Are sit-ups bad for you? And what to replace them with?

Discussion in 'Health and Fitness' started by Lad_Gorg, Jun 18, 2013.

  1. Lad_Gorg

    Lad_Gorg Valued Member

    I've heard that sit-ups can be damaging for the lower back because of the way the lower back is bent. I've also heard that they aren't they most optimal way to develop your abs.

    That being said; What are your opinions on these criticisms of sit-ups, and what do you find is the best exercise to develop you abdominal's in a gym setting?

    Just before the question comes up, my reason for developing my abs is for purely practical reasons, as any MA's knows the importance of a good core. Besides aesthetics will come afterwords :p
  2. AndrewTheAndroid

    AndrewTheAndroid A hero for fun.

    They are fine as long as you balance them out with back exercises.
  3. Simon

    Simon Back once again Admin Supporter MAP 2017 Koyo Award

    I disagree.

    Sit ups don't work and they are not an abs exercise.

    The modern way of thinking was to replace site ups with crunches, but even they have gone out of fashion, with straight back exercises taking their place.

    I've just got in from work and a posting on the run a little here, so I'll try to find some more information later.

    Don't do sit ups though.
  4. AndrewTheAndroid

    AndrewTheAndroid A hero for fun.

    Just for clarity I think that they are also not very effective. However I don't see the harm in doing them other than wasting time.
  5. Simon

    Simon Back once again Admin Supporter MAP 2017 Koyo Award

    The harm comes from using the incorrect muscles.

    When the feet are anchored, which is how most of us do sit ups, it's not the rectus abdominus that is raising the trunk, it's the hip flexors.

    By using the hip flexors the spine is pulled into an anterior pelvic tilt. This can put pressure on the discs.

    I've just read an article saying that non anchored sit ups are just as bad because of the way the internal organs move back to accommodate the crunch of the abdominals. This can also put pressure on the discs.

    This, among other reasons is why many are now turning to straight spine abdominal exercises.

    Anyone who has ever used a tornado ball will tell you they are a lot more effective than a sit up or crunch.
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2013
  6. Madao13

    Madao13 Valued Member

    Lad_Gorg, from what I have seen and read if you are lifting heavy and doing combound exercises f.ex. squats, deadlifts, presses, etc. you are already giving a good workout to your abs and core because you are engaging it in each exercise to stabilize your body and keep proper form.

    Are you doing any lifting programme right now?

    To expand more, I personally hate ab work and the only exercises I am doing specifically for abs are the bench lying leg raises and I am using the ab wheel, an exercise highly recommended from what I have seen.
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2013
  7. matveimediaarts

    matveimediaarts Underappreciated genius

    Situps aren't bad, per se. I don't do them myself because I don't find them very effective. My gym has a few pieces of ab equipment that work for me. They're both made by LifeFitness. One is an ab crunch "chair". It lets me do crunches in a comfortable position and add weight resistance. There's also this interesting piece, and I don't know what it's called. It's basically a free-standing piece with a backrest and arm rests. You rest your arms on the rests and pull your legs up to contract the abs. It's nice because it also has handles at the end of the arm rests so I can do tricep dips and more challenging crunches. Hope this helps. :)

    ETA: Just thought of something that may be of use, OP. If your gym has exercise balls, find one, lay back on it (so you're balancing with the ball at the center of the back), and do presses and flyes. Having to balance while pressing forces your abs and back to work harder.
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2013
  8. Lad_Gorg

    Lad_Gorg Valued Member

    I'm currently following a lifting program of a body builder friend of mine, albeit much lower weights. The point was that I wanted him to make sure my technique is on the right track, and that I'm performing the correct amount of set and reps. He splits his days into arms, legs, back, and shoulders, and I have been making gains in all the respective areas, but so far haven't felt much ab gains.

    Also in 2 weeks or so I'll be switching to a program that Bruce Lee created back in the 60's which I recently dug up in one of his books. The goal is total body development for MAists. It's a fairly balanced routine, but I'm willing to make adjustments, for example I'm replacing push-ups with bench presses, dumbbell flies, and incline presses mostly because I hate push-ups, but also I find these lifts more suitable for my current condition and that I'd make better gains with these three instead.
    After hearing Elliott Hulse criticize sit ups and crunches, I was planning on replacing them with some more modern form of abdominal exercises. But yeh I'm hear looking for what you guys have to say!
  9. Lad_Gorg

    Lad_Gorg Valued Member

    I'd rather just focus on one exercise at a time if I'm honest. Although it's a nice idea, I think it'd take away from the other exercises that I'd be doing, so I'd rather separate them.

    We have one of those machine that you describe in our gym, but I think that at my current level it'd be useless to me xD My abs are quite under-developed at the moment, and so I'd need a primer before I can go into the heavy stuff like that!
  10. matveimediaarts

    matveimediaarts Underappreciated genius

    Get a close look at that machine before you dismiss it. The one in my gym goes down to ~5 lbs, and I've seen the old folks using it. :eek:
  11. Gripfighter

    Gripfighter Sub Seeker

    ab's by and large are built in the kitchen not the gym, if by ab's you mean core strength then sit up's are fine as part of a warm up, occasional body weight session but no I wouldn't hammer them.
  12. Lad_Gorg

    Lad_Gorg Valued Member

    Fair enough fair enough! I'll give it a look when I'm in the gym again!

    That seems to be the view of body builders as well. I'm not concerned about getting a 6 pack though, I just want some core strength, especially since I found them holding me back the last two times I was training (in Judo and TKD).
  13. Kave

    Kave Lunatic

    Personally I would not be looking to Bruce Lee for workout advice. Modern training and knowledge regarding routines has moved on considerably. Don't forget that poor training methods led to Bruce Lee badly damaging his back.
  14. Princess Haru

    Princess Haru Valued Member

    I try and fit an ab exercise into the end of my workouts. Usually it's a Standing Cable Crunch on the extended arms cable machine, mostly because you can stand facing it and pull down with the hands up by the head. The motion is very much like a sit up, but the majority of the loading is to the abs through the shoulders, with a minor amount in the hip flexor in the lower part of the crunch. I also add a resistance band. I used to like Dragonflags but have struggled to find a suitable bench at my current gym that doesn't have annoying edge, preventing the right kind of grip behind the head. I've also been working a progression for Ab wheel rollouts. Ross Enemait makes these look easy but they are not. We've got a Landmine device so I like to make use of it for obliques, pretty tough on abs too. I used to do a lot of Hanging leg raises, but am already working the grip hard with sets of Pullups so moved away from these
  15. Frodocious

    Frodocious She who MUST be obeyed! Moderator Supporter

    There are much better ways of working your abs than using any variety of sit ups and crunches (including the machines you see in gyms). Situps can and do cause and aggravate lower back issues and, if you spend a lot of time sitting in a chair in are really not a good addition to a workout. There are much better ways of working your abs (many of which have already been mentioned). Planks and side planks are excellent, as are pallof presses, half kneeling landmine presses, reverse crunches, dead bugs, compound lifts, weighted carries etc. You should also make sure you balance stomach work with back work (reverse hyperextensions are good for this).

    Some good info to start you off can be found here:
  16. Mitch

    Mitch Lord Mitch of MAP Admin

    There are lots of good examples of exercises using various bits of equipment in this thread, but what can folks suggest to replace sit ups for a class that isn't in a full time gym?

  17. Frodocious

    Frodocious She who MUST be obeyed! Moderator Supporter

    Reverse crunches can work well for that (or even planks)

    [ame=""] Reverse Crunch Technique - YouTube[/ame]
  18. Lad_Gorg

    Lad_Gorg Valued Member

    Oh I agree, this was set up back in the 60's I figured somethings would be out of date! But the routine is pretty solid, it targets all major muscles groups, save for shoulders and lower back, which I plan supplementing with shrugs, cable work and dead lifts. Also I'm swapping out push-ups with more controllable and targeted barbell and dumbbell work. I'm also looking to replace sit-ups with anything better xD

    Consider this my interpretation of Bruce's work out!
  19. Lad_Gorg

    Lad_Gorg Valued Member

    Haru and Frodo thanks for your advice! I guess I'll try out a few of the exercises that you suggested and see which ones I like the most.

    I'll be back here when I have more questions or when I come across problems!
  20. Simon

    Simon Back once again Admin Supporter MAP 2017 Koyo Award

    I second the planks, just because of the variations.

    Standard hold, one arm held out forwards, one leg held out to the rear, then opposing arm and leg and so on.

    Also let's be honest, as hobby martial artists many students realise their core isn't that good when asked to do planks (which is a good thing), by which I mean they have to work, as there is no hiding.

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