With all the exercise options available today, simple sit-ups can seem outdated. But there’s a reason this classic exercise continually reappears in workouts — several reasons, actually!
Why should you do sit-ups?
Sit-ups help you build a strong core to ward off injury, help with your posture, and boost your athletic performance. Here are seven reasons to incorporate sit-ups into your daily workout routine:
1. Build Muscular Endurance
Sit-ups train your abdominal muscles to engage for extended periods of time, contract against resistance, and lift weight. It is primarily an exercise for muscular endurance.
Muscular endurance isn’t exactly the same as strength — it’s more about stability and support, less about power. Muscles that are associated with endurance activities are made up of slow-twitch fibers.
Compared to fast-twitch muscles, which provide explosive power, slow-twitch muscles contain higher levels of oxygen-binding proteins and have greater access to blood supply. Training your slow-twitch muscles will improve your stamina, allowing you to push your body for longer periods of time.
That said, it’s impossible to fully separate endurance from strength. Sit-ups require engagement from high-twitch muscles as well, but that just means a more comprehensive workout for you.
2. Improve Your Posture
Sit-ups strengthen your core, which will pay dividends in your day-to-day life. For instance, the core strength you develop from regular sit-ups will help you develop a healthy posture. Good posture requires that the muscles around your spine be balanced and strong to provide equal support to your body — this state is known as “neutral spine position.” Good posture isn’t just attractive; it’s necessary for good health.
The benefits of good posture are:
- Reduced lower back pain
- Fewer tension headaches
- Increased energy
- Better neck and shoulder health
- Lower risk of uneven wear on your joints
- Increased lung capacity
- Improved circulation and digestion
- Reduced jaw pain
- Better form during your workouts
Sit-ups help condition your muscles to provide better support and enable a healthier posture.
3. Reduce Your Risk of Injury and Pain
Your core is your body’s shield against injuries; strengthening your core increases support to the rest of your body and reduces your risk of getting hurt.
Strong and flexible trunk muscles have also been shown to improve recovery time. When compared to a historical control group, a group of firefighters that had undergone a core-training intervention showed a reduced tendency to injury by 42%. Lost time due to injuries decreased even further by 62%.
4. Exercise Multiple Areas of Your Body
Sit-ups are a fantastic choice for when you have limited time and need to be efficient with your workouts.
Unlike crunches, which isolate your core, sit-ups work out multiple muscles, including:
- Internal and external obliques
- Lower back
- Hip flexors
Hip flexors tend to be particularly weak in comparison to their antagonist muscles, the gluteus maximus. However, they play a key role in stabilizing the pelvis and spine and safeguarding your lower back — so it’s a great idea to strengthen them with some sit-ups.
5. Burn Calories
Because sit-ups target so many areas of your body, they burn calories at a much higher rate than comparable exercises do. The numbers vary according to age, sex, weight, and workout intensity.
If you want to know specifically how many calories your sit-ups burn, you can use an online fitness calculator.
6. Improve Athletic Performance
All athletes, from experts to beginners, can elevate their game by strengthening their core.
Many movements in sports employ a kinetic chain of muscles. A well-developed core transfers energy and power more efficiently up the chain while protecting the body from injury.
As an example, a baseball player throwing a ball starts with their feet. This initial energy travels through the core before being transferred to the arm and, finally, to the ball. A weak core will result in an unimpressive throw or even an injury, as it won’t provide the proper support needed for the motion.
Solid core strength results in better:
7. Modify the Sit-Up With Variations
Whether you need to build up to sit-ups or challenge yourself with more demanding exercises, you can find a large number of sit-up variations. Changing things up will also help prevent boredom and burnout.
One way to make sit-ups more challenging is to perform them on a balance cushion or stability ball. You might also supplement your body weight with free weights or a medicine ball. Also try using an ab bench to perform sit-ups on an incline.
Proper Warm Up and Form
Before doing your sit-ups, limber up your abs, waist, back, and hips. This will ease the pressure on your spinal muscles and lower back, which help your hip flexors pull as you sit up.
Take your body through a series of slow, dynamic stretches that engage your full range of movement:
- Torso twists: Stand with your feet slightly more than shoulder-width apart and raise your arms to waist height, elbows bent. Twist your trunk, looking slowly over one shoulder. Come back to center and then twist in the other direction.
- Side bends: With your feet slightly shoulder-width apart, raise your arms and place your hands behind your head. Face forward and bend to the side, bringing one elbow towards the waist. Straighten your body and then bend the other way.
- Toe touches: With your feet shoulder-width apart, raise your arms straight up over head. Sweep down, bending forward at the waist as you bring your arms down to touch your toes. Bend your knees slightly as you rise up.
As with any exercise, make sure you perform sit-ups with the proper form to maximize results and prevent injury.
How to do a sit-up:
- Lie on your back and have your knees bent pointing upward and your feet flat on the floor. Ideally, find something to keep your feet in place or ask a workout partner to hold your feet.
- Either cross your arms, putting each hand on the opposite shoulder, or put your hands behind your head with your elbows pointing to the walls instead of curled inward and tugging on your neck.
- Bend your hips and waist to raise your body and bring your chest toward your knees.
- Lower your body all the way back down to the ground.
Sit-ups are an excellent exercise to build your body’s endurance and stability. Be sure to add them to your daily workout routine to reap the benefits. Also check out the LiveFit Blog for more great exercise tips and workout ideas:
For more tips on building your home fitness room, we recommend these articles: 6 Tips for the Perfect Fitness Room, The $100 Home Fitness Room, Getting a Gym Quality Workout at Home, Lower the Bar: Fitness for Real Beginners, The Top Five Reasons You Should Have a Home Gym, Get Fit in the Gym, Lose Weight in the Kitchen, 5 Tips to Stop Treadmill Static, It's Not About Getting Skinny, Ab's Aren't Just for Show.
And, when you're ready to talk about buying home exercise machines and equipment, ask your G&G Fitness Equipment store about special financing options like no money down and 0% interest plans for the best fitness equipment on the market with affordable monthly payments.
If you’re ready to take the next steps in your fitness journey, contact the fitness experts at G&G Fitness Equipment today or stop into a G&G Fitness Equipment showroom and let us show you why we are the best home fitness equipment retailer in the northeast.