feet two steps away from the seat. Bend elbows and lower body toward the floor, keeping back straight and close to the edge of the chair [as shown]. Extend your arms and push body back up. Try up to five repetitions in a row and gradually work your way up to 10 when you feel strong enough.


Move #9: Alternating Rear Lunges

Lower Body Move: 20 alternating repetitions. Get ready to work your entire lower body, develop balance and core strength with this exercise.


How to do it: Stand tall behind chair, feet together, with hands lightly on the back. Shift your weight to your right foot and take a wide step back with your left leg with just the ball of your foot should touching the floor. Bend both knees and lower your body until your front thigh is almost parallel to the floor, maintaining good posture. Slowly extend both legs and step your left foot back in to your right. Repeat with other leg.

Move #10: Power Knees

Cardio Move: 20 repetitions on each leg. Channel your inner karate kid with this low- impact (and fun) cardio power move that will spike your heart rate for one last cardio blast.


How to do it: Stand to the left of the chair, with your right hand on the back. Take a wide step back with your left leg so that just the ball of your left foot touches the floor. Extend your left arm out in front of your shoulder, with your hand in a fist. Quickly bend your left knee, foot flexed, and pull it up in front of your hip, as your bend your left arm and pull your elbow behind your body. Lower your leg and punch your arm out in front of you, and then repeat. Imagine you are striking a board with your fist and knee as you move back and forth. Do 20 repetitions in a row and then switch sides to repeat.

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