6 Captains Chair Abs Exercises and Guidelines – Avoid These Mistakes

Many fat people call it a day after just a week captains chair abs of their weight loss workout routine.

In my opinion, there are two reasons for it.

One reason is that they select the abs workout programs blindly, which contains many pointless exercises that have no proven chances of results.

The next reason is they don’t have faith over the exercises they are doing. Thus, they give up in despair.

There’s still a considerable confusion amongst people to choose the best exercise for shedding stomach fat.

But not after the comparative research conducted by the American Council of Exercise (ACE), which ranked the core exercises in the order of their effectiveness from best to worst.

Among 13 essential core exercises, Captain’s chair abs exercise outperformed all of them and became the best oblique exercise and ranked second for the best abs strengthening exercise.

In this article, our prime focus would be to discuss how Captain’s chair abs exercise can be done for getting definite results from your abs workout.

What is Captains Chair?

Captain’s chair is fitness equipment to train your abs/core while keeping your back (spine) almost neutral. This makes Captain’s chair abs exercise suitable for back pain sufferers too.

It is a seatless chair which is pretty tall and has an arm and backrest. It is fixed high, and you have to use steps generally and get onto it.

The armrest is thickly padded for comfortable support, and backrest is also present to reduce any unnecessary strain in the lower back.

What muscles does the Captain’s Chair abs exercise target?

Captains chair abs exercises require constant abdominal stabilization and rotation in your body, which is proven to induce the most muscle activity in your abs and obliques.

If you’ve done hanging leg raises, the target muscles are pretty much the same, but the difference here is Captain’s chair has back support making it the go-to workout equipment for people stressed by lower back issues.

The primary muscles involved in captains chair abs exercise are abs(rectus abdominis), obliques, and hip flexors.

  • External Obliques
The oblique muscles activate mostly in twisting and turning movement of your torso or upper body. The stronger your obliques, the stronger your lower back will be. Moreover, obliques also help you in improving your posture.
  • Rectus Abdominis

Informally known as abs, rectus abdominis, are vertically lined in your anterior abdomen and occur in the shape of rectangular packs. It extends from your rib cage all the way to your pubic bone.

It is easy to remember the formula to make your abs visible. It is getting your body fat percentage low. However, the method has a whole lot of derivation(work), which is harder to execute in real life.

The rectus abdominis get activated during bending movements, of your spine or torso. It plays an active role in supporting your posture and flexing your body.

The strength of rectus abdominis determines the person’s ability to perform bending workouts (Calisthenics requires solid abs) and protect your lower back is receiving during those workouts.

  • Hips Flexors

Hip flexors are actively involved in movements that require you to lift your knee towards your upper body. Hip Flexors are generally the combined term for representing your lower body muscles like iliopsoas, the rectus femoris, etc.

During major lower body activities like walking, running, and bending, your hip flexors get involved.

Best Captains Chair Abs Exercises

If you’re not sure where to start, here’s a list of Captains chair abs exercise variations that can be incorporated in your abs workout routine.

The exercises are listed based on how strong your core is. The first one suits the beginner who has not yet tested his core strength, and the last one is an advanced exercise, which is pretty tough for shredded guys too.

Bent Knee Raises

The bent knee raises is a beginner-friendly bodyweight core movement in Captains chair abs workout.

In this abs exercise, the knee is raised up towards the lifter’s chest using the abdominal muscles, obliques, and hip flexors.

Like in almost all the abs exercises, the movements done in a controlled way without any swinging motion creates a high impact on how your abs respond.

Major Muscles worked

Rectus Abdominals: Primary Target of Knee Raises
Obliques: Helps in raising the legs and hip stabilization.
Hip Flexors: Helps abs to raise the knees and creates hip flexion.


  1. Development of core strength
  2. Enhancing the stability of midline
  3. Foundation building for advanced core exercises

How to do Bent Knee Raises?

  1. Start by standing on a captain’s chair.
  2. Grip the holds firmly with your hands and keep your back pressed against the back pad to stabilize the upper body.
  3. Take your feet off the floor, supporting your body by pressing forearms against the arm pad.
  4. Keep your legs suspended in the air without any support underneath.
  5. Don’t droop your shoulders; instead, keep your shoulders and upper back healthy.
  6. However, don’t bend or tilt your lower back in any case.
  7. After your raise to your maximum potential without changing the flat position of your back, release your knees back to the original position under control without any momentum.
  8. Keep your legs stiff all the way without swinging.

Bent-knee Oblique Raises

The bent-knee oblique knee raises primarily isolates the oblique muscles. However, the movement also involves your rectus abdominis or six-pack abs.

Major muscles worked:

Rectus Abs: Helps in raising the knees.
Obliques: Isolated inside knee raises.


  1. Isolates obliques
  2. Targets multiple parts of the abs

How to?

  1. After you reach the starting position of knee raises, raise your knees again, but this time knees should be pointed either left or right one side at a time.
  2. Hold the final position for a second and slowly bring down the knees to the starting position.
  3. Repeat for reps on only one side or alternatively on both sides.

Straight Leg Raises

The straight Leg raises comes under one of the most exceptional Captains Chair abs exercises. The straight Leg raises both lower and upper abdominal muscles. It is tough to execute as compared to bent knee raises.

Performing straight Leg builds increases your core strength and adds definition to your abs muscles.

Major muscles worked

  1. Rectus Abs: Helps in raising the knees.
  2. Obliques: Isolated inside knee raises.


  1. Increases core strength
  2. Adds definition to abs

How to Straight Leg Raises?

  1. Start by pressing your back against the backrest, forearms resting on an armrest gripping the handles.
  2. Take off your feet from any support underneath and let them hang straight down.
  3. Keep your core tight and lift your legs in the front, hinging at your waist.
  4. Keep your legs together, and once they become parallel to the floor, hold for a brief second.
  5. Then, Lower them down in a controlled motion without any momentum.


  • Criss-Cross
  • Scissors

Weighted Leg or Knee Raises

With time, Abs gain strength and demand more resistance and variations.

It will become a lot easier to pull off more than dozens of reps without feeling any burn in the core.

Thus, hanging weights like dumbbells in your legs can increase the resistance and stimulate the abdominal muscles to develop.

Weighted leg raises are to be done only when you master the stability required by doing bodyweight versions of leg raises.

How to Weighted Leg or Knee Raises?

  1. Start in the same position as in Leg raises.
  2. Pinch the weight(dumbbell) by the shins of your feet and grasp it firmly.
  3. Raise the legs by flexing hips and knees until your legs remain just parallel to the floor.
  4. After you raise to the maximum potential hold for a brief second and lower down in a controlled manner.

Check out our article on Easy At-home Abs workouts for women.

Resistance Progression | Captains Chair Abs Workout

Captains chair abs exercise basically involves your body weight to train your core. As you perform Captains chair abs exercises daily, your core and shoulders start to gain strength.

As a result, you’ll feel your legs become light, and stability increases. You’ll be able to hit more than the usual number of reps. Thus, that’s the time to be a little creative and add resistance.
Basically, the aim of adding resistance (progressive overloading) is to stimulate the core muscles to develop as they become used-to to your old training fashion and stop responding.
For your ease, I have divided four stages of progression after each of which you should start increasing resistance and add variation.
Stage 0: When you first begin
In this beginning, your legs feel a lot heavier to lift. Keeping your body stable will be tough, and your shoulders feel stressed while supporting the whole body.
Absolute beginners should first spend a couple of days hanging on the Captain’s chair by keeping their back flat and shoulders back.
After a few days, perform bent knee raises as much as you can between 6-12 reps.As you’ll be able to perform bent knee raises for 12 reps on a single set, progress to Stage 1.
Stage 1: Mastering Bent-Knee Raises
Spend the next few days doing bent-knee raises for any rep count between 12-20 reps.Also, practice doing straight Leg raises for 6-12 reps on one set.
Once you become able to hit 20 reps easily without feeling much burn in abs, progress to stage 2.


Stage 2: Mastering Straight Knee Raises

As you’ve mastered bent-knee raises for 20 reps, perform it daily.

In the same abs workout session, push your limits higher by trying to drop 20 reps straight knee raises on one set.

Once you’re able to do that, you’re well off to final stage 2.

Stage 3: Adding Weights To Straight Knee Raises

As your core now demands more than 20 reps for feeling THE BURN, perform the weighted straight knee raises.

Follow a progressive overloading technique to continue burning your core fat and strengthening your abs.
  1. Substage 1: Perform 3 sets of 8-12 reps with 10 lbs weight.
  2. Substage 2: Perform 1 set of 10 lb: weight and 2 sets of 15 lbs weight for 8-12 reps.
  3. Substage 3: Perform 3 sets of 10 lbs, 15 lbs, and 20 lbs for 8-12 reps.

Common Captains Chair Workout Mistakes To Avoid

When performed correctly, the Captains chair abs exercises will undoubtedly give you the desired result. However, if you show them incorrectly, you may feel that they are not working effectively. In such cases, the problem is not in exercise rather in your form and technique.

Follow this exercise guideline and avoid unwanted mistakes:

  • Don’t Arch your lower back.

Arching your lower back puts the strain in your lower back and may cause back pain.

  • Avoid swinging motion/Don’t use momentum.

To get the most out of this workout, focus on doing a few slow and controlled reps. Aim for doing fewer reps but with absolute control and core engagement.

You should keep your abs under constant contraction.

  • Mind muscles connection to your core

On every rep, you should feel the contraction in your abdominals and not elsewhere.

It will give you the desired results and avoid unwanted injuries.

  • Avoid dropping your shoulders and upper back.

Leaning forward or letting your back sag reduces the degree of contraction and stretch produced in your abdominals.

Keep your whole back firmly pressed against the back pad.
  • Follow a proper breathing pattern.

Inhale on raising and exhale on lowering down.

Would you like to know what the top 7 exercises for lower abs would look like?

The Takeaway

Whether you are slamming a tennis ball or mopping the floor, the motions come straight away from your core. Thus, it is crucial to strengthen them with a variation of abs exercises.

Among the various ways of strengthening your abs, Captains chair abs exercises are the most effective techniques, which also keeps your lower back safe.

After all, who does not want six-pack abs popping like cookie biscuits out of your abdomen?

However, Keeping the aesthetic purpose aside, by building a strong core, you are creating a framework for the rest of your abs workouts.

PS: Look after your eating habits, sleeping pattern, and perform effective but safe abs exercises.

If you think this article is helpful, please share your thoughts and experiences of doing Captains chair abs exercises in the comment section below.

FAQs on Captains Chair Abs Exercises

Is Captains Chair Good For Abs?

Yes, you can easily and safely target your abdominal muscles without posing any risks to your lower back. Moreover, it adds definition to your abdominal by also working your hip flexors and external oblique muscles.

Why Captains Chair Abs Exercises?

There are many people who have got real results from it. More importantly, it is proved by ACE to be one of the most effective exercise for abs and obliques.

Which is better Hanging leg raises vs Captains chair leg raises?

For beginners and people with lower back issues, Captains chair exercises are easy and effective way to target the abs muscles. Hanging leg raises are comparatively superior which fits for professional athletes and fitness trainees.


Aaron Reiner

Aaron is a fitness blogger, founder & editor of Prosfitness. He has been lifting weights & writing about fitness for over 3 years. He has been a contributor for several health and fitness publications.

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