What is Proper Sit up Form?

Thursday, June 21, 2012 11:08
Posted in category Fitness

My 11-year-old son’s gym teacher insists that he perform the old-fashioned sit-ups: hands behind the head and legs straight. I read that these are now contraindicated. My son was sent to the principal because he refused to do them that way. Can you help me out with some information?


You are correct. There have been modifications to the way abdominal exercises were performed years ago. Research has shown that there are safer and more effective ways to train the abdominal muscles. First, performing sit-ups with your legs fully extended can place a lot of stress on your lower back. Second, when your abdominal muscles contract, they bring your trunk off the ground only 30 to 40 degrees anyway. Lifting any further does not work that muscle group.

The best and safest abdominal exercise is the simple abdominal curl. This exercise consists of lifting your shoulder blades off the ground with your hands lightly placed behind your head for the support of your head and neck.

Keep your knees bent and your back flat on the floor. By bending your knees and “crunching” up and down you are concentrating on your abdominal muscles only.

Always make sure that your back is flat on the floor and that you are breathing out on the way up and in on the way down. In my opinion, there is no rationale for your son’s gym teacher to prescribe the kind of exercise s/he did.

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