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How to Sit Up

What is a sit up?

What is a squat

See all sit up variations

Introducing sit ups to your workouts is one way to help boost your core strength. It can also help improve your digestion, as the motion strengthens the abdominal muscles that allow the intestines to function correctly. This ab exercise can be performed with using nothing more than your own bodyweight which means you can do it anywhere, whether that in or out the gym.  

One of the many reasons sit ups are ever-popular is that they're easy to modify (e.g. doing them on an incline or while holding weights) so you can continue to challenge yourself as your core strength improves.

To perform the perfect sit up keep your feet, hips and knees aligned with knees bent and feet flat on the floor, and exhale on your way up and inhale as you return to the start position.

To get you started we've put together our favourite sit up exercises for you to try.

 

COMMONLY ASKED QUESTIONS ON SIT UPS

  • Performing sit ups regularly can help to improve core strength.......

  • Performing 100 sit ups a day can help to improve your core strength but this won't guarantee six pack abs if this is your goal.....

  • This will depend on what you are trying to achieve. It is core strength, core stability, six pack abs? .....

  • Common mistakes when performing sit ups is using too much momentum, which means you aren't isolating the exercise to your abs.....

Sit Up tips

  • To get the most from each sit up perform the exercise slowly or in a controlled manner. This ensures your muscles are working hard and lets you concentrate on your form, which decreases the likelihood of injury.
  • Don't use your arms to pull up your head as it takes pressure off your core muscles giving them less of a workout and can put additional strain on your neck. 
  • If you're new to sit-ups, ensure you leave at least one day's rest between ab workouts to give your core time to recover.

 

Sit up variations

How to do Sit ups

Level: Beginners

Equipment: no equipment required

  1.  Lie on the floor facing the ceiling with a slight bend in your knees and arms bent at the elbows and hands lightly touching your head by the ears.

  2. Engage your core and lift your upper body so your right elbow touches your left knee.

  3. Return to the start position then lift your upper body so your left elbow touches your right knee.

  4. Return to the start position.

How to do Pulse sit ups

Level: Beginners

No equipment required.

  1. Lie on the floor facing the ceiling with a slight bend in your knees and arms bent at the elbows and hands lightly touching your head by the ears.
  2. Engage your core and lift your upper body towards your knees.
  3. Rather than returning to the start position, lean back slightly then forward again in a quick pulse fashion.

How to do a V sit up

Level: Intermediate

Equipment required: you can perform this exercise without any equipment or you can make it more challenging my using a pair of dumbbells, a barbell or weighted plate.

  1. Lie flat on the floor facing the ceiling. Extend your arms overhead, hands touching the floor.
  2. Squeeze your abs and lift your shoulders and legs off the floor at the same time. Try to reach your hands to your feet.
  3. Slowly return back to starting position.

If you'd like to make this ab exercise more challenging, hold a weighted dumbbell or weighted plate with both hands as you do the movement.

how to do an Ab crunch

Targets: rectus abdominis

Level: Beginners

Equipment required: mat

This exercise is also commonly known as the sit up.

  1. Lie on your back on a mat with knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  2. Cross your arms in front of your chest.
  3. Crunch your ab muscles to lift your shoulders off the mat.
  4. Hold for a second, then slowly come back down to starting position.

How to do Bicycle crunches

Targets: oblique muscles and core

Level: Beginners

Equipment required: mat

  1. Lie on a mat with your lower back pressed into the mat.
  2. Lift your knees up to form a 90-degree angle at your hip and knee.
  3. Put your hands behind your head, then crunch and bring your right elbow towards your left knee while extending your right leg.
  4. Switch sides by bringing in your left elbow towards your right knee while extending your left leg.

 

How to do a Russian twist

Targets: oblique muscles and core. Great rotational training for sports.

Level: Intermediate

Equipment required: mat and weighted plate (5kgs used in video).

  1. Grab a mat and a weighted plate.
  2. Sit on the mat with knees bent and feet flat on the mat.
  3. Holding the plate with both hands, lean slightly back whilst engaging your abs. Make sure to keep your back straight. Lift your feet off the mat.
  4. Rotate your arms all the way to one side, tapping the weighted plate on the floor, then do the same with the other direction.

How to do butterfly sit ups

Targets: Core

Level: Beginner

Equipment required: mat

  1. Lie face up on the mat, with your arms extended past your head. Bend your knees and have the soles of your feet facing one another so it’s in a diamond shape.
  2. Crunch your abs to a sitting position as you reach forward with both hands to your feet.
  3. Slowly lower back to starting position.

How to do reverse crunches

Targets: lower abs

Level: Intermediate

Equipment required: mat

  1. Lie your back with knees bent and feet flat on the mat. Place your arms by your sides.
  2. Pull in your knees towards your chest and perform a traditional crunch to lift your shoulders and feet off the floor, keeping your knees bent at a 90-degree angle. Pause for a second.
  3. Slowly lower your hips and shoulders back down to starting position.

How to do a cable crunch

Targets: core

Level: Advanced

Equipment needed: cable machine and rope handle

  1. Attach a rope handle to the cable machine and set the resistance to a level appropriate for you using the pin.
  2. Facing the cable, kneel on both knees. Lean forward to grab the handle with both hands, keeping your elbows bent and upper arms locked by the sides of your face. Keep them locked
  3. From this position then crunch your abs with control. Your back will naturally round which is okay for this movement.
  4. Pause for a second, then slowly return to starting position.

HOW TO DO A SIDE CRUNCH

Targets: obliques

Level: Intermediate

Equipment needed: mat

  1. Lie flat on your back on a mat with knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  2. Turn your legs to right side and stack one leg over the other. Place your right arm behind your head and place the other arm out in front of you.
  3. Crunch to the side so that your right arm moves towards your right knee.

How to do toe touches

Targets: the core

Level: Intermediate

Equipment: mat

  1. Lie with your back on mat. Raise your feet up so your back and feet are at a 90-degree angle. Extend your arms out towards your shins.
  2. Crunch your abs and reach up to touch your toes then return to starting position.

HOW TO DO WEIGHTED SIT UPS

Targets: the core and shoulders

Level: Intermediate

Equipment required: mat and a weighted plate (5kgs used in video)

  1. Lie on your back on a mat with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Hold a plate in front of you with both hands.
  2. Crunch your ab muscles to lift your shoulders off the mat.
  3. Hold for a second, then slowly come back down to starting position.

   

If you’re not sure if any of the above exercises are suitable for you, please consult your doctor before you start it. Need guidance on how to perform the exercise? Ask a personal trainer at your gym.