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Ways to Effectively Use a Sit-Up Bench

author image Andrea Cespedes
Andrea Cespedes is a professionally trained chef who has focused studies in nutrition. With more than 20 years of experience in the fitness industry, she coaches cycling and running and teaches Pilates and yoga. She is an American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer, RYT-200 and has degrees from Princeton and Columbia University.
The decline crunch is more difficult than a standard crunch.
The decline crunch is more difficult than a standard crunch. Photo Credit Antonio_Diaz/iStock/Getty Images

The sit-up bench can be one of your best allies in a quest to define your stomach and get six-pack abs. Adjust the bench's incline to give your workouts variety, so you hit all the ab muscle fibers. It also allows you to add resistance effectively to build muscle.

Decline Crunch

The decline crunch activates the rectus abdominis, your front sheath of abs, more effectively than a standard crunch, according to a study sponsored by the American Council on Exercise in 2014.

Step 1

Set the sit-up bench to a 30-degree decline. Hook your feet under the foot pads and lie back with your head at bottom. Place your hands behind your head.

Step 2

Push the small of your back into the bench as you start to roll your head, neck and shoulders up off the pad. Avoid sitting all the way up, as this only puts more emphasis on the hip flexors, rather than the abs.

Step 3

Use control to return to the starting position. This completes one repetition.

Avoid crunching all the way up.
Avoid crunching all the way up. Photo Credit Antonio_Diaz/iStock/Getty Images

Read More: What Are the Benefits of Weighted Sit-Ups?

Decline Russian Twist

The Russian twist trains your obliques, which are the muscles responsible for rotation and side bending. Adding resistance from both a medicine ball and a decline increases the intensity of this move as compared to a floor-based version.

Step 1

Set the bench to a 30-degree angle and secure your feet.

Step 2

Hold a medicine ball with both hands in the center of your chest. Pull your abs in tightly to your spine as you lean back.

Step 3

Twist to the right, keeping the medicine ball centered at your torso. Return to center and twist left, then center, to complete one repetition. Move deliberately and with control.

Hip lifts

Although you don't have a specific "lower ab muscle," you do have a lower portion of your rectus abominis. The hip lift targets this lower region to fight a pooch.

Step 1

Set the bench so that it's parallel to the ground. Lie on it, facing up, and grasp the sides or handles at the top with your hands. Extend your legs up to the ceiling, feet flat.

Step 2

Engage your abdominal muscles and roll your buttocks and backs of the hips up off the bench. Aim to press the feet straight up.

Step 3

Pause for a moment at the top and release to complete one repetition.

For greater intensity, do hip lifts on a decline.
For greater intensity, do hip lifts on a decline. Photo Credit OSTILL/iStock/Getty Images

Decline Plank

The plank works your deep transverse abdominis. Advance from the standard version to a decline variation.

Step 1

Place your hands or forearms on the floor and your toes on the sit-up bench set parallel to the floor.

Step 2

Draw your belly in strongly as you breathe in and out to hold a rigid position from your shoulders to your ankles.

Step 3

Maintain the position for 20 seconds or longer to build stability.

Read More: How to Use an Ab Bench

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