On today’s episode of Live Lean TV, I’m answering a viewer question on how to do sit ups correctly for beginners, as well as 4 common sit up mistakes.
Brad, I still can’t complete a full sit-up, where I can go all the way up. I can only make it halfway up. Any good suggestions for me?
If I understand the question correctly, it sounds like you can only complete a half sit up.
This would be very similar to an exercise called the crunch.
Although the crunch still targets your abdominals and core, completing a full sit up can be important to certain people.
This includes people completing fitness testing for the:
Before I share a few simple tips on how to correctly do a full sit up, let me first address why the sit up has been widely criticized.
Sit ups can be bad for you back and spine, when you complete them with bad form.
But that’s true for any exercise.
Typically the sit up can be bad for your spine when you pull on your neck to initiate the sit up, rather than contracting your abs to pull your ribs towards your pelvis.
The sit up can also be bad for your lower back depending on the positioning of your pelvis during the beginning and end of the range of motion.
One of the key coaching cues with the sit up is to start and finish the sit up with your pelvis maintaining a posterior tilt.
This means your lower back should be flat against the floor, during the beginning position of the sit up.
In other words, you should not have an arch or room to slide your hand between the floor and your lower back.
One of the main causes of back pain can be caused by completing a sit up with your pelvis in an anterior tilt position.
This can cause a strain on your spine.
It’s important to fully lengthen and shorten your abs during the sit up, without allowing them to relax.
As you lower your upper torso back towards the floor, you’re lengthening the abs, but once you feel the contraction is gone, you’ve gone too far.
This typically happens when you lay your head back on the ground in between reps.
Don’t do this.
Keep your head off the floor, so you don’t lose the contraction at the bottom of the sit up.
By keeping your head off the floor, it can also help keep your pelvis in the posterior position.
Before losing contraction at the bottom, rise back up for another rep.
Also, if you’re coming up too high, to the point where you no longer feel a contraction in your abs, stop and lower back down until you feel the contraction again.
Stay in that range of motion so you always have your core engaged.
Think about bringing your ribs towards your pelvis and staying in the range of motion where your stomach and abs are always contracted.
Remember, to sculpt your abs, think about the quality of the contraction.
The quality of the contraction is much more important than how many reps you can do, or how fast you can do them.
During the contraction, think about tightening and pulling your lower abs inward as you exhale.
It’s not an exhale where you loosen your abs and push them out.
This can give you the bloated abs look.
Remember to keep your lower abs contracted and pulled in, as if you were pulling your belly button towards your back.
Also think about sucking in your obliques towards your midline, as you exhale.
This coaching cue will help you pull in and contract your abs at the same time.
This is one of the best training tips to create a slim waist.
Now that you know what not to do, here are two beginner tips on how to complete a full sit up.
There are many items you can use anchor your feet flat to the floor, including a:
By anchoring your feet flat to the floor, it can help provide leverage to raise your upper body all the way to the top of the sit up.
Just remember to keep your pelvis in the posterior tilt position, by not lowering and resting your head back to the floor.
Although it’s important that the contraction in the abs is primary cause of the sit up, you can use your arms to create a little momentum.
You can do this by extending your arms forward as your sit up or simply bring your elbows in front of your body, rather than flared out to the sides.
This arm placement will help you complete a full sit up.
As you lower your body back towards the floor, focus on controlling the movement.
Remember, contraction, not speed when train abs.
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Brad Gouthro is the founder of Live Lean TV, a media company focused on helping men and women “Live Lean” 365 days a year. Brad’s programs and content have helped millions of people all over the world learn how to get in shape, and more importantly, sustain it for life.