7 Great Captain’s Chair Exercises

7 Great Captain's Chair Exercises

What’s the Captain’s chair, you’re wondering?

Believe it or not, the Captain’s Chair exercise has been named by the American Council on Fitness as one of the most effective pieces of equipment to work the abs and obliques. So, why haven’t you heard of it?

You may not know the name but you have no doubt seen the machine in action. The home version of the Captain’s Chair is called a Power Tower. It combines a pull-up bar with a pair of elbow supports that allow your body to hang in mid-air. In commercial gyms, it is a stand-alone piece of equipment that is known as the Captain’s Chair.

So, now that we’re on the same page, let’s look at how you can get the most out of it. Here are 7 awesome Captain’s Chair exercises to crush your core and obliques.

1. Captain’s Chair Crunch

How to Do a Captain’s Chair Crunch

  1. Mount the captain’s chair with your elbows resting on the elbow pads and your hands gripping the handles. Your legs should be hanging directly down with your back against the back pad.
  2. Keeping your back against the back support, bend your knees, and crunch up to your chest.
  3. Contract your abs in the top position.
  4. Lower under control and repeat.

Captain’s Chair Crunch Training Tips

Be sure to bring your knees higher than the level of your hips in order to fully contract and extend the rectus abdominis.

2. Captain’s Chair Straight Leg Lift

How to Do a Captain’s Chair Straigh Leg Lift

  1. Mount the captain’s chair with your elbows resting on the elbow pads and your hands gripping the handles. Your legs should be hanging directly down with your back against the back pad.
  2. Keeping your back against the back support, lift your straightened legs up by hinging at the hips.
  3. Come up until your legs are parallel to the floor.
  4. Lower under control and repeat.

Captain’s Chair Straigh Leg Lift Training Tips

Do not swing or otherwise use momentum to get your legs up to a parallel position. Take 2-3 seconds to lower your legs back to the start position.

3. Captain’s Chair Single Straight Leg Lift

How to Do a Captain’s Chair Single Straight Leg Lift

  1. Mount the captain’s chair with your elbows resting on the elbow pads and your hands gripping the handles. Your legs should be hanging directly down with your back against the back pad.
  2. Keeping your back against the back support, lift your straightened right leg up by hinging at the hip. Keep the left leg down.
  3. Come up until the right leg is parallel to the floor.
  4. Lower under control and repeat

Captain’s Chair Single Straight Leg Lift Training Tips

Concentrate on a slow, deliberate movement. Do not bend your lifted leg. Focus on unilateral contraction in the parallel eg position on every move.

4. Captain’s Chair Oblique Crunch

How to a Captain’s Chair Oblique Crunch

  1. Mount the captain’s chair with your elbows resting on the elbow pads and your hands gripping the handles. Your legs should be hanging directly down with your back against the back pad.
  2. Keeping your back against the back support, bend your knees up and to the right by hinging at the hips.
  3. Contract your obliques forcefully in the top position.
  4. Lower under control and repeat, this time bringing your knees across to the left.

Captain’s Chair Oblique Crunch Training Tips

Perform the exercise slowly and under control. 

5. Captain’s Chair Straight Leg Hold

How to Do a Captain’s Chair Straight Leg Hold

  1. Mount the captain’s chair with your elbows resting on the elbow pads and your hands gripping the handles. Your legs should be hanging directly down with your back against the back pad.
  2. Keeping your back against the back support, hinge at the hips to bring your straightened legs up to parallel level.
  3. Hold the top position for the required length of time.
  4. Lower and repeat.

Training Tips

Begin with a goal of holding for 30 seconds and then work towards a full minute hold.

6. Captain’s Chair Scissor Kicks

How to Do a Captain’s Chair Scissor Kick

  1. Mount the captain’s chair with your elbows resting on the elbow pads and your hands gripping the handles. Your legs should be hanging directly down with your back against the back pad.
  2. Keeping your back against the back support, hinge at the hips to bring your slightly bent left leg up to a 45-degree position.
  3. Push back down with your left leg as you bring your right leg to a 45-degree position.
  4. Continue this scissor action in a fast, fluid motion.

Captain’s Chair Scissor Kics Training Tips

Keep your back against the pack support at all times. Maintain a slight knee bend throughout but keep your legs locked in this position so that the only movement is through your hips.

7. Captain’s Chair Criss Cross

How to Do a Captain’s Chair Criss Cross

  1. Mount the captain’s chair with your elbows resting on the elbow pads and your hands gripping the handles. Your legs should be hanging directly down with your back against the back pad.
  2. Keeping your back against the back support, hinge at the hips to bring your straightened left leg up and across your body.
  3. Push back down with your left leg as you bring your right leg across your body
  4. Continue this cross cross action in a fast, fluid motion.

Captain’s Chair Criss Cross Training Tips

Perform the exercise in a fast action, while maintaining control and keeping your back against the back support.

Captain’s Chair Workout Routine

You now have seven extremely effective Captain’s Chair moves to hit your entire core area, especially the abs and obliques. Here is a killer circuit that will challenge your core …

Exercise One

Captains Chair Crunch x 15 reps.

Exercise Two

Straight Leg Lift x 12 reps.

Exercise Three

Single Straight Leg Lift x 12 reps each side.

Exercise Four

Oblique Crunch x 10 reps each side.

Exercise Five

Straight Leg Hold x 30 seconds.

Exercise Six

Scissor Kicks x 8 reps (count both legs up as one rep).

Exercise Seven

Criss-Cross x 8 reps (count both legs across as one rep).

Perform the workout in a circuit fashion, moving from one exercise to the next with no rest between them. Then get off the Captain’s Chair and rest for 60 seconds before doing another round of the circuit. Work up to doing 4 rounds.

Wrap Up

Your Captain’s Chair workout should form one phase of your core training program. You should also do a cable core workout that includes cable crunches, side bends, and torso rotations. Most people overtrain their core. Remember that it needs rest to recuperate and develop just like any other muscle group. Hit your core once every 5 days for maximal benefit. Be sure, too, to reduce caloric intake and perform cardio workouts to reduce stored body fat around your core area. 

This article was last updated on September 20, 2021 .

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Published
Categorized as Exercise

By Steve Theunissen

Steve is a former gym owner, personal trainer, and 20-year veteran of the fitness writing industry. Steve has written for websites such as Hardcore Muscle, Fitness, Carblite, and Men's Health and has been a fitness expert columnist for 2 international magazines.