Sit ups are the tried and true method to help achieve solid abdominals. You don’t need to buy yourself any fancy contraption that will set you back a hefty wad of cash and assembly aggravation. All you need are sit ups. However, if you expect the right kinds of results, you need to be doing sit ups the correct way. If you go about this particular exercise the wrong way, you won’t be working the right muscles and you could potentially hurt yourself.
The first thing to remember when doing sit ups is not to go overboard. We all want to see really good results as quickly as possible, but you’ve got to take things one step at a time. Doing ten sit ups slowly and correctly is vastly more fruitful than trying to do 100 in a sloppy manner. In general, you want to shy away from high volume and fast times. Here’s why.
In school during fitness testing, they go about many of the fitness tests all wrong. For the abdominal test, you need to do as many crunches as you can in a set amount of time, usually a minute. I don’t see how this accomplishes anything other than setting the child’s back up for a beating. If you focus on the speed of your sit ups, you’re using less of the desired muscles and more of auxiliary muscles. These other muscles include the hip flexors (the muscles that draw the thigh upward) and the muscles of the lower back. Furthermore, if you are using all of these muscles at a high rate of speed with sloppy technique, then the chances of aggravating a muscle increase. Trust me; you do not want to end up with lower back problems.
There are other, more effective ways to work out the auxiliary muscles we just mentioned. Plus, the purpose of situps is to work out the abdominals, and only the abdominals. So what’s the proper way to do a sit up?
Find yourself a couch if at all possible if you don’t have a weight bench. Put your feet up on the couch or bench so that the angle formed with your lower leg and upper leg measures between 90 and 135 degrees. In practical terms, you want your thighs to be either completely vertical or steeply sloped toward you. The right positioning will depend on your height and comfort zone; just find what works best for you. Also make sure that you’re on a semi-soft surface like a workout mat or a carpet. Sit ups can cause your tailbone to grind into the floor, so you’re going to want at least some padding between you and the ground.
Next, cross your arms on your chest, holding onto your shoulders for support. You don’t want to be doing your sit ups with your hands clutching the back of your head. This can put strain on the neck, which is something you can do without.
Now, while you’re doing your sit ups, don’t worry so much about getting your entire upper body off the ground. Instead, concentrate on curling your shoulders and upper torso toward your knees. Do this slowly and smoothly, making sure that your movements are under control. When you reach as far as you can go before hitting your head into your knees, give your abdominals a little squeeze and slowly return to the starting position.
Start out small. Try doing ten sit ups completely under control, then give yourself a break. If you feel you can continue, then try one more set of ten. Like other forms of physical training, you want to do sit ups in sets of manageable numbers of reps. This will give your body a chance to recover and will make sure you’re doing the sit ups the right way, smooth and under control. One day do ten reps per set. The next day try eleven. Slowly build into a routine and make sure you’re going through a nice smooth, full range of motion.
That’s about it, not much to it. You’ll be building stronger abdominals in no time as long as you do sit ups the safe and correct way. Good Luck!