The Cheapest, Most Effective 30-Day Challenge Yet

Photographed by: James Farrell.
Hold up: Did you somehow get the impression that you have to have a gym membership or fancy fitness equipment to get a sick workout? The truth is, all you really need is your body itself in order to exercise — but if you happen to have a chair (and I'm pretty sure you do, somewhere), you can dial up the volume and really challenge yourself at home.

Awesome things about chairs — other than the fact that sitting feels really great sometimes, if we're being honest — include:

1. You can use them as substitute barres for ballet-inspired workouts.
2. They can function as workout benches for many moves.
3. The elevated platform (a.k.a. the seat) can make some moves more accessible, and make others harder. It's all about gravity!

That's why we're bringing you this 30-day full-body fitness challenge that only requires a chair. You'll combine barre- and Pilates-inspired moves with a core engager (yep, you can do core work while sitting!), plus a good old-fashioned push-up for good measure. By the end of the month, you'll feel stronger — and you'll never look at a chair the same way again.

Little safety note before we get going: It's important to make sure the chair you're using is sturdy and balanced, and that it's sitting on a stable surface. You might want to push it up against a wall for extra support. (As much as I love the idea of squeezing in a workout at the office, if you sit on a rolling desk chair, I can't really endorse it.)

Read on for the 30-day calendar and the moves.
Advertisement
1 of 5
Illustrated by: Abbie Winters
Here's how to use the calendar:

Bridges = Chair Bridges
Lifts = Knee Lifts
Lunges = Lunge Pulses — if a side (L or R) is listed, do that side and then move on to the next move. If there isn't a side listed in parentheses, do the prescribed number of lunge pulses on each side before moving on.
Push-ups = Incline Push-ups

When you see x2 or x3 or x4 at the end of the list of moves, that refers to the number of sets. So do each move for the prescribed number of reps without taking a break, and then rest for one minute between sets.
2 of 5
Photographed by: James Farrell.
Chair Bridges
Lie down in front of the chair with your butt close to the chair's front legs and your heels resting on the seat. Engage your core and butt to lift your hips high, so that your knees, hips, and chest are in a straight line, diagonal to the floor. Lower back down.

(FYI, this is significantly harder than a regular bridge, so if you need to work your way up to it, simply start with your feet on the floor, heels just barely brushing your fingertips if you reach towards them. Once you feel stronger, give it a shot with the chair.)

Livi Active Strappy-Back Active Tee, $29.99, available at Lane Bryant; Livi Active Signature Stretch Capri Leggings with Mesh, available at Lane Bryant; Forever 21 Plus Size Medium Impact Marble Print Sports Bra, available at Forever 21; Nike Air Huarache Sneakers, available at Nike.
Advertisement
3 of 5
Photographed by: James Farrell.
Knee Lifts
Sit up straight on the chair with your toes lightly resting on the floor in front of you and your hands grasping the back of the chair for support. Engage your core to lift your knees as high as possible; then, lower them toward the right side, tapping your toes on the floor to the right of the chair. Lift the knees back to the center; then, lower and tap on the left side. One circuit of lift-down-lift-right-lift-left counts as one rep.

Livi Active Trutemp Active Tank with Mesh, $44.95, available at Lane Bryant.
4 of 5
Photographed by: James Farrell.
Incline Push-ups
Stand facing the seat of the chair, and place your hands on the outside edges of the seat. Walk your feet back so you're in a straight-arm plank with your hands on the chair. Bend your elbows and lower your body in a straight line towards the chair, and then push back up.

Livi Active Wicking Laser Cut Out Active Tee, $44.95, available at Lane Bryant.
5 of 5
Photographed by: James Farrell.
Lunge Pulses
Stand next to the chair, with the back of the chair facing your left side. Spread your legs wide — left foot forward and right foot back — with both toes pointing forward; then, bend both knees and lower down into a lunge, with both knees at about 90-degree angles. (Aim your left knee toward your middle toes to keep it from collapsing inward.) Lift up about three inches; then, lower again.

Livi Active Cooling No-Wire Sports Bra, $49.99, available at Lane Bryant.
Advertisement