Seated Total Body Workout for Overweight Exercisers

This total body workout targets the upper and lower body with a variety of exercises that can be done while seated. That makes it a great choice for people who are overweight or obese and may need more support during exercise. 

See your doctor before trying this workout if you have any injuries, illnesses or other conditions, and modify any exercise that causes pain or discomfort.

Equipment Needed

These seated exercises are designed to be performed on a chair. Some of them also require the use of paper plates to do the movement. Others use resistance bands with various tensions, a medicine ball, or various weighted dumbbells.

The upper body exercises use dumbbells and/or resistance bands for intensity. If you want more intensity while doing the lower body exercises, you can add ankle weights. You can also make the workout harder by sitting on an unstable surface, such as an exercise ball.

How to Do the Seated Workout

Choose a chair that allows you to keep your knees at a 90-degree angle when seated. Sit up tall during each exercise and use your abs to maintain good posture.

Perform each exercise for 1 set of 16 repetitions (reps). After you're familiar with the moves and feel ready, increase to 2 or more sets. Do this workout 2 to 3 nonconsecutive days a week, taking at least one rest day between workouts.


Slides Back and Forth

  1. Sit tall and place paper plates under each foot.
  2. Push onto the right plate and slide the foot forward.
  3. Slide the foot back, pressing onto the plate to activate the hamstrings (back of the thigh), while sliding the left foot forward. 
  4. Continue alternating for 16 reps. (One rep includes both right and left slides.)

Outer Thigh Toe Taps

  1. Sit tall in the chair and wrap a resistance band around the middle of the thighs. 
  2. Step the right foot out to the side, touch lightly, and then bring it back in, focusing on the outer thigh. 
  3. Now step out with the left foot; repeat for a total of 16 reps. (One rep includes both the right and left taps.)

Leg Extensions

  1. Sit tall with feet flat on the floor and knees together. 
  2. Squeeze the quads (front of the thighs) to straighten the right leg while keeping the foot flexed.
  3. Bend the knee to lower the foot, lightly touching the floor.
  4. Repeat for 20 reps and switch sides.
  5. Optional: If desired, add ankle weights for more intensity.

Ball Taps

  1. Place a medicine ball in front of you and sit tall with the abs engaged.
  2. Lift the right foot and tap the toes on top of the medicine ball.
  3. Take it back down and tap with the left foot.
  4. Continue tapping the ball, alternating feet, as fast as you can, repeating for 16 to 20 reps.

Inner Thigh Squeezes

  1. While seated with good posture, place an exercise ball between your knees.
  2. Squeeze the ball by contracting the inner thighs and release slightly—don't release all the way.
  3. Repeat for 16 reps.

Lat Pulls With Band

  1. While seated with good posture, hold a medium-tension resistance band in both hands, up above and slightly in front of your head. The distance between your hands will determine the intensity of the exercise (closer together is harder, further apart is easier).
  2. Contract the back and pull the right elbow down toward the ribcage. 
  3. Release and do 16 reps before switching sides. 

Chest Squeezes With Med Ball

  1. Sit on an exercise ball or chair with your back straight and abs in.
  2. Hold a medicine ball (or any other type of ball) at chest level and squeeze the ball to contract the chest.
  3. While continuing to squeeze the ball, slowly push the ball out in front of you at chest level until elbows are almost straight.
  4. Continuing the pressure with your hands, bend the elbows and pull the ball back to chest.
  5. Repeat for 16 reps.

Seated Lateral Raises

  1. Sit with good posture, holding light-to-medium dumbbells at your sides.
  2. Keeping the elbows slightly bent and wrists straight, lift the arms outward to shoulder level (palms face the floor).
  3. Lower back down and repeat for 16 reps.

Overhead Presses

  1. Sit with good posture, holding light-to-medium dumbbells in both hands. 
  2. Begin the move with arms bent to 90 degrees, weights next to the ears (arms should look like a goal post).
  3. Press the weights overhead and lower back down.
  4. Repeat for 16 reps. 

Biceps Curls

  1. Sit and hold light-to-medium dumbbells.
  2. Curl the weight up toward your shoulder and release. (Avoid swinging the weights, and keep the abs engaged.)
  3. Repeat for 16 reps.

Triceps Extensions With Bands

  1. Sit with good posture, holding a band out in front of you with elbows bent out to the sides at shoulder level, palms facing the floor. (The distance of your hands will determine the intensity.)
  2. While keeping the left hand in place, straighten the right arm out to the side until it's parallel to the floor, squeezing the back of the arm.
  3. Move back to start and repeat for 16 reps before switching sides.

Seated Ab Rotations

  1. Sit with good posture holding a medium dumbbell in front of your chest.
  2. Keeping the abs contracted, rotate the torso to the right while keeping the hips and legs facing forward.
  3. Contract the abs to bring the weight back to center and then rotate to the left.
  4. Repeat for 12 reps.
1 Source
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. McQueen MA. Exercise aspects of obesity treatmentOchsner J. 2009;9(3):140-143.

By Paige Waehner, CPT
Paige Waehner is a certified personal trainer, author of the "Guide to Become a Personal Trainer," and co-author of "The Buzz on Exercise & Fitness."