Sunday, October 30, 2011

Perfect Your Sit-Up

There are several common mistakes we all make when we do the basic sit-up. Sometimes, it is very evident because we can feel the pressure in other parts of our bodies rather than our abs. Other times, we think we’re doing great.

First, let’s clear up the confusion about sit-ups versus crunches. A crunch is the ab exercise where you lift just your shoulders off the floor, not your lower back. A sit-up is the exercise where you bring your back off the floor and come all the way up.

Now that that’s clear, what are some basic tips you can apply to improve your sit-up?

  • Heels on the floor: It may seem more comfortable to keep both your feet on the floor as you do this exercise. But what you’d notice is that if you don’t have incredibly strong abs, you’d find yourself lifting your feet off the floor as you come all the way up. A better way to do this exercise is to keep just your heels grounded on the floor; not your whole foot, just your heels. You may find that you have to extend your knees beyond the 90 degree angle to do this, but that’s okay.
  • Cup your head: Most people seem to intertwine their fingers at the back of their heads when they do floor exercises. While this act in itself is not wrong, it elicits a certain response from your body. When you intertwine your fingers behind your head, you tend to push your head and neck up as you lift your body up, and your elbows are forced to come forward. So you’d be hurting your neck and using your shoulders rather than working on your abs. What should you do instead? Separate your fingers and cup the back of your head, keep your elbows wide even as you come up, and make sure you aren’t lifting your shoulders.
  • Elbows wide: I just said this, but I have to reiterate. It is tempting to fold your elbows forward as you come up. Don’t. Keep your elbows wide and focus on just using your abs.
  • Drop it almost to the floor: As you go back down to the floor to complete a sit-up, try not to actually touch the floor. Come as close as you can, and then lift yourself back up. You need core strength just to hold yourself off the floor, so you’d be putting in more work.
  • Don’t wobble your head: Yes, it is a repetitive motion, and so you’d be tempted to move your head up and down as you move your body up and down. But that hurts your neck too. An easy way to avoid this is to pick a point on the wall or floor in front of you, and keep your gaze at that point as you go up and down. Easy!

Alternative: If you find that cupping your hands behind your head is uncomfortable, there are a few other options you can try. Either cross your palms over your chest, stretch your arms out straight above your head, or keep your arms straight out in front of you. Just be careful not to use your arm strength as you lift yourself up because that defeats the whole purpose of the exercise.

Now, try incorporating all that into your sit-up and tell me how you feel!

Cheers Eights & Weights!

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