Somehow I got away from doing the plain ‘ole sit up. Did you too?
It’s the planks, side planks, plank jacks and pikes that wooed me over the past few years. Time to get back to the basics with sit ups and push ups to shake things up.
Done correctly and sloooooowly, the sit up is a super effective way to activate and streghthen the abdominal muscles.
Here is advice on how to do them properly from the Godfather of Sports Medicine, Dr. Gabe Mirkin:*
Sit-ups the Right Way
Sit-ups can strengthen your belly muscles, but doing them incorrectly can hurt your back. Sit-ups should be done while you lie on your back with your knees bent enough for the soles of your feet to touch the floor.
Place both hands on your chest and slowly raise your head off the ground. Raise your shoulders about one foot and then lower them to the ground. Do this slowly ten times, rest a few seconds and then do two more sets of ten. After a week or two this exercise will feel easy, so add a light weight held behind your neck or on your chest. As you become stronger, you can use heavier weights.
There’s no need to do more than 30 sit-ups in one workout. To strengthen your belly muscles, you increase the resistance, not the number of repetitions. Keep your knees bent to protect your back.
If you do a sit-up with your legs straight, you place a great force on the iliopsoas muscles that increase the arch in your back, which can damage the ligaments and joints. If your belly muscles are weak, you are likely to arch your back excessively when you sit up and increase the chances of injury. If you are doing sit-ups to flatten your stomach, you need to raise your head only about one foot because going higher than that uses the quadriceps muscles in the front of your upper legs, not your belly muscles.
Give Dr. Mirkins advice a try! Join me for 3 sets of 10 every day?
*Psst. Dr. Mirkin kindly allows me to post his content as long as I give him credit. He has a fantastic email newsletter with the latest health and fitness studies from the medical world. As a VirtualAthlete, focused on health and prevention, you will enjoy his yummy content. Grab a free e-book of healthy recipes while there! Dr. Gabe Mirkin Website