T Nation

Can't Do One Sit-Up


I don't understand why I cannot do any situps without lifting my feet of the floor. Especially considering I can do 200 Pressups and 50 pullups, yet not one sit-up!! In fact I don't even come close to being able to do one situp, and its something that frustrates me as I can't understand why. Have any of you guys seen people with a similar problem? Or have this yourselves?


Do situps with you feet being held for a week or two and you will be able to do a few and will slowly progress. Your stomach just isnt strong enough and you are compensating by lifting your feet. As in anything practice makes perfect.


I guess the old philosophy, that you dont need to do ab training to see your six pack has caught up with me; since I don't train my abs that much, as at 9% BF i can see them anyway.


Haven't done sit-ups for years. Always had some support under my feet when I did.


50 Pullups! Holy heck that's a lot. I don't know anybody who can do this. Really, I think you should be able to easily knock of some one-arm chins.

So, if you're such a pullmeister, why don't you try variations of the pullup which aim more at the abs?


BJJ pullup: when rising up, your knees go up too, so, while at the top position, they touch the bar.

L-pullup: simply do chins with your legs parallel to the ground all the time.

When you try to incorporate these into your pullup workout, your abs will soon burst with strength.
By the way, how did you train for the "50s" it? how much do you weigh?


My mom actually has some screwed up bone structure where it is physically impossible for her to do a sit-up. She's never been able to do a single one her entire life.


Also take a look at your back flexibility - if your erectors are very tight, you may just not be able to bend the right way.



You need to strengthen your hip flexors, not just the abs. Situps use the hip flexors and abdominals, along with some other little muscles I think. But yes, like previously stated, do the person holding your feet thing, or alternatively, you can just wedge your feet under a bed for a little while.


I weigh 175lbs at about 8-9% Bodyfat, (Im 5tf 9in)

I started training my Pull-ups and other bodyweight compound movements when I went away on holiday to visit some relatives over the Summer. During this time i was resorting to pressups bodyweight squats, and using a pullup bar, of which they had one, to a door-frame. I did not have gym access during this time.

Each day I aimed to do 2 more press-ups and pullups than the day before, and for the first week I found I was able to do this. The amount of pressups I could do went from 50 to 64 with my pullups slightly behind going from 7 to about 17. I tried to convince myself every day that I can do at least one more, because lets face it, if you could do 51 yesterday, why not 52 today? Doing this I made good progress and by the end of the three weeks I think I could do 29 pullups and 90 pressups. Once I got back though, I think it was due to overtraining; that I started to struggle to make those numbers.

Since then though, I have been able to do those exersises in a more structured way, getting in more rest than I did during those three weeks.
Also, I have been doing pullups and pressups 5 days a week, on top of my normal workouts as I have had a pull-up bar put up on the doorframe in my room.

Ab training is something i have never done, I just guessed that with all the other movements I did my abs would naturally strengthen. Also at the bodyfat I am; their was never any incentive to do ab training because I could see them pretty clearly anyway. .


By pressups you mean pushups?
I'm also not bad at pushups, but still I fail to get how you did this amazing feat of 50 Pullups.
Could it be that 50 was the result of multiple sets?
I do not intend to criticize you, 29 pullups is a great PR. I'm just curious.


By 50 pullups i mean 50 at one time, I don't see hot its so amazing :S


This may help: stretch your hip flexors. Seems to help with a lot of things...

the stretch is basically a held lunge in the low position (don't know how to describe it)


If that's full extension to throat to bar, it's damn impressive.


Let me see how I put this...
You could open up a thread titled: "Who can do the most chins?"
I believe you'd be the winner.
At 175lbs, that's amazing.
I'm not bad at chins/pullups [ca25]and I know hardly anyone who manages to do more.
A guy I know who wants to join SEK, German's police SF can do about 30.
Good work!


you could lay on a bench with your butt off of it some and "crunch" while bringing your feet to your chest at the same time.....if you can't do an excercise then find one for the part you can do,i can't keep my feet flat for long,i tend to get lazy since i dont care much about abs


I saw a program of a finnish fitness expo where they had a pullupcompetition (along with other stuff, like repetitions with bodyweight benches etc.). The guy who won the pullup repetitions competition did 48 of them.


Sit-ups are not an ab exercise; they target the hip flexors almost exclusively. Sure, the abdominals are involved in a postural stability role during sit-ups, but that's the case in almost every exercise imaginable.

Doing sit-ups as an ab exercise is like doing bicep curls for the front delts...pointless and ineffectual. There's another reason to avoid sit-ups (as well as leg raises, which are an identical movement, only with the upper body fixed and the legs moving): the hip flexors attach to and pull on the ligaments of the lower spine during activation. This means that sit-up and leg raise movements can exacerbate or even cause lower back problems.

There's no real reason for most people to train their hip flexors. They don't play any major strength role, and from a bodybuilding perspective, having defined flexors is more a question of bodyfat percentage than a training issue.

When it comes to ab training (and when I say abs, I'm referring to the visible, sixpack muscles of the abdomen) the crunch is king. There's a simple reason for that which ought to be familiar to anyone with a background in biomechanics: the rectus abdominis, which IS the "sixpack muscle", functions to curl the spine forward and reduce the distance between the sternum and navel. And this movement is the very definition of a crunch. Therefore, crunches and reverse crunches are the ONLY movements worth doing for aesthetic ab development. Core strength is a different issue, but even there, sit-ups do not play a role.

Your case is interesting for the following reason: When most people think they're training abs, they're actually hitting their hip flexors (as explained above). Since the flexors are far stronger than the abs, pure ab movements tend to be a hell of a lot harder to do than their faux HP counterparts. According to you, "sit-ups" are easier for you in a legs-flexed position than when your feet are on the ground. Now, when the legs are fully flexed at the hip, the capability of the HPs to engage in trunk flexion is significantly reduced. Therefore, the abdominal muscles account for most of the movement. Your abs would seem to be stronger than your flexors -- very strange, indeed. There is one relatively simple explanation, however.

Newton's 3rd law states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. This can be applied to hip flexor training. Ordinarily, sit-ups are done with the feet held down in a stationary position, either by a person or by a pad. When the movement is executed, the tendancy of the feet to rise is counteracted by the resistance of the pad (or the spotter). This resistance is the "opposite force" which the feet ordinarily push against in order to execute the movement. When there is no resistance present, either one of two things will happen:

1) having nothing to push against, the feet will rise in an attempt to execute a classic, hip flexor-only situp.

2) if the feet stay on the floor, the abs will largely take over for the HPs and the movement will be converted to a crunch.

I say "largely" rather than "entirely" in #2 because it's still possible for the HPs to play an active in an unrestrained sit-up. There is, after all, traction between the feet of the participant and the floor, by means of which he can "push against" the latter and activate his HPs to execute the movement.

Here's the bottom line: Always do conventional crunches and their reverse counterparts with HPs in 90 degree flexion. Forget sit-ups. Learn how to do reverse crunches - if you can do an entire rep on your first attempt (or second, or tenth!) you aren't doing them right. Reverse crunches are probably the hardest exercise there is. Remember, ab training consists of flexing the spine. You can either initiate the movement with your torso, as in a conventional crunch, or with your pelvis, as in a reverse crunch. But if there is a change in the angle at the hip, you're no longer training your abs. What's the secret for real ab training for fat-or-weak bastards who can't do a single concentric rep? Slow, controlled negatives. And there you have it.


That wouldn't exactly work seen as most people would just bullshit anyway. I rarely get wowed by numbers on here due to the fact i know most people double them or add 100 lbs or something of this kind.


Do the guy who started this thread:
I find i can't do situps without having my feet under something purely because the physics doesn't make sense. My top half just weighs more than my bottom half around the pivot point. Try leg lifts instead where you just lift up your legs instead of top half.


LogicalLifter, great advice!