Muscles Targeted: The abdominal sit up is a movement commonly performed to strengthen the abdominal muscles. This exercise has a fuller range of motion than the abdominal crunch which allows you to work all of the muscles in the midsection. The other additional muscles conditioned during this exercise include the rectus abdominus, hip flexors, iliopsoas, rectus femoris, sartorius and the tensor fasciae lae. These are mostly muscles in midsection of your body. The abdominal sit ups have greater advantage over the standard crunches as the standard crunch only targets part of the abdominal muscles.
Exercise Instructions: Place a mat on the floor and lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor and your knees bent. Place your hands on either side of your head and execute the exercise by raising your torso up and crunching your abs forward while trying to touch your elbows to your knees. Really focus on keeping your midsection contracted throughout the entire exercise. Slowly lower your body back to the start position and repeat.
Why This Exercise is Important: Abdominal sit ups are important because they help strengthen your abs and build up the core muscles of your trunk and pelvis which help to improve your posture, stability and overall balance.
Things To Avoid: To do abdominal sit ups correctly and achieve good results, you should avoid common faults that jeopardize the safety of the exercise. First, avoid using your hands for support during the sit up. Make sure your abs do all the work. The hands are only supposed to support the weight of the head and not to pull you up. Moreover, to avoid straining your neck, always keep your chin up off your chest to retain the neck in a relaxed, neutral position. Further, you should keep your head aligned with your torso to avoid endangering the cervical region of the spine. To avoid stomach cramps during sit ups, ensure you warm up before you start performing the exercise. Also, perform other exercises to stretch your stomach muscles before starting this exercise. Ensure the movements are smooth, slow and controlled, while feeling the contractions of your abdominal muscles the whole time. Avoid working too fast as this increases the risk of injury to your lower back. It is recommended to work through stages and your abs will grow stronger with time. Lastly, remain hydrated at all times.
Reps and Sets: Beginners should aim for 2-3 sets of about 10-15 reps, intermediates should aim for 3-4 sets of 15–20 reps and advanced athletes should aim for 4-5 sets of 20-30 reps. It is crucial to rest between the sets. The proper rest period should be between 30-60 seconds. As you get stronger with the abdominal sit ups, there are several tricks that you can include to intensify this exercise. These include the hand position drop set, working the sides and trying to hold the contraction at the top while breathing in and out a few times. However, you should avoid some common errors that most people make in order to get the most out of abdominal sit ups. As indicated earlier, use of momentum is a common error. Always use your abdominal muscles to lift yourself up and start with the easiest position first. Moreover, avoid coming up too far and resting at the top since this will make you lose tension.
Other Exercises To Use: You can use other exercises to tighten you abdominal muscles. The lower abdominal raises, reverse sit-ups and incline abdominal sit-ups are incredible variations of standard abdominal sit ups. Other exercises include abdominal crunches, cable crunches, bicycle crunches and lying leg raises. Each of these exercises are great for working the muscles of the midsection and core. View our extensive database of exercise guides for a comprehensive list of all the exercises that target the abs.