Sit-Up Workout to Build Strong Abdominal Muscles

sit ups exercise

A sit-up workout is a great way to shape your abs and improve your core strength. I know there’s so much debate about it. It’s not hard to find articles in which it’s said we should avoid sit-ups because of being ineffective and harmful. Then, why in the military, there is a fitness test for it, and why the top fighters still do them? Simply because it works and the sign of strength and endurance.

This exercise works if you do it properly. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do other types of ab exercises since versatility is the key to development.

Within this guide, you’ll learn how to do it the right way, why it works, and workout tips for both beginners and advanced athletes.

Do sit-ups work?

The sit-up is a compound move that engages all the muscles of the midsection. That means your abs, obliques, hip flexors, and lower back. So, it gives a complete core training. Also, during the action, these muscles cooperate, which is more natural as if we do an isolated exercise.

Other sit-up benefits:

  • It increases muscle mass, leading to power and six-pack (if you have a low body fat level).
  • Since it develops core health, it has a positive effect on athletic performance.
  • If it’s done correctly, it strengthens the back muscles, so it lowers the risk of injury and back pain.
  • It improves the posture and balance of the body.
  • It makes your neck muscles stronger.

The proper way to do sit-ups

I think the reason why healthy people feel pain while doing sit-ups is the weak form or the lack of core strength.

Most people badly do sit-ups. They pull their head with their hands, cheating by using the momentum and don’t control the action. They just want to get off the ground, no matter what. They forget it’s an abdominal exercise so that they must use the power of their abs instead of anything else.

The following video is my favorite tutorial.

 

What does he do? He plants his feet and buttocks on the floor. During the entire movement, he keeps his back and shoulders straight, his knees bent, and uses only the power of his abs. He performs the exercise with a controlled and slow technique. He puts his hands on the sides of his head (ears) to avoid pulling. That is what you should do.

If you can’t keep that form, that means your core isn’t strong enough yet. So you should go back to easier exercises such as crunch or leg lifts on the floor to gain power.

Note: The ab mat is useful sit up equipment to put less stress on the lower back and spine. It also helps execute the movement more precisely. By placing the bulging mat under you, it pushes your hip up. This way, the lower back, and hip flexors are less engaged during the exercise. Also, we get a complete range of motion, which leads to better muscle stimulation.

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Sit-Up Workout for Beginners

How to do more sit-ups

If you want to reach higher repetition, performing more reps at each session isn’t the best route. It’s much more effective to perform other types of ab training. It’s not good if the muscles always get the same impact. After a while, they get used to it and stop growing.

Here are some exercises to improve sit-ups:

You may also try a sit-up challenge or download workouts app. They help to be motivated and follow a plan since they force you to do more step by step. You need to do just a little bit more at each session, but in the end, it brings significant results.

Sit-up variations

To create a useful regime, we should include more than one exercise in the plan to target each part of the abdomen. So, let’s learn some variations to target your abs from various angles.

 

  • The first move is the traditional sit up with the help of the ab mat. It targets your rectus abdominis (six-pack muscles).
  • The second is an alternating move to the sides. Hence, besides your lower abs, obliques (side abs) are activated.
  • The third one is a compound move with torso rotation and punches at the end.

Sample circuit workout for beginners

Do 2-3 rounds with 1-minute rest between:

  • Regular sit-up with or without an ab mat: 15 reps.
  • Alternating exercise: 10 reps on each side.
  • Sit-up and punch: 10 reps for each side.

Do this circuit 3 times a week to have time for recovery. Increase the sets and repetitions regularly.

Tips for people at high fitness levels

If you have been working out for some time, and your abs stopped growing, there are two methods to go on.

You can switch to a sit-up workout with weights. Place a weight plate or a dumbbell on your chest to add additional resistance to the exercises. Don’t overdo it. You should use such a load that allows you to perform the movement correctly.

Another idea is to use the decline sit up bench. By altering the angle of the board, you can increase the resistance from time to time to give a new impact on the abdominals.

FAQ

Do sit-ups for abs help you lose belly fat?

To lose stomach fat, you should lower your body fat level, which is possible by following a healthy diet and doing cardio. This way, your body burns the stored calories (fat) leading to weight loss. And, your abdominal muscles get visible. Sit-ups are strength training exercises that don’t burn many calories.

Will 100 sit-ups a day get you abs?

If you already have a lean stomach, you will see results for sure. But I don’t recommend it. Firstly, a one-sided plan is never good. It’s boring, and the fibers get used to it. Moreover, multiple exercises are required to target each part of the core.

Sit-ups vs. crunches vs. planks – What’s the difference?

Firstly, I wouldn’t tell you which the best is because all of them are effective and worth to do. So, include each in your ab workouts.

  • Sit-ups provide the most extended range of motion and engage many muscles at once. So, they are efficient to build core strength. But they are more challenging to perform correctly and put stress on the lower back.
  • Crunch is a much shorter and isolated move. Hence, they are easier to perform but don’t activate all the core muscles.
  • Plank is a static exercise and quite easy to learn. Plus, it activates the entire core.

Conclusion

I hope after reading this guide, you can create your custom sit-up routine. My aim with this article also was to highlight the benefits of this classic exercise. If it’s done correctly, it will help you to build strong abs for sure.

References
1. Bianco A, Lupo C, Alesi M, et al. The sit up test to exhaustion as a test for muscular endurance evaluationSpringerPlus. 2015;4(1). doi:10.1186/s40064-015-1023-6
2. Cronkleton E. 9 Benefits of Sit-Ups and How to Do Them. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/sit-ups-benefits. Published May 23, 2019.

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James (36) has been working out since he was 15 years old. He has a home gym where he pumps iron, does bodyweight workouts and boxing. He likes sharing his experiences with others who want to build a better physique.