Sit-ups: Learn the Proper Technique and Get Great Results

Sit-ups: Learn the Proper Technique and Get Great Results

Last update: 05 July, 2018

It is one of the most popular exercises, we even learn this as children. But, it is easy to make costly mistakes. Learn the proper technique for doing sit-ups and give your abs the workout they deserve.

Sit-ups may have been the first exercise we learned, either from a friend, a neighbor, or a family member. However, when we become adults, many of us realize we do not know how to do them correctly. What about you? Read this article to learn the proper technique and get the most out of doing sit-ups.

Tips for doing sit-ups correctly

There are many mistakes we can make when we do  sit-ups. It is possible that you have gone to the gym and had a trainer question your technique. Do not worry, this is because there are many traditions and myths surrounding this exercise. Here are some tips to keep in mind in order to do sit-ups properly.

The back

The back is the part of the body in most danger from improper sit-up technique. You always need to keep your back straight, and you do not have to lift it all the way up, as many mistakenly do. Of course, we are talking about the anterior rectus abdominis muscles, because exercises targeting the obliques or transverse abdominals, will require you to lift your back off the ground.

In any case, you do not need to lift from your back, as the strength should be coming from the abdomen. So do not force it: let your back lie flat on the ground, and always keep it straight.

Woman doing situps at gym

Avoid heavy movements

The effort required by the exercise may mislead us into letting the back fall heavily on the ground. This will not work out the muscles we want to exercise, and can lead to injury.

When lifting your back and letting it come back to the ground, you need to use soft movements. Remember that the ideal way to do a situp is to go up quickly and go down slowly.


Correct breathing technique is essential to exercise. This is also true in the case of sit-ups. Breathe in as you go up, and breathe out as you come down. You will not get as tired, and you will also notice a long-term improvement in the way you breathe and in your body in general.

Learning to do sit-ups correctly

Believe it or not, many people do not know the proper posture for doing sit-ups. Use these tips to make sure you are doing it the right way:

  • Face up. Lie down on a mat with your knees bent at a 90 degree angle. Your feet have to be fully supported by the thighs.
  •  Put your hands on your head. Many people use their hands for strength, pushing the head forward. This will only lead to a neck injury. Simply place your fingertips behind your ears, with your elbows pointing out to the sides. This position will allow us to push ourselves and maintain balance, without jerking the head or the neck.
  • Lift your torso. You need to get your torso as close to your knees as possible without lifting your back off of the ground. Tighten the abdomen as you do this for greater effect. Remember, your feet should not move from the ground.
  • Do 3 sets. The minimum you should do is 3 sets of about 10 to 15 repetitions each. Do this 2 or 3 times a week. Remember, more is not better when it comes to exercise, as your muscles will adapt and you will not get the desired results.
Woman doing situps

Additional tips

If you want to workout your abdominals while doing other exercises, squeeze the abdomen for as long as you can, while you run, ride the elliptical, or ride your bike. Even if you are sitting at work, you can still squeeze the abdomen to work out your abs. The most important part, is to always do it the right way so as to avoid undesirable effects.

These tips on how to do proper sit-ups have been designed for the anterior rectus abdominal muscles. But, there are many other variations you can do while using the same tips. Make sure to keep your back straight and draw strength from your whole body without forcing your head or your neck.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.