#23 TRENDING IN Youth Voices 🔥

Why You Should Stop Doing Sit-Ups During Your Workouts

Youth Voices

Fri, June 14

When I think of sit-ups, my mind flashes back to my elementary school gym floors. We would lay out the gymnastics mats twice yearly for mandatory fitness testing. This test included shoulder taps, the dreaded pacer, the even more dreaded mile, and, of course, sit-ups.

I was horrible at sit-ups, and I tried everything I could. I flailed my arms and my back, but nothing worked. I would get a subpar score every time because I lacked sit-up skills. This is where injuries happen.

Sit-ups aren't all they're cracked up to be. Every workout that is supposed to target your abs incorporates sit-ups somewhere in the video. Many 6-pack-in-a-month challenges have sit-ups as a primary move. But does that mean they're effective and safe?

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In the past decade, the U.S. military has begun phasing out sit-ups and crunches from their mandatory tests and training. Why is that? There has to be a reason why the U.S. military is getting rid of this workout.

The Ugly Truth

Doing sit-ups puts unnecessary strain on your back and neck muscles. The constant straining of these muscles can result in injury or long-term discomfort. If you think about it, every time you do the sit-up, you are pinching important nerves in your spine and lower back.

The pinching is not a good thing. It can lead to many complications and pain in the future.

"Research published in 2005 on soldiers stationed at the U.S. military's Fort Bragg attributed 56% of all injuries sustained during the two-yearly Army Physical Fitness Test to sit-ups."

The most common reason sit-ups are included in our workouts is that they work the "six-pack abs." But that's the thing: they ONLY work the "six-pack abs," meaning that the other abdominal muscles aren't being worked. This leads to a weaker core, which means a weaker body.

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If you are like most people, you don't do every single sit-up perfectly. You make mistakes. When you make those mistakes, it enforces bad posture.

If you consistently do sit-ups incorrectly, it WILL affect your posture. You might not realize that you are making mistakes in your form, but that doesn't mean you aren't making them. Proper form with any type of workout is crucial, but especially with this workout.

Lastly, sit-ups are simply not as effective as influencers make them out to be. Scientists have discovered that sit-ups don't reduce waistline circumference or trim belly fat. They also realized that sit-ups aren't the best way to strengthen your core or keep it flexible in the long run.

Scientists and trainers recommend the plank over sit-ups. Planks work your whole body and help you slim down over time.

The Facts

Stuart McGill is a Canadian biomechanics researcher who focuses his studies on the spine. He is one of the main reasons that sit-ups are getting so much criticism. Through the 1990s and the 2000s, he led research on sit-ups and crunches.

He says, "The problem occurs when you flex repeatedly with load from higher muscle activation."

In simpler terms, this means that the more your spine flexes, the riskier it is for you in the long term. Too much of this action can also cause spinal disc injuries.

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Upon further research, I found that McGill isn't the only professional who dislikes sit-ups and has discovered the true intentions of this workout. Mikhail Merritt is a personal trainer and fitness instructor at CrossTown Fitness.

"The main concern we see with sit-ups is the flexion of the spine."

Now, we can see from both perspectives—a scientist and a personal trainer who works with this workout every day. There are a lot of other professionals out there who believe the same thing these two individuals do. However, it's a mix of solid evidence and personal opinion based on that evidence. So it's hard to say that sit-ups are completely bad without adding an opinion of some sort.

Remember!

A strong core is important, not just to show off and look good. It's for your everyday activities and life. If you were to simply remove your core muscles from your body, what would happen?

You would just fall over; your core muscles hold you up and help you stand tall and strong. Your core is everything, and you have to keep it strong while keeping yourself safe. A strong core can lead to greater confidence in yourself. When you feel stronger, you tend to stand a little taller.

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Common Mistakes

  • Pulling on the Neck
  • Shifting Elbows Forward
  • Arching Lower Back
  • Using Momentum

Alternatives

  • Planks
  • Mountain Climbers
  • Deadbugs
  • Push Ups

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All of these workouts work your whole body, so you won't just be working some of your abdominal muscles—you will work all of them, along with your arms, legs, and glutes. Your body will thank you if you substitute sit-ups for one or all of these classic moves.

To Do or Not To Do

At the end of the day, I can't control whether you continue doing sit-ups. My job is to explain the risks associated with this exercise and why it might not be best for you. But you may still have your own opinion about sit-ups, and that's okay, too.

Remember to ALWAYS keep your form as much as possible to avoid injuries and pain. Be sure to alert your doctor if you start having pain or discomfort.

Precious Simpson
5,000+ pageviews

Writer since May, 2024 · 28 published articles

Precious is a high school junior in New England who likes to read and write in her spare time. She enjoys baking cupcakes. She enjoys watching the Gilmore Girls and The Summer I Turned Pretty. Precious is a writer for her school newspaper and an Executive Assistant Editor. Precious also works as an Editor for her school yearbook as well.

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