Sit-ups are probably the most popular ab exercise in the world. You could ask almost anyone what a sit-up is and 99% of people will be able to tell you how to perform a sit-up. The sit-up is used by numerous different organisations such as the defense force and emergency services in their fitness test to determine if you are physically ready to handle the job you are applying for. But how could such a widely known and used exercise be bad for you? For the answer we need to look at the movement itself and the reasons why we might be performing the sit-up.
The sit-up is a movement that requires trunk flexion in order to “sit-up” off the ground. As this is a trunk flexion movement, it predominantly trains the Rectus Abdominis or “6 pack muscle”. Muscles that perform hip flexion are also used in the sit-up movement. While you could argue that our body was made to flex so why is trunk flexion an issue, our culture and environment play a huge roll in why the majority of us do not need to do any more flexion based exercises such as the sit-up.
Today we live in a society that sits for the majority of our day. We get up and sit down to eat breakfast, sit down in the car driving to work, sit down at a desk all day, drive home, sit down to eat dinner and sit down in front of the tv to relax. In every one of these seated positions your trunk is in flexion. So what is the goal when you go to the gym? You what to get fit, improve posture and feel better. So with those goals in mind why would you train the very movement that you are suck in for the majority of your day?
While the sit-up might not be a ‘bad’ exercise for the general population with no current low back injuries/issues, it will not help you to get closer to achieving your goals. Choosing exercises that train the entire ‘core’ targeting your weaknesses is always a better option than sit-ups. So book an appointment with an exercise professional that can help you determine your weaknesses and give you exercises that will improve your posture and help you feel better.