T Nation

What's So Bad About Sit Ups?


Topic says it all, from everything ive read as long as you have strong enough abs to counteract the spine being pulled by the psois(sp?)that its no problem

also why does every rag on the 3 set thing? ive found it works great for me just wondering why people discard it instantly


If something works for you it's cool for us here. Problem is that nothing works forever.

Regarding situps:

You don't really isolate the abs. Most guys target the iliopsoas with situps more than their abdomen.
You have to do a shitload of them. Which is unnecessary and boring and complicates training.
Many people seem to get issues with their neck and back when doing a lot of situps.


I do sit ups. Sometimes even weighted sit ups. But I incorporate them in a total ab program with other movements as well. I also like reverse crunches, hanging knee raises and pikes, v-ups, double crunches, etc...

Every exercise has its place. You just can't overlean on one.


I do decline barbell situps, that seems to take care of all the normal complaints. I can guarantee you'll feel it at the end of a 5x5, and it's so easy to increase the load.


what im doing right now for core work is incline situps, leg raises (with hip flexion) and side bends for the obliques and of course my dead lifting and squatting and all that works my core too


But don't forget to work in some rotational movement for the obliques as well.


I'm under the impression that the main problem with situps is the compressive forces acting on the lumbar spine. I really don't remember the precise objection from Stu McGill, but I'm sure someone else remembers.


silly question, how do i do that?


wood chops


full contact twists?


It totally depends on the individual. I believe for many people situps are not good for the following reasons:

-put strain on the lower back
-strengthen the hip flexors
-get people used to entering hip flexion when they should be entering spinal flexion
-get people used to using any means of completing an exercise, momentum, any muscle that could possibly help..

They are good for the following reasons:

-Strengthen the hip flexors
-Standard of work. a situp is obvious to see. a crunch is much more subjective

Most people can benefit from doing situps occasionally as part of a program. They should not be the base on which you build your core training but they have their use. If you have strong enough abdominal muscles to keep a C shape to your spine while entering through the midpoint of the hip flexion phase of a situp, they can be a very demanding exercise.

But as another poster stated they can increase the anterior compressive force on the spine, maybe even when done correctly...


Weighted decline situps and iso holds are the shit.


Read the two-part interview with Stuart McGill here: "Mister Spine."



If you want to know what is wrong with sit-ups, try Janda situps.

Lay on the floor in traditional sit-up posture. Your friend stands by your feet, puts his hands under your calves (right by your knees) and tries to pull your calves off the floor. You push them back down, ACTIVELY engaging your posterior muscles to try to keep feet on the floor. Then do a sit up.

Reciprocal innervation causes the psoas to deactivate and now you're just using your abs.


well the incline situps im doing now dont hurt my back at all , the only other thing i could do would be crunches, as i cant do V ups or jackknife situps or anything like that


That's untrue. Janda's hypothesis has never been confirmed by the research. Check out research from Juker et al. (1998) that showed the psoas activation was just as high with the knees flexed as with them bent. The hamstrings actually cause hip extension, which means that you have to go even further into hip flexion to perform the movement.


EMG studies have actually demonstrated that nothing changes at all.


The closer your chest gets to your thighs, the more flexion in the lower spine. Extreme flexion, plus the Psoas cranking down, is bound to cause a problem if done enough.



But shouldn't the hamstring,glute activation in a Janda sit-up (teoretically) disable the hip-flexors, and thus force you to use your abs to complete the movement?


do decline sit-ups(with a twist for obliques)and when you start to tire go halfway and hold.that will get the job done.

people dont like sit-ups cause they dont know how to do them,plain and simple


The Rectus Abdominis flexes the trunk. They reach maximal contraction at the top of the crunch movement. Continueing the movement of the chest towards the thighs is the Psoas muscle.

McGill's- Lower Back Disorder's clearly shows this in Table 5.4, 5.9 and 5.10 which chart the EMG activation levels of various muscles during a bunch of different movements, including situps and crunches.