Take the “Ouch” Out Of Couch With These Exercises

There’s no “ouch” in couch with HipFit’s couch exercises. If you’re doing them right, these micro-workouts don’t hurt. Oh, you’ll feel the burn- you might even get winded- but you won’t hurt. These couch exercises are nothing more than fun bursts of fitness crafted to fit nicely in those 1-3 minute commercial breaks on TV, and whenever you’re tempted to be lazy and zone out on your couch.

Resist the urge to nod-off on that lazy Saturday afternoon, and instead, bust out a few easy leg raises, or a nice rotator cuff stretch. When that text book you’re reading starts to put you to sleep- and you find yourself reading the same line over and over- crank out some big-ass book curls. Maybe you’ve spent just a little too much time sitting in one place and you’ve got numb-butt. We’ve got you covered with our couch butt stretch. You can up your couch game with some challenging couch dips or decline pushups.

The next time someone tries to call you a couch potato, tell them, “Be careful who you’re calling Lazy-Boy,” then challenge them to one of the many exercises in this article.

Big Ass Book Dumbbel Curls On The Couch

What’s in it for me: The irony is not lost on us that this exercise is known as a “concentration curl,” in the body-building industry. After all, it takes concentration to read a book, right? Now, HipFit will show you how to move the concentration to your biceps with our dumbbell book curls. Whether you’re reading War and Peace for enjoyment or studying Chem 1A, the bigger the book, the better the workout. The idea is to get a full range of motion in the biceps- really get some blood flowing into the muscle, doing a good concentrated curl.

How To Do It: Find a heavy book. Sit at the edge of the couch with book in hand and spread your legs with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Start by holding the book between your knees. Hold your upper arm against your torso and curl the book forward while contracting the biceps. You should only be moving your forearm. Stop when the book reaches shoulder level. Slowly return the book back to the starting position. Try not to swing your arms. Repeat several repetitions before switching the book to your left hand.

Couch Bike

What’s in it for me: We haven’t forgotten about your abs, and this exercise proves it. The couch bike can be accomplished at just about any pace- it’s totally up to you. You can do these bicycle kicks with your hands planted beside you on the couch, or kick it up a notch- literally- by cupping your hands in front of your chest and rotating your body side-to-side as you kick. This one’s fun to do during commercial breaks because it doesn’t take long to break a sweat.

How to do it: Seat yourself on the front edge of the couch and lean backward, placing your hands in your lap. For extra support, place your hands on the couch next to your hips. With your knees bent and in a slightly outward orientation, raise both feet and begin to kick and spin in a bicycle rotation. Tighten your abdominal muscles while your feet are raised. Do this exercise for 30 seconds and repeat as tolerated.   

Butt Stretch On The Couch

What’s in it for me: Americans sit a lot. A LOT. We’re sitting an average of 10 hours each day according to a Washington Post study and a published article on the subject. That’s more than 80% of our waking hours. Remaining in a seated position for that long- whether in a chair, on the ground or on the couch- tends to cause stiffness and cramping of the major muscles throughout your body. Our butt stretch is designed to increase blood flow and decrease the amount of tension build-up after a long day of sitting. This one is a great exercise to do just before bed, and the best part is it’s only recommended to hold and stretch this position for ten-second intervals.

How to do it: Fitness enthusiasts recognize this as a modified version of the Piriformis stretch. You’ll be stretching a small muscle group supporting your glutes, so the range of motion and stretch intervals are short. Start with your left foot flat on the floor, or on the seat of the couch in front of you. Cross your right leg over your left knee and rest the right ankle on top of the left knee. Extend your sternum straight up while applying gentle pressure to your right leg, holding the stretch for up to 30 seconds. Switch legs and repeat. For an advanced stretch, lean forward, drawing your chin closer to your legs.

Couch Dips

What’s in it for me: If someone walks in on you in the middle of this tricep workout, they might think you’ve fallen off the couch and are trying to get up- especially when they see the funny look on your face as you focus on the exercise. It’s an arm-burner, this one. We want you to perform couch dips with slow, deliberate movements in order to keep the “ouch” out of the couch. Your body will tell you when you’ve had enough, so keep your expectations reasonable with couch dips- they’re a challenge.

How to do it: If your couch cushions are soft and fluffy, remove them and use the frame of the couch for support. Position yourself seated on the floor, facing away from the couch with your arms behind you. Reach up and place your hands on the couch, supporting your body with your feet flat on the floor, knees bent at a 45 degree angle. You can fully extend your legs for a more advanced range of motion. With your head straight and eyes forward, dip your bottom to the floor and raise yourself back up. Do as many sets of 10 as you can tolerate.

Couch Push-up

What’s in it for me: We like this exercise because it’s so familiar and very customizable. Simple tweaks to arm and leg position make it perfectly suited for women and men of all fitness levels. People with limited or compromised upper body strength benefit from couch pushups because of the nearly-vertical orientation of the exercise. You can do as many reps as you want and go at your own speed. Parents, invite your kids to belly-up to the couch and see who can do the most pushups in one minute.

How to do it: Feel free to use any part of the rigid frame of your couch for this exercise. The HipFit team likes to use the leading edge of the couch seat since it’s the lowest and creates the greatest challenge. Place your arms slightly wider than shoulder width and walk your feet backwards until your legs are fully extended and your back is straight. Look down at the couch and inhale as you dip your chest just above the edge of the couch. Rise back up, exhaling as you go, and stop when your elbows are fully extended. Draw your belly button in and tuck your pelvis throughout the whole exercise.

Couch Decline Push-up

What’s in it for me: Up your couch game with these decline pushups. What’s not to love about this variation on the basic pushup? Especially when you consider that HipFit shows you how to do them in quick succession, for just 1-3 minutes at a time. You’ll work three large muscle groups all at the same time with just a few reps: chest, shoulders and triceps. While you’re at it, tighten your abs and glutes with each repetition and tone that core.

How to do it: You’ll work quickly with these reps; they’ll be over before you know it. Position yourself in the traditional pushup position, but rest your toes in the middle of the couch cushion. Position your knees to rest on the front edge of the sofa for a slightly easier pushup. Tuck your elbows in to your sides and keep your back straight. Using your chest and pectoral muscles, drop your upper body to the floor and raise back up, exhaling as you rise. Make your movements deliberate and swift and keep an eye on your form.

Couch Crunches

What’s in it for me: If you’re gonna do crunches, you may as well do them from the comfort of your couch, right? There’s no need to head to the gym and fight over the crunch machine. We’ll show you how to do it, right from your sofa. When you do these ab-flatteners the HipFit way, you get a high-impact workout in a very short amount of time. This exercise is perfectly suited to follow a wide open stretch of your chest and shoulders. Make it the first one you do after a long nap, or whenever you feel the need to get the blood flowing.

How to do it: HipFit’s couch crunches will wake you up and get the blood pumping. This exercise is a little more demanding than others but we know you can do it. Sit all the way back into the couch and place your arms either behind your head or straight out in front of you. Pull your feet up off the floor. Move your trunk forward and raise both legs slightly toward the ceiling. Concentrate on drawing your navel to the back of your spine. Return to the back of the couch and repeat for one minute.

Couch Squats

What’s in it for me: In case you didn’t already feel like a badass with this exercise, this should make it even better. The body building community calls this workout the Bulgarian Split Squat. The name alone sounds hardcore. You’re working the glutes through this entire range of motion. If you feel strain in your hips or low back, reposition and start again. We like it because you also build balance and improve posture with a little practice.

How to do it: Perfect form is important with couch squats. Stand facing away from the couch and lift your right leg up onto the couch cushion. With both arms at the hips, lean forward slightly and drive your weight through your stationary ankle to the floor. This positions your pelvis in a way that allows you to keep from overextending your knee as you drop down. Once you feel anchored to the floor, drop your knee to the ground and slowly rise back up. You should feel no strain in your back and hips.

Leg Flexing – Side Leg Raises On The Couch

What’s in it for me: If you power walk, or run as part of your fitness regimen, here’s an indispensable exercise. Strengthen your glutes and stabilize the muscles in your quads and knees by doing this simple micro-workout. Studies show that sitting at the computer for long periods and generally being sedentary contribute to a phenomenon that causes hip flexors to shorten, which can lead to nerve and back pain. You may experience stiffness and even numbness. Do a couple sets of this sexy-looking exercise and your glutes- and hips- will thank you later.

How to do it: Lay on your side, propping yourself up on your elbow. Stiffen your top leg and simply raise it toward the ceiling. It may take some practice to raise it high- don’t rush it. Focus on keeping your hips straight, not tilted forward or backward. While range of motion varies from person to person, the benefits to your quads and hip flexors are the same for everyone.

Folding Knife – Leg Raises On The Couch

What’s in it for me: It’s funny how the simplest looking exercises can sometimes cause the most grief. We don’t like grief any more than you do…SO, here’s a way to keep it in check. The folding knife leg raise is actually a variation on a more advanced move called a jack knife. You’ll stabilize your body with your arms in order to target your lower abs while lifting your feet together. Your abs will benefit most but don’t be surprised if you feel the burn in your hamstrings too. Grunting is allowed- heck, it’s encouraged.

How to do it: Situate your bottom at the front edge of the sofa and support yourself with both hands at your sides, much like you did with HipFit’s Couch Bike exercise. Place stiff legs out in front of you with your heels touching the floor. Draw your navel inward toward your spine and raise both stiff legs simultaneously about 12” off the floor. Hold for a few seconds before slowly dropping them to the floor. Complete 20 reps and do as many sets as you can tolerate.

Rotator Cuff Stretch On The Couch

What’s in it for me: For a stretch that’s also known as the “sleeper stretch,” we don’t think you’ll be doing much sleeping while stretching your rotator cuff. Not to imply that this will hurt- because it won’t- but it’s a relatively complicated set of movements to get this right. Practice in short bursts, and only a few times a week. Your goal is to improve range of motion and success is measured in mere inches.

How to do it: Lay on the side of the arm you are stretching and place your weight on the shoulder. Stack your knees and feet, slightly rolling forward onto the arm below. Place your opposite hand on the wrist of the arm touching the couch. Exert light force and push your wrist downward toward the floor. At some point in the downward journey, you’ll feel tension in your arm. Stop and hold at that point. With enough practice, you’ll be able to push past the tension point. Hold this stretch for ten seconds at a time.

Side Crunches On The Couch

What’s in it for me: Oh how we love our soft, squishy couches. Truer words have never been spoken. Until – that is- you do some side crunches on the couch. The deeper the cushion, the harder the pushin’. Side crunches are the specialists in the crunch universe. This exercise isolates the part of your abs that lie beneath those beloved love handles. Small, targeted, and deliberate movements make all the difference. Add side crunches to your exercise regimen and kiss the love handles goodbye.

How to do it: Don’t expect big sweeping movements with these crunches. Side crunches involve small, careful motion. Lie down on either side and stack your ankles. Bend your knees slightly and focus on keeping them together during the crunch. Clasp your hands in front of you at your chest. In a crunch-like motion, lift your torso off the couch cushion, drawing your ribcage toward your hip. Lower your trunk down and repeat.

Hip Flexor Stretch On The Couch

What’s in it for me: Studies show that sitting at the computer for long periods and generally being sedentary contributes to a phenomenon that causes hip flexors to shorten, which then leads to nerve and back pain. Elongate your hip flexors by doing this simple micro-workout from the comfort of your couch. You can stretch your hip flexors on a yoga mat or soft carpet if you want, but we like the couch because it contributes to balance and stability while stretching your hip flexors.

How to do it: Place your right leg up onto the back side of the couch and relax your foot. Your left leg should be planted on the floor, hugging the couch frame. Keeping your pelvis in a comfortable neutral position, squeeze your glutes and gently push forward until you feel the stretch in your hips. Be careful not to lunge forward. Hold the stretch for a full minute, then switch legs and repeat.

Who knew there are so many ways to exercise right from the comfort of your favorite couch? You can flex, stretch, curl, dip and squat your way to a healthier you. These fun fitness bursts invigorate you on your laziest days and strengthen your tired muscles from head to toe. Watch your form as you’re learning how to do them and mix up the workouts to keep it interesting.

Team Hipfit

We're the team that brings you micro-workouts, stretches and physical therapy inspired exercises for everyday life situations. Improve your Posture. Prevent Repetitive Strain Injury. Live Pain-Free. Have fun doing so!

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