Exercise Profile
  • Target Muscle Group
  • Exercise TypeStrength
  • Equipment RequiredBodyweight
  • MechanicsIsolation
  • Force TypePull (Bilateral)
  • Experience LevelBeginner
  • Secondary Muscles
Target Muscle Group


Abs Muscle Anatomy Diagram

Sit Up Overview

The sit up is a classic abdominal exercise.

It’s rarely performed anymore, however, it’s still a very effective flexion based exercise for those looking to utilize it to target their core.

There are some risks involved in performing the sit up as opposed to crunches (or stability ball crunches). The primary one being the common complaint of lower back pain.

One can perform sit ups as part of their ab workout or full body workout.

Sit Up Instructions

  1. Lay supine in a relaxed position with your knees up and hands across your chest.
  2. Exhale and squeeze your abs as you curl your upper body off the floor.
  3. Once your torso is perpendicular to the floor, slowly lower yourself back to the starting position.
  4. Complete for the assigned number of repetitions.

Sit Up Tips

  1. Exhale hard like you’re blowing out candles on a cake and hold the contraction for a second in order to improve mind muscle connection.
  2. If your lower back bothers you during this exercise, choose more anti extension and anti rotation based movements.
  3. Avoid putting the hands behind the head as this can lead to excess strain upon the neck.
Posted on: Tue, 09/28/2021 - 12:43

Hey guys, I have been doing a workout that has a set of core exercises that I've slowly been adding weight to everything I can. It includes situps and I can currently do the full 3 sets of 15-20 with 100lbs on my chest and I can foresee that if I add anymore weight I won't be able to comfortably hold that weight (100 is already awkward to hold).

I'm looking for some advice on what to upgrade to next? Is there an exercise you recommend that would be an upgrade from this?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 10/04/2021 - 21:26

Hey Josh, try holding each contraction for ten seconds before going back down. You may not need as much weight to make this more challenging.

Posted on: Mon, 07/31/2023 - 22:19

I would assume you are trying to grow your abs not just strengthening your core. My question is, why are sit-ups still being done when beyond a certain point the major/minor psoas muscles are doing a majority of the work and not the abs?

Tyler Blevins
Posted on: Thu, 10/29/2020 - 10:46

So I've been doing this 'sit up' exercise for 4 years now, every month I use a different kg medball. I started at just 1kg and was only 100 pounds but every month doing 200 reps a day all in one sitting I was able to progressively build more strength in the area and now I am proud to say that I lift a custom made 48kg medball every sit up I do. Combo this with a little cardio and healthy eating and you'll have a body like mine. I have developed a constant 8 pack and every woman who sees me bursts into flames upon laying their eyes on me. Not only that but I once stopped a train from going off the tracks with the sheer force of the light reflecting off of my chest. Could not recommend this exercise enough, stay hydrated!

Posted on: Mon, 07/16/2018 - 13:57


E Dawson
Posted on: Tue, 05/29/2018 - 00:40

What's the background music?

Posted on: Thu, 03/08/2018 - 11:03

interesting video

Jared Mosher
Posted on: Fri, 10/18/2013 - 15:32

If this is really straining your back a lot then you probably have a weak core and your back is over compensating. I'd suggest doing more planks and exercises that strengthen the inner core more than the glamour muscles until your core is stronger before doing sit ups

Jared Mosher
Posted on: Fri, 10/18/2013 - 15:31

If this is really straining your back a lot then you probably have a weak core and your back is over compensating. I'd suggest doing more planks and exercises that strengthen the inner core more than the glamour muscles until your core is stronger before doing sit ups

Gregory Grady
Posted on: Mon, 01/07/2013 - 05:41

This sit-up isn't recommended for people with lower back problems.

Gregory Grady
Posted on: Mon, 01/07/2013 - 05:31

This exercise isn't recommended for lower back problems..

Posted on: Sat, 12/01/2012 - 23:44

Hey guys! I'm 120kgs and I do 50x4 situps holding a 7kg medball, I'm doing it for almost a year now, and I follow high protein diet eating steam or boiled chicken, or lean lamb, or beef. Don't eat rice at all (strange for an Asian people find), eat Lebanese low fat bread sometimes, strictly no soda, only blackcurrant or mango nectars, basically diet is going the right direction. I lost 17kgs so far, but still don't see any changes in my body except of course fat. What am I doing wrong? Oh yeah, I also take Musashi protein powder after workout. I usually do in the morning: 30 min cardio and abs, afternoon whatever is on that day + chest or arms. So what is wrong with my workout? Why don't I see anything except weight loss, great thing, but would love to see some muscles you know.

Posted on: Tue, 10/23/2012 - 13:48

Hello all,

I have issues with my tailbone sticking out and after going straight up with 1 sit up it instantly starts hurting. What can i do to substitute? I've been going up on an angle to avoid the pain, is this bad?

Posted on: Thu, 10/04/2012 - 05:42

Could I replace these with crunches and use an ab roller to achieve a similar effect?

Posted on: Mon, 08/13/2012 - 08:29

Hey Steve

I seem to be having that very problem too,my legs seem to get strained when i do this rather than my abs.I end up abandoning it half way because the legs and lower back get strained.Its quite demotivating,Please be so kind as to Answer in the earliest.We are all waiting for your expert advice on how to deal with this hurdle.

Thank You

Posted on: Sun, 08/12/2012 - 11:06

Hi team the beginners schedule of full body workout does it remove also bellyfat and how long must one train to the next level.

Posted on: Sat, 08/18/2012 - 05:09

If your goal is to reduce bellyfat, you should focus on more cardio.

Posted on: Wed, 09/19/2012 - 16:11

To lose belly fat, one can not just do situps and hope for spot reduction. Doing just situps will build muscles under the belly fat while barely burning any fat. Cardio alone will not reduce body fat effectively. Cardio only burns fat for 2-3 hours. Muscle burn fat for 2-3 days. You have to build muscles on all your body parts. As fat burning is not localized it has to burn on all area of the body. If you don't work all your body, fat burning does not go to full effect. So don't forget to build muscles in those legs.

Posted on: Wed, 08/01/2012 - 05:00

Steve, can we try this by holding our back from touching the floor, so that the strain can be held?

Posted on: Fri, 04/27/2012 - 21:55

My back produces cracking noises when I do a sit-up. Is it because of bad form or otherwise?

Posted on: Tue, 04/17/2012 - 04:09

I really appreciate the work out exercise

Posted on: Mon, 04/09/2012 - 23:06

You don't need the bench to do sit ups. If your dumbbells are heavy enough, you can slip each foot under the handles when they are on the floor next to each other, they will act as anchors.

Posted on: Wed, 04/04/2012 - 15:20

my legs get tired when i do these...always have done...weather i have my feet supported or not....i try and ensure its just the abs i use for momentum and it feels like i am doing this, but i cannot stop tensing my legs when i do them

Posted on: Sat, 03/31/2012 - 07:14

This is not the right way to do situps :( Your legs should not be supported because this way you are mainly training your iliopsoas. It ought to be done without any support for legs and you should only rise your upper back and shoulder blades not the lower back.

Posted on: Thu, 04/19/2012 - 23:14

You are thinking of crunches, sit ups are different and this is the correct way.

Posted on: Tue, 03/27/2012 - 13:17

Can I substitue the situps for a P90X ab ripper X 16 minute workout instead 2 or 3 times per week?

steve magana
Posted on: Fri, 09/28/2012 - 19:02

I do ab ripper x aswell. :) kinda intense!

Posted on: Tue, 03/20/2012 - 14:42

can you do a sit up with the dumb bell on your chest and if so how many reps

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 03/20/2012 - 15:07

I do situps this way, typically between 10-20 reps per set.

Posted on: Tue, 03/20/2012 - 13:59

When doing situps i always find my lower back tends to take a strain quickly. Is my form wrong? I end up having to stop because of my lower back rather than my abs being worked out.

Azam Shah
Posted on: Tue, 03/13/2012 - 03:23

Dear Team,

kindly tell us about doing a jerk when getting up, isnt it harmful