- Exercise & Fitness
10 Steps to Perfect Sit-Ups
The Simplicity of Sit-Ups!
Abdominal exercises are an important important of any home fitness routine. If you spend any time watching late night TV, you have no doubt seen countless infomercials that advertise their ability to shrink your belly and give you a ripped six-pack.
For our purposes, all of these abdominal gadgets are just another distraction. Most of these gadgets are junk and will just add more clutter to your life. One of the great things about a simple home fitness routine is that it should simplify your life - not make it more complicated.
For the abdominal section of our home fitness plan, we are going to concentrate on yet another old standby - THE SIT-UP! Sit-ups can give you all the advantage of those gadgets, but sit-ups are FREE.
How To Execute Perfect Sit-Ups
There is a lot of confusion out there about the proper way to execute Sit-UPs. Let's break down an excellent Sit-Up
- Find a padded surface. If you're on hardwood floors then use a yoga mat or a towel.
- Lie on your back. Bend your knees to a 90 degree angle while keeping your feet flat on the floor. Don't use anything to anchor your feet because that will cause your leg and hip flexors to take some of the work away from your abs.
- Position your hands. If you're a beginner, rest your hands at your sides. As you get better at Sit-Ups, gradually move your hands closer to your head. An intermediate step would be to cross them across your chest. Once you have built up some core strength, cross your arms behind your head. IMPORTANT: Don't interlace your fingers behind your head or pull on your head while executing the Sit-Ups. This can cause strain on the neck and will also reduce the amount of work on the abdominals.
- Go Slow. You aren't Rocky Balboa. You don't need to rip out these exercises like you are getting ready for a championship fight. Instead, imagine that you are in slow motion and execute the Sit-Ups slooowwwwlllly.
- Exhale as you pull yourself upwards towards your knees. This causes your muscles to suck inward and will cause your deeper core muscles to do some work. Inhaling while executing a sit-up can cause your abdomen to protrude - which not only makes the exercise less effective - but can also cause strain on your lower back.
- Stop and Squeeze! When you have raised your upper torso about 6-12 inches from the floor, hold your position and tense your abs. Momentarily hold this position.
- Lower yourself back down, but only so that you are very lightly touching the floor with your head and upper back. Don't let yourself back into a resting position - instead keep your abdominal muscles taut and move right back into the next movement.
- Visualize. Imagine the inside of your body as a machine with cables that are pulling your shoulders and head off the floor. Stay conscious of your abdominals throughout the entire exercise. Always be visualizing your abdominal muscles and making sure they are doing all the work.
- Be Realistic. Know Your Limits. If you haven't exercised in a long time, Sit-ups may be tougher than you remembered. If these are too tough, consider trying half-Sit-Ups. Start in a sitting position and only perform the curl-down portion of the Sit-Up. Lower yourself slowly to the floor, keeping your abs tight, then use your arms to get back into a sitting position. Repeat.
- Start Small. An effective home fitness plan starts small and gradually builds up. You don't want to get so discouraged the first day that you just give up. Start with 5 sit-ups or half-sit-ups and execute them perfectly. Make sure you do the mental visualization as well as the physical exercise. Add 1 Sit-Up or Half-Sit-Up every day until you can reach 15. Then start incrementally adding more sets until you have reached three sets of 15. When you can knock those out, move to a more difficult hand position.
The Horrible Truth About Sit-Ups
You can do hundreds of perfect Sit-Ups every day and it is not going to get rid of your beer belly. During any exercise, muscles will not necessarily use fat from the immediate area surrounding them. To get rid of body fat, you have to burn a ton of calories and sadly... Sit-Ups alone aren't going to get it done.
If you just want to lose weight, you'd be better off taking up running. You're still going to have to run a lot, though. That being said, Sit-Ups are excellent for building core muscle strength. I would also consider them to be an essential component of any home fitness routine.
Military-Style Sit-Up Video
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