What’s up, True Northers? Are you ready to kick it old school in our latest entry for our What the Fundamentals (aka WTF) series?
The Sit-Up has received a bad rap in recent years, however, this “old school” core exercise is one we’re gently bringing back as long as it’s not contraindicated, it’s programmed properly, and it’s performed correctly. Don’t misunderstand us, we still heart our dying bugs, anti-rotation presses, Turkish Get-Ups, insert other “fun” core exercise here but we also believe variety is the spice of life.
The following is a progression we use with our members to help them achieve their first full sit-up.
  • Eccentric Sit-Up – In this exercise, we’re focusing on learning to lower ourselves with control. Start in the top position, feet about hip distance apart, and keeping them flat on the floor, lower yourself SLOWLY down to the mat. The repetitions for this exercise will be lower since we’re working on the eccentric portion, think 2 to 3 sets of 5 to 6 repetitions. NOTE: If you find yourself falling to the mat on repetition 4, for example, you may need to work in the 3 to 4 repetition range and gradually build up strength for the 5 to 6 repetition range.
Once you’ve mastered that we’re on to the…
  • Assisted Sit-Up – For this exercise, you will need a sandbag, kettlebell, medicine ball, or anything else heavy you may have lying around to assist you. Start in the same position as the Eccentric Sit-Up, making sure to anchor your feet using the implement of your choice. Lower yourself down to the mat with control and then focus on using your abdominals to come back up (if you’re a body nerd, think about pulling your sternum closer to your pelvis). Aim for 2 to 3 sets of 5 to 10 repetitions.
Once achieved, you’re ready for the…
  • Sit-Up – Start by sitting up tall with your feet about hip-distance apart; lower yourself with control to the mat using your abdominals to pull yourself back up. Make sure to keep your feet flat on the mat throughout the entire exercise, et voilà, you’re now sitting up all on your own. Aim for 2 to 3 sets of 5 to 10 repetitions.
Two notes in regards to things you may catch yourself doing while performing the Assisted Sit-Up or the Sit-Up.
  1. Launching or throwing yourself off the ground rather than using your abdominals to pull yourself back up. If you catch yourself trying the “rocket launcher” method it’s best to either regress the exercise, for example, if you’re doing Sit-Ups regress it back to the Assisted Sit-Ups and/or regress the repetitions, for example, if you catch yourself starting to launch yourself up on repetition 7, regress the repetitions to 5 or 6 and work on gradually building them up over time.
  2. Feeling tension in your neck. If this is happening it’s more than likely you’re reaching forward with your chin as you start to come up, you can try to cue yourself by making e a double chin or bringing your chin to the chest to see if that helps you find a more neutral head position. If not, you may want to regress either the exercise or the repetitions.
As always, if you have questions feel free to let us know and until the next WTF, have fun sitting up!