Exercises like sit-ups can’t be any more basic than they are. And they don’t get easier without practice and proper form.
According to John Shackleton, MS, CSCS, strength and conditioning coach and men’s basketball coach at Villanova University, the reason these workouts are difficult for most people is because they don’t regularly exercise their abdominal muscles or exercise them incorrectly.
Your failure to improve at sit-ups may be caused by improperly performing them or not performing them frequently enough.
Sit-ups are one of the best exercises for strengthening your core muscles when done correctly. It works the rectus abdominis, the transverse abdominis, and the obliques, which are normally contracted by lifting the upper body from the ground, and this tension breaks them down.
Here are some tips from a strength-conditioning coach on how to do situps better
1. Ensure correct foot placement
Grasp the floor with both feet. Placing your feet underneath dumbbells or other types of structures, such as a weight rack, is a simple way to do this. Shackleton says this keeps one’s body stationary while doing sit-ups, so she can focus on leaving the abdominals exhausted rather than struggling to control her lower body while doing the sit-ups. With each attempt, you will become better due to the grounding sensation. Keeping your feet firmly planted, practice perfect reps as you improve.
2. Make sure you are presenting yourself correctly
It is vital to maintain good form-bad form can make training less effective, which can lead to injury and a lack of progress. Cross your arms at your chest when doing a sit-up. “I recommend crossing your arms at your chest as opposed to hands behind the head to keep any unnecessary strain off of the neck,” says Shackleton.
Monitoring your spine is also important. Sitting-ups can be performed incorrectly if the spine is rounded after rising off the ground, he says. From the hips to your shoulders, you should maintain a strong posture as you sit up. Keeping your core and low back under tension will protect your lower back.”
3. Breathing properly
Breathing is important. “I recommend breathing in for 3 seconds on your way down and then exhaling for 3 seconds on your way up,” says Shackleton. “By simply breathing out and forcing the air out of your lungs while sitting up you will create more contraction on your abdominal muscles.”
In addition to protecting the spine, you can maximize muscle recruitment by contracting the abdominal muscles more often so that the worked muscles can grow bigger and stronger.
4. Be aware of all movements
Control your body and movements as you do each sit-up. “I recommend doing three sets of 10-15 sit-ups for beginners and when you notice that you are pausing at the top or bottom of a sit-up, or you’re swinging your body back and forth, then stop and take a break,” says Shackleton
Starting a new set is possible from there. Gaining fitness requires you to continually exercise at your limits, without compromising your form or putting yourself at risk for injury.
5. Allow yourself time to recover
According to Shackleton, your muscles will build back stronger if you practice proper recovery. By doing sit-ups regularly and the right way, you can better strengthen your core, which leads to better balance, stability, athletic performance, improved posture and reduced risk of injury.
This is how crunches should be performed:
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