what is a sit up?

Good-form sit up with trainer

According to Wikipedia, a traditional sit-up is "a strength training exercise commonly performed with the aim of strengthening the abdominal muscles and hip flexors.

The exercise begins with lying with the back on the floor, typically with the knees bent in an attempt to reduce stress on the back muscles and spine, and then elevating both the upper and lower spine from the floor until everything superior to the buttocks is not touching the ground."

Please note, due to the potential risk of spinal damage involved with performing traditional sit-ups, the two hundred sit- ups program will utilize the more common crunch or curl up exercise.

Throughout this site, wherever you read the words "sit-up(s)", please think in terms of crunches or curl ups, not the out-of-favour mass taught exercise. Furthermore, the two hundred sit-ups logo is not meant to be a good indicator of how the exercise should be performed. Please read on for more information.

Instructions for "good-form" sit-ups

Good-form sit-up

Proper starting form is lying face up on the floor with knees bent and feet flat. Feel free to tuck your feet under a fixed object if you feel the need, but only if you don't suffer from lower back pain.

The movement begins by curling the shoulders towards the pelvis, with hands gently placed behind or below the ears. Try to keep your eyes on the ceiling even when you curl forward.

Avoid placing the hands behind the head itself as using them to exert force on the neck can cause injury. Good practice is for the hands to lightly support the weight of the head, so that the neck flexor muscles can relax during the movement. Do not jerk the head forward with your hands.

Good-form sit-up

Slowly contract your abdominals and come up to an angle of no more than 35 degrees - there's no need to go further than this - and exhale as you crunch forward.

It's important to focus on working the abdominal muscles and not the hips and also to keep your chin off your chest. The lower back should not leave the floor which will make the curl up an effective isolation exercise for the abdominals.

Once you've reached the 35 degree position, hold for one or two seconds before gently lowering yourself to the floor. Inhale on the way down and repeat. Focus on natural, rhythmic breathing as you continue to perform the exercise.

Remember, the main aim of the two hundred sit-ups program is to improve your core strength, fitness and general health. The program is all about making progress and constantly challenging yourself. Give the 6-week program a chance and I know you'll be amazed how strong your core is. Good luck!

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