Exercises to Improve Doing Sit-Ups

Young happy fitness couple doing sit ups on white beach
A man is doing sit ups. (Image: travnikovstudio/iStock/Getty Images)

Strengthening your abdominal muscles can help you to improve your situp technique and the amount of situps you are able to complete. You can strengthen these muscles through exercises that either focus on your stomach or include this area such as core stability work.

Abdominal Curl

The abdominal curl is a piece of resistance equipment in the gym which could help you to improve your situps. The machine focuses on your abdominal muscles and follows the same concept as a regular situp. To perform the exercise, sit on the seat and ensure that your feet are secure behind the footpads. Take hold of the hand grips, curl your body forward toward your knees and then return to your starting position. Repeat this action for three sets of 12 or 15 repetitions. Focus on the movement coming from your stomach muscles rather than building up the momentum as you complete your set.

Plank

The plank can help strengthen the muscles you use to do situps. It targets your back and abdominals but also includes the trapezius, rhomboids, rotator cuffs, deltoids, pectorals, serratus anterior, gluteus maximus, quadriceps and calves. To complete the exercise, lie flat on your stomach, place your elbows directly under your shoulders with your forearms on the floor and curl your toes under. Contract your core muscles and raise your body from the ground so that only your toes, elbows, forearms and hands remain in contact with the floor. Hold this raised position for up to a minute and return to the floor. Ensure that your torso remains straight as you hold the pose and your stomach does not sag.

Balances

Balancing on one leg encourages your abdominal muscles to engage. You will also use your gluteals, quadriceps, hamstrings, adductors, soleus, calf, tibialis anterior and obliques. To strengthen your core muscles, stand with your feet together and ensure that your shoulders are down and back, your spine is straight and your weight is spread evenly. When you are ready, bend one knee and lift the foot a few inches from the floor. Use your stomach muscles to stabilize your body and avoid the temptation to tilt to one side. Hold this for 15 second and repeat the exercise on the other side. To make this exercise harder, lift your foot higher, close your eyes or hold your arms above your head as you balance.

Cobra

The cobra can help to stretch and open out your stomach muscles and counteract the curling forward action of situp exercises. Lie on your front with your hands pointing forward beneath your shoulders. As you exhale, straighten your elbows and arch your back to lift your upper body from the mat. Keep breathing and push down into your hips and hands to help your stability. Ensure that your elbows remain soft and you do not hyperextend your back at any point. Hold this position for 15 or 30 seconds before relaxing back down to the mat.

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