A trainer recommends making this simple tweak to your workouts if you want a stronger core and toned arms

Make your workout more challenging with this trainer-approved trick

A smiling woman sits on a chair in her living room, doing a dumbbell workout. She's wearing a sports vest, three-quarter length leggings and sneakers. She holds two dumbbells; one of her arms is straight up overhead and the other is out to the side.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you want a stronger core and toned arms, try this simple tweak to make your upper-body workouts harder: do them sitting down. Certified personal trainer Heidi Neal recommends doing exercises seated, as it requires your core to act as a stabilizer making it more challenging.

It can also force your arm muscles to work harder during exercises. Why? Because when you’re seated, you can’t generate momentum with your lower body, so your arm muscles have to do all of the work.

In Heidi’s seated workout, she demonstrates how to do popular dumbbell moves with a traditional weight or resistance band from a chair. Scroll down to see the full routine.

How to do Heidi Neal's seated workout

Why is chair-based exercise good for you?

While it might seem like exercising sitting down is the ‘easy’ option, it couldn’t be further from the truth. It forces you to isolate your muscles during moves like bicep curls and overhead presses, without extra help from lower-body momentum.

Seated exercises don’t just have to focus on your arms and shoulders. You can do moves like seated leg lifts too, which will help you build your thigh muscles. And as seated workouts are low-impact and joint-friendly, they’re often suitable for people with arthritis or those recovering from an injury.

As always, if you want to increase the difficulty, you can increase the weight you’re using or repeat the movement several times. Make sure you’re sticking to the principles of progressive overload if you want to see continued muscular improvements.

Maddy Biddulph

Maddy Biddulph is a freelance journalist specializing in fitness, health and wellbeing content. With 26 years in consumer media, she has worked as a writer and editor for some of the bestselling newspapers, magazines and websites in the US and UK. 

She is also a qualified L3 personal trainer and weight loss advisor, and helps women over 40 navigate menopause by improving their physical and mental strength. At Maddy Biddulph Personal Training, she runs one-to-one and small group training for menopausal women who want to get fit to ease symptoms and feel like themselves again.