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Best Way to do Sit ups for Maximum Results

written by: Sylvie Colette • edited by: Cheryl Gabbert • updated: 2/26/2010

Improve your general health, core strength and fitness level with a simple exercise that requires no special outfit, equipment or facility. Learning the best way to do sit ups will offer your body more than just a chiseled mid-section.

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    Sit Ups

    Sit ups are a basic exercise that most everyone has attempted at one time or another. Learning the best way to do sit ups is the key to truly maximizing your time spent exercising. Simply sitting up from a reclined position is not enough, and in fact continuing to do sit ups done wrong can cause serious damage to your spine. Follow the steps below for how to perform a safe and effective sit up routine.

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    Proper Form

    A traditional sit-up is defined as a conditioning exercise performed from a supine position by raising the trunk to a sitting position without lifting the feet and returning to the original position. While Webster's has the general idea of a sit-up, it does not accurately describe a sit-up done with proper form. Crunches or curl-ups is a better description of what the exercise actually entails.

    Proper form for sit-ups starts with you lying on your back with your knees bent. Keeping your knees bent will reduce the stress on your back muscles and spine. Tucking a rolled up towel across your lower back is also helpful and does not take away any of the benefits of the exercise.

    If you do not have any lower back issues and need a little more assistance, you can tuck your feet under the edge of a couch or other fixed object.

    • Place your hands gently behind or below your ears. Keep your eyes fixed on the ceiling even when going through the full range of motion.
    • Begin to curl the shoulders toward the pelvis. Do not use your hands to pull yourself up or tug on your head or neck, they should be loose and simply supportive to your neck muscles.
    • Contract your abdominals and come up to a 35 degree angle, exhaling during the lift up, or crunch.
    • Hold for one or two seconds before lowering your torso to the floor. Inhale on the way down and repeat.

    Focus your energy and attention on the abdominal muscles and not simply making it through a certain number. Proper form is a very important factor in performing sit ups.

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    Important Tips to Follow and Mistakes to Avoid

    Follow these tips when learning the best way to do sit ups to avoid mistakes and injuries:

    • Placing a rolled up towel in the small of your back offers just enough support and it helps in guiding your movement. Concentrate on not losing contact with the towel keeps the tension in your abs and ensures that you are not raising up too far.
    • Keep your glutes on the floor at all times. The tendency to pop your glutes off the floor to gain momentum needs to be avoided. Do not swing yourself up with either your arms or by rocking your glutes.
    • Squeeze your abdominals and harness their power to curl up. Maintain that contraction to get the full benefit of the exercise. This is best accomplished by not coming up too far like mentioned above and maintaining constant contact with the towel.
    • If you do not have a towel, or care to use one, then simply press the small of your back into the floor at all times.
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    Body Sculpting Manual, 2008

    Two Hundred Sit ups-