How to Do Sit Ups

One Methods:Other types of sit ups

Doing sit-ups is a quick way to get stronger abdominal muscles. Start off with the basics and then try some modifications to the traditional sit up when you get stronger.


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    Have your knees bent and the balls of your feet and heels placed flat on the ground.
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    Place your hands on opposing shoulders, so that your arms are crossed over your chest, or behind your head. This allows you a central rising point.
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    Tighten your abdominal muscles gently by drawing in your belly button to your spine.
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    Keeping your heels on the ground and your toes flat to the ground, slowly and gently lift your head first, followed by your shoulder blades. Focus your eyes on your bent knees, all the while gently contracting the abdominal muscles. Pull up from the floor until you're at a ninety-degree angle, or when the elbows are on, or past, the knees.
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    Hold the position for a second. Slowly bring the torso back to the floor but try to keep it slightly elevated off the ground. This means not to place your back flat to the ground but to keep a slight, yet relaxed, arch.
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    Repeat steps 3-5 for the remainder of the exercise. Only do two to three if you're a beginner and slowly build up the amount over time, as your strength increases. Then hopefully you will lose weight, too!

Other types of sit ups

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    Work the sides of your abs by doing oblique sit ups.
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    Do bicycle sit ups to give your legs a workout as well.
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    Target your lower abdominals by doing reverse crunches.
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    Do sit ups with an exercise ball if you have back pain and want to minimize strain to your back.
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    Do jack knife sit ups to workout your whole torso and your legs.
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    Learn military sit ups if you want to put your abs through boot camp.


  • If you're having a hard time keeping the balls of your feet or heels on the ground keep at it, try asking a friend to keep them down. You can also find a heavy object (such as a sofa chair) and place your feet under it. This will give you support when attempting to bring yourself up.
  • Moderation is the key to any abdominal exercise since the abs are literally the center of the body. If you think about it, in everything you do in daily life (walk, run, sit, stand, reach up for something, etc.) you have movement at or through your abs. With that in mind, be aware that if you overdo the sit-ups (or any abdominal exercise) you run the risk of ruining your next day with pain in the abdominal region. If you are a beginner, start out slowly and gradually do more.
  • Be careful and limit your first couple workouts to only a couple so you don't pull anything.
  • As you get stronger, try a Pilates variation to this exercise: Instead of holding your hands behind your head or on your shoulders, keep your hands straight next to your torso and as you rise into the sit-up, glide the arms forward and then raise the arms at the same time as your torso and stretch them forwards. Keep the shoulders relaxed and do not nod your head forward too far. As you relax back down, slowly float the arms down into a relaxed position back on the ground, next to your torso. Repeat for each sit-up.
  • Breathe in as you sit up and breathe out as you put your back to the ground. This way, oxygen circulates throughout the body.
  • When doing any sit up, always breathe in and out as you proceed.
  • If you are starting on military sit ups, do a few crunches first. It is always good to start slow and easy, to prevent injury.
  • If you cant build your stamina to do sit-ups in once then divide them 15+ 15+ 15 in the whole day.


  • Keep in mind that the only way to build muscle is to push the muscle beyond its endurance limits. But if you do so many sit-ups to the point that you start to feel a stinging sensation on your abdominals, you have done too much. Your form will start to deteriorate and you won't be performing a proper sit-up.
  • Avoid doing sit-ups if you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis. Bending your spine in the sit-up position places increased stress on your bones and can put you at risk for a stress fracture.
  • Do not commit the common mistakes of sit-ups:

    • If you choose to get your hands out of the way by putting them behind your head, make sure you don't push your head forward while lifting your torso. There is a natural tendency to do this since it helps you lift up and the tendency will increase as your abs get tired. However, the push on your head will strain the muscles in the neck. If you deal with your arms in another way, still try to keep your head out of the exercise.
    • Don't try to put your forehead on your knees. The higher you come off the ground the better, but only to a certain extent. If your back is starting to curl (namely, you could be considered as being in a humpback position if you were standing), you will be placing too much strain on your lower back.
    • If you can't keep your feet on the ground and haven't secured them properly, you will be spending extra effort to do so during the sit-up. Unfortunately, this effort will originate in the thighs, which isn't the target of a sit-up. In some people the thighs might give up before the abs, rendering the whole exercise completely useless.

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