Not to pin one exercise against another, but when it comes to building a 6-pack, (while protecting your back), the captain’s chair remains dominant.

“Also called a Roman Chair, the captain chair is a piece of equipment you’ll see standing against a wall somewhere in most gyms,” says Michael Wittig, ISSA master trainer. “It looks like an elevated chair with armrests, but no seat, and they will often have dip bars attached to the handrests.”

For those looking to build an impressive midsection, the captain chair is a tool that allows you to hit all angles of your abdominal region while keeping your back health in check. So, if you struggle with lower back issues or simply want killer abs, this machine is for you.

“The captain’s chair stabilizes your back reducing the chance of injury and isolates the rectus abdominis, obliques, and hip flexors,” says Wittig. “It allows individuals who don’t have the strength to do core exercises from a hanging position, and is suitable for individuals of all ages from youth to elderly.”

When utilizing the captain’s chair as part of one’s regular training program, Wittig explains it can strengthen the core, improve posture, and reduce lower back pain.

On that note, if you’re looking to build a stronger core, here’s your guide to using the Captain’s Chair. But before you try a side note; some individuals may not have the upper body strength to hold themselves up in a captain’s chair. “If you question your strength level make sure to have someone with you while you train,” warns Wittig.

How to Use The Captain’s Chair

Proper form is important when using any piece of equipment and helps you not only avoid unnecessary injuries but also allows you to get the most out of the workout. Here, Wittig shows you how to best get into the starting position in the captain’s chair in proper form so you can reap all the benefits from the following exercises.

  1. Rest your forearms on the armrests, grip the hand bars, and press your back into the backrest.
  2. Brace yourself in place with your back and shoulders.
  3. Try not to allow your upper body to sag down.
  4. Allow your legs to hang straight down.
  5. Keep your neck straight and face forward during all exercises.

How To Do The 4 Most Common Captain Chair Exercises

Some of Wittig’s “go-to” captain’s chair exercises include: leg raises, knee raises, knee side raise, and bicycle knee raises. Once you’ve nailed down proper form in the chair, give these exercises a try. You can increase the level of difficulty of these exercises by placing a dumbbell between your feet.

How To Do Captain Chair Bicycle Knee Raises

  1. Get in the starting position with good form.
  2. Raise one leg upward so that it is at a 90-degree angle and leave the other leg hanging.
  3. Raise the second knee to the parallel position whilst simultaneously dropping your starting leg.
  4. In a continuous motion, repeat.
  5. Make sure to maintain a steady pace and to ensure that each knee is raised to the correct level.

How To Do Captain’s Chair Knee Raises

  1. Get in the starting position with proper form.
  2. Bend both your knees and hold them together, forming a squat position in midair.
  3. Raise your knees to your chest. (Be sure to raise them above your hip flexors.)
  4. Lower them to the starting position and repeat.

How to Do Captain Chair Leg Raises

  1. In the starting position, slightly bend your knees and then slowly raise your legs. Stop when they are at a 90-degree angle. Hold this position.
  2. Slowly release your legs until they return to the starting position. Be careful to tighten your abs as you go and don’t let your legs drop.

How To Do Captain’s Chair Knee Side Raise

  1. Get in the starting position
  2. Bend your legs and pivot from the hips to bring your knees up to the right side of your body. Think about bringing your legs up toward your elbow.
  3. Lower your legs back to the start position.
  4. Exhale as you lower your legs.
Asian male performing a Captain's Chair exercise to strengthen his abs
Mdv Edwards

Captain’s Chair Workout for Beginners:

Captain’s Chair Bicycle Knee Raises:  2 sets of 10-12 reps on each side

Captain’s Chair Knee Raises: 2 sets of 10-12 reps

Captain’s Chair Workout for Intermediate and Advanced Level

Captain’s Chair Leg Raise: 3×12-15

Captain’s Chair Knee Side Raise: 3×12-15