Why You Should STOP Doing Sit Ups--And What You Can Do Instead
Updated: Jan 29
There's a little known fact in the world of Corrective Exercise. That fact is that sit ups...well they're crap.
I know, I know. We learned them in P.E. class. We see them assigned in workout plans time and time again. But they are not a functional exercise and often times they take you further away from your goals.
So What's Wrong With Sit Ups?
Now you may be asking yourself what the problem is. Sit ups seem like such a well known exercise for getting toned. The biggest problem that we see with sit ups is that they only work a superficial muscle group and can cause your inner abdominal muscles (responsible for stabilizing your spine, healing back pain, and creating a corset shape for your waist) to fall asleep and be underactive.
Let me break it down, here. Sit ups work a muscle group called your Rectus Abdominis. You can think of your Rectus Abdominis as the superficial PTA mom. She looks nice and put together on the outside, but on the inside, she is a hot mess. Same goes for this muscle group. Exercises that only use this muscle group (like the sit up) can cone out your abdomen, separate your inner abdominals from your spine, worsen diastasis recti, exacerbate back pain and the list just goes on and on.
The muscle that we want to activate during abdominal exercise is called the Transverse Abdominis, or what I call the "corset muscle". Think of this muscle as the hard working mom who does a lot of the behind the scenes work and holds things together. This muscle is responsible for wrapping around the spine, stabilizing the low back and hips, healing pelvic floor issues and abdominal separation from childbirth, correcting back pain and creating an hour glass figure. (Nice, right?!) This muscle is NOT typically activated during sit ups, crunches, or most common ab work outs. It's important that we change that!
How to Work Those Abs Right
The way that you activate your "corset muscle" is by drawing your belly button in and up towards your spine during each rep. You might notice that while doing a sit up, this is nearly impossible, as your abs will most likely try to cone outwards. Herein lies the problem.
This wonderful muscle will most likely be difficult for you to wake up and activate, as it probably hasn't been purposely used in a while, or ever. You can start waking it up by doing some breathing exercises. Count to four as you inhale slowly, expanding your belly as you fill it up with air. Then, as you exhale, squeeze your belly button in and up. It should feel as though you're using a muscle to squeeze that belly button in. That muscle is your Transverse Abdominis. Once you get used to waking it up and utilizing it, you can start to use it for other abdominal exercises like planks and Pilates movements.
Reach Out for Support
What have your experiences been with sit ups? Ask your questions and leave your comments below! And as always, I would love to treat my readers to a complimentary consultation where I can give you more ways to activate your "corset muscle" and get the best results. You're always welcome to message me through the "contact" page to schedule.