If your want a toned, firm tummy, don’t walk past the captain’s chair apparatus in the gym. Although captain’s chair exercises seem deceptively easy, they are very effective. According to a study commissioned by the the American council on Exercise, exercises done on this apparatus are some of the most effective abdominal exercises you can do. As long as you learn and maintain proper form, they can optimally engage the obliques and rectus abdominis.
Position yourself in the captain’s chair with your feet on the foot rests, your back against the back pad and your forearms on the arm pads. Grasp the handles with your hands and check that your elbows are bent 90 degrees and positioned directly below your shoulders. You might have to adjust the handles if your elbows aren’t below your shoulders.
Step your feet off the foot rests so your legs are dangling vertically above the floor. Avoid sagging; push through your elbows to help keep your shoulders down and away from your ears. Imagine elongating your body.
Engage your core, pulling your navel in toward your spine, and push your back against the back rest. Inhale, and then bend your knees and raise them forward and up toward your chest. Raise them as high as you comfortably can, using the strength of you abdominals.
Pause one second and exhale when your knees are at the highest point, and then slowly reverse the motion, lowering and extending your knees back to the starting point. Really focus on the tension in your abdominals.
Complete eight to 12 knee raises, and two to three sets. Always move slowly and avoid sacrificing form for repetitions. Count to three on the way up and on the way down to ensure you’re moving slowly.
For a greater challenge, keep your legs straight during the ascent.
For variety, rotate from your torso, raising your knees up toward one shoulder. This emphasizes your obliques at the sides of your waist.
American Council on Exercise