Doing sit-ups is an extremely effective way to strengthen you core muscles. These muscles help you to maintain a good posture and they allow you to twist and bend. Chronic back pain and disability can occur when these core muscles are weak. However, doing sit-ups alone will not give you that flat stomach and six pack abs. The abdominal muscles that you are toning will develop beneath the layer of abdominal fat and no matter how many sit-ups you do it will not reduce the amount of fat around your waist.
The only way to reduce that strip of fat around your abdominal muscles is to maintain a healthy diet and keep to a sufficient exercise regime. After you have slimmed down the six pack abs will start to show and can be maintained by doing sit-ups everyday. However, it is important to ensure that you are doing your sit-ups correctly. Incorrect form when doing sit-ups can lead to back and neck pain, it also prevents the core muscles from being fully engaged in the exercise.
Following are 5 tips to better sit-ups.
- Make sure your legs are bent at a 90° angle – This is the best angle to help reduce excess stress to the lower back while you are performing a sit-up. You should be sure to do your sit-ups on a cushioned surface such as a mat or carpet. There should still be just enough of a curve in your lower back so it does not touch the floor.
- Cross your arms over your chest – The traditional hands behind the neck posture for sit-ups sometimes causes people to pull on the neck during the upward movement, which can overstretch it and cause neck pain. Instead, cross your arms over your chest and tighten your abdominal muscles to slowly lift your head and upper body off the floor.
- Lift up only 6 to 10 inches off the floor – There is no need to sit all the way up when doing sit-ups. In fact, according to researchers at the University of Louisville, once you are above a certain angle, different muscles than the abdominals are being worked, so much of that extra effort to condition your abs is in vain.
- Go slowly, both up and down – The best workout for your abs is to go slowly, both on the way up and on the way down. This engages the abdominal muscles more fully and is more important than the number of reps you can do.
- Pace yourself – It is common to start off doing sit-ups quickly, then slow down as your abdominals tire. Start out at a slow, steady pace, and you are more likely to be able to keep it up than if you get burned out early on in your reps.
Keep At It!
If you practice your sit-ups with the correct technique and include it into your exercise regime and healthy diet, then you will see the results. Only hard work and discipline can bring you the results you want. Persevere with your diet and exercise and soon you will have your six pack abs!
For Your Health,
Dr. Joseph Gambardella, Dr. Todd Brown and Dr. Benjamin Erb