Sit-Up Form Guide

The Sit-Up has been a popular core strength training exercise for decades. While some have argued that it can be dangerous for your lower back and that the Plank is a much better core-builder, I believe that the sit-up is an extremely functional and useful drill for engaging your abdominals. When I say “functional” I’m referring to the fact that sitting up is the first thing you do in the morning and the last thing you do at night. It’s even a measure for the development of your newborn’s neck, upper body, and back muscles in the first 6 months of their life!

The key to turning this “controversial” exercise into something a little more useful is to get rid of the anchor (the weight that some people put on their feet) and to try to maintain a neutral spinal position throughout the exercise. Use the following tips to ensure that your next sit-up engages the core as much as possible.

Don’t Use an Anchor
When you perform your squats, don’t anchor your feet with a weight. This will force you to engage your abdominal muscles rather than relying on your hip flexors in order to raise your body.

Keep Your Chest Proud
Most people have a tendency to sink their chests in while they perform sit-ups. Instead, try to keep your chest “proud” by keeping your shoulders back as much as possible.

Hands Behind Your Ears
Resist the temptation to clasp your hands behind your neck and instead place your fingers lightly behind your ears. This will ensure that you won’t put pressure on your neck as you perform reps.

Sit Up Straight
At the top of each rep, reset your position by sitting up as straight as possible. If you did have some spinal flexion occur during the motion, this will help you realize the proper position for the next rep.

Keep A Neutral Spine
As you get started with the sit-up with no anchor, this will be extremely difficult. While it’s not ideal, you can flex your back a little, but try to fight the urge by keeping your back as straight as possible.

Engage Your Abdominals
This goes without saying, but make sure you do it! The best way to do that is by controlling the movement (both going up and down) in a slow and methodical fashion. Don’t throw your body up and down as fast as possible.

Use these tips and get the most out of each rep. Make sure to count your reps using your Atlas Wristband.

Yours in Health,
Peter Li