3 Types Of Sit Up Exercises And Their Benefits June 23, 2016

Let’s face it – we girls no longer want just a flat tummy. Now when we stand in front of the mirror, we desire for and demand killer abs, right?

Sit-ups, also called curl-ups, are one of the most traditional and most effective exercises for your core. It tones and tightens those abdominal muscles and affects the whole area starting from just under the sternum to the area above the pelvis. The best thing about sit-ups exercises is that they are appropriate for all levels—it doesn’t matter if you are a beginner, intermediate or advanced, everyone can perform sit-ups!

How To Do Sit-ups Exercises: 

The Basic Version:

the basic version

Image: Shutterstock

  • Lie down flat on your back with your head, neck and shoulders relaxed.
  • Bend your knees and raise them, putting the soles of your feet firmly into the ground.
  • Put your hands to the side of your head with your elbows pointing in the opposite direction. Use your hands to supports your head, not to pull up. Make sure to keep your chin off your chest and your neck in neutral position. Tighten your abs.
  • Now slowly lift your shoulders, head and neck off the floor. Lift till you are about 30-35 degrees off the floor. Breathe out during this movement.
  • Contracting your abdominal muscles, hold this position for 1-3 seconds.
  • Inhaling, lower your body to the starting position.


a. The Military Version:

  • This version involves crossing your arms on your chest with opposite hands on opposite shoulders instead of keeping them near your head.
  • Now when you lift your shoulders blades, you try to touch your elbows to your knees while exhaling. Hold for a second or two while keeping the muscles contracted.
  • Then lower into the starting position with your shoulders rolled back, chest pushed out, abs tightened and arms crossed.
  • It is better to make someone hold your feet to the ground while doing military sit-ups. If you don’t have somebody, then you can put your feet under something that’ll not move.

b. Jack Knife Sit-ups:

jack knife sit ups

Image: Shutterstock

  • Lie flat on your back with your arms extended straight behind your back.
  • Keep your legs extended with your toes pointing upwards.
  • Exhaling, raise your legs and arms to meet in a jack knife position, bending at the waist. Upper torso should be off the floor.
  • Lower yourself, straightening legs and arms to their original position.
  • This variation works on the torso as well as on the legs. It is very effective for the lower abs.

If you’re beginner or can’t lift straight legs, you can start doing jack-knives with your knees bent.

c. Oblique Sit-ups or Torso-twisting Sit-ups:

oblique sit ups or torso twisting sit ups

Image: Shutterstock

  • Get into the sit-up position. Tighten your abs.
  • Lift your shoulder blades and head off the floor.
  • Now twisting your torso, reach to touch your right knee with your left elbow. Make it so that your elbow doesn’t come in your line of vision.
  • Hold it for 2-3 seconds. Now return to the starting position. Repeat for the other side.
  • For making oblique sit-up exercise more intense, you can extend your arms above your head instead of lacing them behind your head.

Tips While Doing Sit-ups Exercises:

  • Beginners should start with 2 sets of 10 reps and progress accordingly. To intensify your sit-ups routine, increase the number of repetitions you do. Like if you are doing 30 reps of curl-ups, your next routine should aim for 35. As you progress you can increase your repetitions for any number – 100, 200, 300!
  • The key to building core strength is the speed at which these sit-ups are done. Take deep breaths and keep the pace slow, really concentrating on contracting the muscles and holding the position.
  • Start with your feet 12-18 inches from your butt and continue doing your curl-ups, but the moment you feel like you can’t do it anymore, increase the distance between your butt and your feet. This new angle between your abdominal muscles and legs would take you through a few more reps.
  • Lower back pain is the main complaint that people practicing sit-ups come across. If the speed of the movement is too fast, it’ll result in severe lower back pain. To avoid the pain, a less intense variation of sit-up could be done with the exercise ball to lessen the strain on the lower back. Also, even when doing on the floor, you could keep your lower back firmly in contact with the floor throughout the movement to avoid excessive strain.
  • You can also add weights to intensify your exercise sit-ups and challenge yourself more. Just grab a pair of dumbbells or ball and hold them in your hands. Weights are best added in the Jack-knife version of sit-ups. 

Sit Ups Exercise Benefits:

Sit-ups are the basic exercise for building core strength. They increase the strength and flexibility of the entire torso internally and externally. Different variations target all the groups of all abdominal muscles through different range of motions. A strong core helps stabilize the whole body not only as an excellent exercise on its own but also as a base for building strength for other exercises.

Killer abs? A piece of cake! Try sit ups and you can have the abs of your dreams. Does sit ups form a part of your daily exercise routine? Have they helped you? Share your experience with us in the comments section below.

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