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Seated Upper Body Workout

This seated upper body workout targets all the muscles in the upper body including the chest, back, shoulders and arms as well as the core.  Whether you're in a wheelchair, have a lower body injury or simply need to exercise from a seated position, you'll find a variety of moves to help you workout in a comfortable manner. Not all exercises will fit every situation, so show these exercises to your doctor and/or physical therapist before trying them, if you're under a doctor's care.

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

Equipment Needed
A chair, a resistance band (medium or light tension), a medicine ball (2-8 lbs, depending on your fitness level) and various weighted dumbbells.

How To

  1. While seated, sit up very tall for each exercise, using your abs to maintain good posture.
  2. If you're not familiar with strength training, practice the moves without weight or with very light weight to get your form down.
  3. Beginners:  Perform each exercise for 1 set of the suggested reps, choosing a weight that is challenging but allows you to keep good form. 
  4. Intermediate/Advanced:  Perform 2-3 circuits of the exercises, one after the other, resting as needed.
  5. Do this workout 2-3 non-consecutive days a week, taking at least one day of rest between workouts. 
Warm Up - Seated Punches
Punching Seated Punching  Seated Punch Seated Punch
Warm up by jabbing forward, alternating the right and left arms.  When jabbing, snap the arm forward as fast as you can without locking the elbow or fully extending the joint.  Pull the arm back in as quickly as you can, keeping the other arm up and guarding the face, then jab with the other arm.
Front Jabs - 20 reps
High Jabs - Take your punches up toward the ceiling, alternating sides for 20 reps
Front and High Jabs - Punch forward, alternating right and left, then punch high, alternating right and left.  Repeat, going forward and then up for 20 reps.
Repeat 2 more times, moving as fast as you can.
Shoulder Retractions
Shoulder Retraction
Sit tall with the abs engaged and push the arms straight out in front of you without locking the joints.  Bend the elbows and pull them back, squeezing the shoulder blades together, slightly behind the torso.  Continue pushing forward and pulling back for 2 sets of 20 reps.
Medicine Ball Exchange

Sit tall with abs engaged and hold a medicine ball in the right hand, down at your side.  Circle the arm up and overhead, taking the ball with the other hand and lowering it down to the left side.  Continue circling the ball overhead, alternating arms.  For more intensity, go faster or add a toss at the top of the movement.  Repeat for 16 reps.
Chest Squeeze with Med Ball
Chest Squeeze with Med Ball
Sit tall and hold a medicine ball at chest level and squeeze the ball with the palms of hands to contract the chest. While continuing to squeeze the ball, slowly push the ball out in front of you at chest level until elbows are almost straight. Continuing the pressure with your hands, bend the elbows and pull the ball back to chest. Repeat for 16 reps.
Chest Press with Band

Wrap the band around the back of the chair, pulling the band under the armpits and holding the handles in each hand.  Sit very tall with the abs engaged and begin the movement with the elbows at 90 degrees and at shoulder level with the palms facing down.  Squeeze the chest to push the arms straight out in front of you without locking the joints.  Bring the arms back to start, keeping the move slow and controlled.  If you need more tension, you can wrap the band around your hands.  Repeat for 16 reps.
Overhead Press and Alternating Arms
oohpress1.jpg (40851 bytes) oohpress2.jpg (36793 bytes) Overhead Press Alternating ARms Overhead Press Alternating Arms
Sit with good posture holding light-medium dumbbells in both hands.  Begin with arms bent to 90 degrees, weights next to the ears (arms should look like a goal post). Press the weights overhead and lower back down, repeating for 8 reps. Next, keep one arm down while the other arm presses overhead.  Continue alternating arms for 8 reps (1 rep includes both right and left arm).
Front Raise with Triceps Extension

Sit tall and hold weights at your sides.  Sweep the arms up so shoulder level and then continue overhead until the arms are next to the ears. Bend the elbows and lower the weights behind the head to about 90 degrees. Straighten the arms and sweep them back down, repeating 16 reps.
Lat Pull with Band
olatpull1.jpg (39539 bytes)
While seated with good posture, hold a medium-tension 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). Contract the back and pull the right elbow down towards the ribcage.  Release and repeat for 16 reps before switching sides. 
Rear Delt Squeeze
Rear Delt Squeeze
Sit tall and hold band in the middle, arms straight out in front of you, hands a few inches apart. Squeeze the shoulder blades together and pull band so that the arms move out to the sides like an airplane. Return to start and repeat, keeping tension on the band the entire time.  Repeat for 16 reps
Medicine Ball Curl and Press

Sit tall and hold a medicine ball in the right hand down at your side.  Balance the ball in your hand as you curl the arm up in a biceps curl.  At the top of the motion, push the arm out and up toward the ceiling.  Bring the ball back down and lower the arm, repeating for 12 reps before switching arms.
Triceps Extension with Medicine Ball
 
Sit tall and hold a medicine ball straight up over the head, keeping the shoulders away from the ears.  Bend the elbows, lowering the ball behind your head until arms are at about 90 degrees.  Squeeze the back of the arms to straighten the arms, taking the ball back up.  Repeat for 16 reps.
Triceps Extensions with Bands
otriextension1.jpg (42145 bytes) otriextension2.jpg (52702 bytes)
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. 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. Move back to start and for 16 reps before switching arms.
Seated Rotation for Abs
orotation1.jpg (40880 bytes) orotation2.jpg (37677 bytes)
Sit with good posture holding a medicine ball or dumbbell in front of torso, elbows slightly bent. Keeping the abs contracted, rotate the ball to the right while keeping the hips and legs facing forward. Contract abs to bring the ball back to center and then to the left. Go slowly and concentrate on rotating only at the torso
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