Sit-ups are one of the oldest and most used abdominal workouts out there for several reasons, including the facts that they can be done without any expensive gym equipment and that they target the abs directly. As with any type of resistance exercises, adding weight offers the advantage of increased strength, muscle tone and muscle size. Weighted sit-ups are an effective abdominal workout when proper form is used, but you must know what you’re doing before attempting these sit-ups.
There are three main types of weighted sit-ups you can try, each offering a slightly different angle for targeting the abdominal muscles. The most basic weighted sit-up, according to ExRx.net, is to lie in the basic sit-up position with your feet supported beneath a stabilizing object and to hold a weighted barbell plate behind your neck. You can also do weighted sit-ups on an incline or decline bench for an effective variation.
You can use weighted plates, medicine balls, bars or resistance bands to supply the resistance when performing weighted sit-ups. When using resistance bands, the band must be tied to something stable behind you, and you can hold the ends of the band with your hands behind your head. Beginners should start with very light weight, such as a 1 to 2 lb. weighted plate or small dumbbell. As the exercise becomes easier over a period of weeks, increase the weight slightly to maintain gains.
It’s not necessary to exercise your abs every day; one good workout per week is all that’s necessary. This includes doing weighted sit-ups in addition to at least one other abdominal exercise, such as leg lifts, bicycle maneuvers or exercise ball crunches. In general, three sets of 10 to 12 repetitions on decline weighted sit-ups are suitable; the same can be said for flat or inclined weight sit-ups as well.
You are at risk of injury when performing weighted sit-ups. Using too much weight is one of the easiest ways to injure your neck or back. If you notice that you’re stressing your neck excessively during the exercise, you are probably using too much weight. Good technique is far more important than how much weight you can hold. Try to keep your head and back in a straight line throughout the entire movement. This will force your abdominal muscles to work rather than your back and neck.