How to Use Sit Up Bench Correctly

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using sit up bench properly

The good old adjustable sit up bench is still one of the most beneficial exercise equipment to make your abdominal muscles strong. Compared to the traditional sit ups on the floor or crunches it is more efficient since it provides a wider range of motion.

Also, these workout benches are adjustable so you can increase or decrease the resistance. And finally, it works not only your rectus abdominis (six pack muscles) but also your obliques and hip flexors.

However, I know a lot of people at the gym who do not like using the ab bench as they feel pain in their lower back or neck. Unless they do not have some physical problems that pain usually comes from the bad performance of the exercise. For example, they bend their back or try to sit up by pulling their neck instead of using their core muscles.

If you are among them, this tutorial is for you.

Follow the steps below to learn the proper performance.

How to do decline sit ups

1. Warm-Up & Stretch

Typically, people use the incline bench at the end of the workout when they are warmed up. If not, always spend a few minutes with warming up your entire body and made a few stretches. Mainly pay attention to your lower back (make trunk rotations).

2. Set the angle of the board

The next step is to set the sit up bench to the incline level you want to use. The higher the level, the more difficult the exercise will be. So, if your fitness level is lower, a 30-45 degree will do.

3. Sitting on the ab workout bench

Place your feet between the rollers that support your feet and bend your knees in a 90-degree position. Lie back and put your fingers behind your head. If you are a newbie, you can place your arms on your chest to make the movement easier.

4. Lift your upper body

Now lift your torso by focusing on your abs and keep your back straight. Do not use the momentum or pull your neck with your hands. Only the abs muscles work. Exhale when you go up and reach a point when your elbows touch the outer side of your knees. Keep that position for 2-3 seconds.

5. Lowering your body back

Going back to the starting position is as important. Lower your body slowly backward by using your abs muscles and with straight back. During the motion inhale.

If you do your sit-ups this way you will not feel the pain in your back, spine or neck, and it strengthens your core muscles supremely.

Anyway, here is a video tutorial to check the steps.


Other exercise tips

  • You can make your sit-ups on the decline bench even more challenging by increasing the level of the board or using hand weights placing on your upper body. But, always keep the correct form! I recommend not using weight until you can make about 25 sit-ups properly at once.
  • If you want to focus more on your obliques, you can twist your upper body towards the opposite knee as if you were doing Russian twist.
  • If you find hard to perform the abdominal exercises in incline position too hard, you can use a flat bench first until your stomach gets strong enough.

Did you know that you can use the bench for several other ab exercises? Learn sit up bench exercises.

What should you avoid?

  • Cheating with arms: I saw people cheating by swinging their arms forward. To avoid the temptation to cheat, place your hands behind your head, or cross them on your chest.
  • Using the momentum: Perform the exercise slowly in a controlled way focusing on your abs.
  • Pulling your head forward: If you place your hands on your nape, do not pull your head forward with the power of your hands.
  • Curving your back too much: A bit of bending is OK. Try to keep your back as straight as possible.
  • The short range of motion: Lower backward as much as possible. But, do not lie on the backrest.

How to fix poor form?

If you follow the guide above, but you can’t perform the exercise correctly, here are two things you can do.

One reason is that your core is yet too weak. It is terrible to hear, but that can be the reason.

What is the solution?

Go back to the beginner exercises you can do on the floor — for instance, crunches, leg lifts, planks, etc. You need to build up your ab strength. Once you can do rather high reps, about 15-20, you can try the decline sit up once more.

Believe it or not, another reason might be the weakness of your lower back.

I see people sitting up with an exaggeratedly curved back, mainly because their back is weak to keep the straight form.

To cure this problem, you should do hyperextension exercise, on the floor, or with a Roman chair. Back extension strengthens the lower back and also the muscle next to the spine. Learn more about the back extension exercise here.

What are the benefits of decline bench sit ups?

If you do it correctly, you can enjoy the following advantages:

  • Shape the abdomen, mainly the rectus abdominis.
  • Strengthen the hip flexor.
  • Help maintain a healthy posture.
  • Strengthen your entire core.
  • Help to burn a bit of stomach fat.
  • Prevent back pain

Alternative Equipment

The CAP Barbell Doorway Situp Bar, Black  is a compact equipment that you can place under the door and attach to it. By using the rollers, you can fix your feet so that you can focus on the abs. It merely makes the traditional sit up exercise on the floor more effective. By the way, the execution of the move is the same as if you were using a decline bench.

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Last update on 2020-07-06 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


James Wright

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.

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