Doing sit-ups is a quick way to get stronger abdominal muscles. However, they must be done properly to avoid any injury to your spine and the neck and head muscles. In addition, sit-ups are about using the abdominal region (the abdominals). Therefore, close attention must be paid to ensuring that you are not compensating by using other parts of your body to perform sit-ups, as this will diminish the effectiveness of the sit-up and may cause injury to your body. It is not as harsh as it sounds - always, always focus on the abs and you are most of the way there.
1Have your knees bent and the balls of your feet and heels placed flat on the ground.
2Place your hands on opposing shoulders, so that your arms are crossed over your chest, or behind your head. This allows you a central rising point.
3Tighten your abdominal muscles gently by drawing in your belly button to your spine.
4Keeping your heels on the ground and your toes flat to the ground, slowly and gently lift your head first, followed by your shoulder blades. Focus your eyes on your bent knees, all the while gently contracting the abdominal muscles. Pull up from the floor until you are at a ninety-degree angle, or when the elbows are on, or past, the knees.
5Hold the position for a second. Slowly bring the torso back to the floor but try to keep it slightly elevated off the ground. This means not to place your back flat to the ground but to keep a slight, yet relaxed, arch.
6Repeat steps 3-5 for the remainder of the exercise. Only do two to three if you are a beginner and slowly build up the amount over time, as your strength increases. Then hopefully you will lose weight, too!
Are cramps normal for a beginner or should I stop practicing sit ups?User ContributorThere shouldn't be cramps, it should just be lactic acid which means your abs are building up. If you know for sure it's cramps, then do less each time. Don't overdo it.
How do I keep my feet in the right position if I have nobody to hold them down for me?User ContributorI've found that tucking my toes underneath a couch or bureau helps to keep my feet in place.
Do sit-ups reduce belly fat?User ContributorNo. Sit-ups will increase ab muscles and give them more definition, but there's no way to specifically target fat loss for specific areas; fat is lost consistently all over the body.
Does my head have to touch the floor to do a correct curl-up?User ContributorFor correct form, yes, your head should touch the floor. Tighten your abdominal muscles gently by drawing in your belly button to your spine. Repeat steps 3-5 for the remainder of the exercise. Only do two to three if you are a beginner and slowly build up the amount over time, as your strength increases.
How do I regulate my breathing and keep my energy going?User ContributorIt is very difficult to stay on this rhythm, but breathing in on the way up and out on the way down is most efficient. As for energy, just make sure you have good form and you can work your way up each time.
How to stop your legs from lifting off the ground when doing situps?Something heavy on your feet should do the trick.
Where do I put my arms for more difficult sit-ups?Crossed over your chest.
|This video shows how a demonstration of a military style situp.|
- If you're having a hard time keeping the balls of your feet or heels on the ground keep at it, try asking a friend to keep them down. You can also find a heavy object (such as a sofa chair) and place your feet under it. This will give you support when attempting to bring yourself up.
- Moderation is the key to any abdominal exercise since the abs are literally the center of the body. If you think about it, in everything you do in daily life (walk, run, sit, stand, reach up for something, etc.) you have movement at or through your abs. With that in mind, be aware that if you overdo the sit-ups (or any abdominal exercise) you run the risk of ruining your next day with pain in the abdominal region. If you are a beginner, start out slowly and gradually do more.
- If you need help getting up ask a friend or a family member to stand on your feet. Tell you family member or friend to not stand too hard.
- As you get stronger, try a Pilates variation to this exercise: Instead of holding your hands behind your head or on your shoulders, keep your hands straight next to your torso and as you rise into the sit-up, glide the arms forward and then raise the arms at the same time as your torso and stretch them forwards. Keep the shoulders relaxed and do not nod your head forward too far. As you relax back down, slowly float the arms down into a relaxed position back on the ground, next to your torso. Repeat for each sit-up.
- Avoid doing sit-ups if you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis. Bending your spine in the sit-up position places increased stress on your bones and can put you at risk for a stress fracture.
- Keep in mind that the only way to build muscle is to push the muscle beyond its endurance limits. But if you do so many sit-ups to the point that you start to feel a stinging sensation on your abdominals, you have done too much. Your form will start to deteriorate and you won't be performing a proper sit-up.
- Do not commit the common mistakes of sit-ups:
- If you choose to get your hands out of the way by putting them behind your head, make sure you don't push your head forward while lifting your torso. There is a natural tendency to do this since it helps you lift up and the tendency will increase as your abs get tired. However, the push on your head will strain the muscles in the neck. If you deal with your arms in another way, still try to keep your head out of the exercise.
- Don't try to put your forehead on your knees. The higher you come off the ground the better, but only to a certain extent. If your back is starting to curl (namely, you could be considered as being in a humpback position if you were standing), you will be placing too much strain on your lower back.
- If you can't keep your feet on the ground and haven't secured them properly, you will be spending extra effort to do so during the sit-up. Unfortunately, this effort will originate in the thighs, which isn't the target of a sit-up. In some people the thighs might give up before the abs, rendering the whole exercise completely useless.