9 Ways to Sculpt Your Body On the Couch
Fry Arm Flab
The padded (yet still sturdy) edge of your couch makes the perfect tool for assisted triceps dips. You can cushion your wrists while challenging your arms with a full range of motion.
How to do it: Sit on the edge of the couch with hands just outside of your hips, fingers forward. Lift your body up and walk your feet out until your knees are directly above your heels. Bend your elbows about 90 degrees, lowering your hips towards the floor. Press body up, extending elbows. Try up to 3 sets of 15 reps. Keep your backside close and parallel to the couch during the entire movement—don’t let your hips move away.
Pump Up Your Pushups
The height of a couch is ideal for perfecting your pushup form. Try decline pushups (with hands on couch, feet on the floor) to make them a little easier, or add an extra challenge with an incline (feet on couch, hands on the floor). Try 3 sets of 10-12 reps, focusing on form (avoiding letting your hips sag or back arch).
Can’t make it to the studio? No problem! The edge of your couch makes the perfect “barre” for ballet-inspired workouts (like this total-body sculpting plan). Hold onto it lightly for balance during leg lifts, hip extensions, or standing abs work—no extra equipment required!
Carve Your Core
If you've ever been inside a gym, you’ve seen a captain's chair. It’s the vertical rack with padded arms that allows your legs to hang free. The captain’s chair leg raise is one of the most effective exercises for strengthening the rectus abdominis (the “six-pack muscles”) as well as the obliques, but you can challenge your core just as well on your couch. Here’s how:
Sit tall on the couch with your hands behind your head. Keeping your spine straight and abs pulled in, hinge back slightly from your hips. Bring your knees up towards your chest (without rounding your back), and engage your abdominals to lift and lower your legs. Try alternating legs to make it easier and extending your legs for more intensity. Try 3 sets of 12-15 controlled reps (avoid swinging your legs).
Better Bridge, Better Booty
If you’re not already doing glute bridges, you should be! Not only is this exercise great firming your rear, but the bridge also improves core stabilization—key for preventing lower-back pain. You can do it with your feet flat on the floor, but by grounding your heels on the edge of your couch, you’ll increase your range of motion and boost the burn. Try 3 sets of 15-20 reps.
Anchor Your Resistance Band
Few things are more irritating during a home workout than when your resistance band comes loose and snaps you in the head, multiple times. An easy way to avoid it ever happening again: Anchor your band under the feet of your couch. The weight of the furniture will hold it in place no matter how hard you pull. Try this total-body resistance band workout to test it out.
Use your sofa to slim down by incorporating it into fat-blasting cardio moves. You can use it to make tough moves like burpees, squat thrusts, and mountain climbers more manageable by performing them on an incline (hands on the edge of the couch instead of all the way down to the floor). You’ll still get your heart rate up but alleviate some of the pressure on the wrists and maybe even get through a full set without stopping to catch your breath.
Try timed intervals for your favorite moves: Go for 30 seconds at an all out effort, then rest for 15 seconds. Or make things more challenging by going for a longer 45- to 60-second work set, followed by a 10- to 15-second recovery. Do up to 5 sets of intervals for a serious cardio blaster.
Even Better Than a Bench
Who says a weight bench can’t be comfortable? Your couch is just the right size for supporting your upper back and head (keeping your hips lifted) while you do exercises like chest presses. By only resting your upper body on the couch, you’ll engage more muscles—especially in your core—than you would doing the same moves with your full body on the bench. And more muscles working at once means more calories burned!
To do it: Grab a pair of dumbbells and get into position, resting only your head and shoulders on the couch. Your knees should be bent 90 degrees, feet flat on the floor hip-width apart. Bend your elbows 90 degrees so that they're straight out from your shoulders. Extend arms up, bringing weights together above your chest. Bend your elbows to return to the starting position. Do 3 sets of 10-12 reps. Be sure to use a weight heavy enough to challenge your chest by the last few reps of each set.
Prepare for Perfect Planks
Planks are probably the best all-around abs exercise. They are safe, effective, and efficient—when you use proper form. If you do them incorrectly, you not only cheat yourself out of the benefits, but you can hurt your shoulders or lower back. Performing planks on an incline (hands on the edge of the couch) can help keep your upper body in line and take some pressure off your shoulder joints so you’re more likely to engage your abs.
Try a side plank by placing your right elbow near the edge of the couch, directly below your shoulder. Walk your legs out and cross your left leg over right. The edges of your feet should be pressed into the floor, and your body should form a straight line from your head to your ankles. Extend your left arm up to the ceiling, brace your abs in tight, and think of pressing the right side of your torso away from the couch (don't sink into your arm). Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute on each side.
Photos by: Vanessa Rogers Photography