Give-up the sit-up
For decades the sit-up exercise has been the main-stay of our abdominal training routines. It’s easy, can be done anywhere and in theory it gives our abs a good workout.
The reason why the sit-up was thought to give the ultimate abs workout is because it does the basic movement of the rectus abdominus (six-pack muscle). That being spinal flexion. The problem is that when most people do a sit-up they do more hip flexion than spinal flexion. You’ll know the people I’m talking about as they’re the ones that jolt up from the ground, don’t flex the spine and generate all the power by pivoting at the hips.
The other fundamental flaw in the sit-up is the cheating that it encourages. Cheats include
• Bouncing or rocking off the ground
• Flinging the hands and arms forward to initiate and assist the movement
• Sitting all the way upright (the abs do no work once you’re sitting all the way up)
• Hooking your feet under something which allows your hip flexors to become the prime muscle
• Hooking your hands behind your head and pulling yourself up by the head and neck
Another obvious error in the sit-up logic is that it encourages spinal flexion by lifting the lighter end of the body. Wouldn’t experienced and strong trainers be far better off flexing the spine by lifting the heavier load of the lower body? More on that in a sec.
So, for a number of reasons this movement does very little to engage the abs and offers only the false hope of any tone and shape in the abs.
So, what to do? If you have to do spinal flexion exercisers because of your upcoming summer spent frequenting the beaches you may as well do the best kind. Here’s how.
Start by lying on your back with your feet flat on the floor, your knees at ninety degrees, your palms on the floor beside you, and your head and shoulders lifted up off the ground. Now, crunch your lower body off the ground by curling your pelvis back toward your head. Your knees will end up somewhere near your chin. Trainer Tip: be careful not use momentum. Instead use your abdominal strength to perform the movement.
This is one of those ‘no pain, no gain exercises’. If your abs down burn so much they may soon combust your not doing them right. Iron all the ways you might be cheating and feel the burn!