The ab sit-up mainly targets the abs while also engaging muscles in the hips.

What Are Ab Sit-Ups?

by Damon Verial

The ab sit-up is the most common type of sit-up and one step in achieving six-pack abs. While many exercises, including other sit-up variations, do work the abs, few target them the way ab sit-ups do. By adding ab sit-ups to your routine, you can strengthen “the abs,” the muscle group covering your stomach and playing an integral role in helping you maintain good posture. The ab sit-up is not complicated; you can do it easily in the gym or in your home with the help of a friend or some creative foot placement.

1. The Sit-Up

Most gym-goers or regular exercises are familiar with the basics of a sit-up. Even if you aren’t, you can probably guess the basics of an exercise named “the sit-up:” Your goal is to sit up. But contrary to many novice exercisers’ conceptions, the sit-up is not a single exercise. The wealth of sit-up variations allows each exerciser to choose the type of sit-up most suitable for her routine. Because the muscles used in the action of sitting up are numerous, engaging more than just what most people call “the abs,” certain types of sit-ups are more useful than others for working different muscles in your body. But in general, every sit-up requires the same type of movement, that of flexing your spine from a straight position to a curved-forward position. You can do sit-ups either lying with your back flat on the ground or lying on a decline, adding more resistance to the exercise.

2. The Abs

One of the main muscles you work when performing sit-ups is the muscle group commonly known as “the abs.” The technical name used by fitness and medical professionals is the rectus abdominis. This muscle is long and vertical, extending from below your chest down to your groin. It covers your stomach and intestines and is the muscle group responsible for producing that “six pack” look. Sit-ups that work the abs can help get you that six pack, but no matter how often you do sit-ups, your six pack will not be visible with a high body-fat percentage and fat covering your muscle tone.

3. Differences From Other Sit-Up Types

Ab sit-ups primarily work the abdominis rectus, though they also engage other muscle groups to a lesser extent. Other types of sit-ups put the abdominis rectus in the background, instead focusing on working other muscles. For example, the twisting sit-up primarily targets the obliques, the set of muscles outside the abs, where many people have love handles. In the twisting sit-up, the abdominis rectus is only a synergist, a muscle that helps the main muscle move smoothly. Another sit-up example, the roman chair sit-up, mainly works the hip muscles, engaging the abdominis rectus only in stabilizing the body so that the body can perform the movement in a steady way. Thus, while many exercises use the sit-up motion, only the ab sit-ups specifically work the abdominis rectus.

4. How to Do an Ab Sit-Up

Sit on the floor and fix your feet so that they cannot move upward. For example, have a friend hold them to the floor or hook them under a fixed bar. Your gym most likely has an apparatus on which to perform sit-ups without your feet moving; ask your gym’s staff for help. Once you’ve fixed your feet, lie back on the floor, knees bent and well above your feet. Place your hands behind your head or across your chest. From this lying position, bend your waist and hips so that your shoulders rise to where they almost touch your knees. To increase the difficulty of this exercise, consider holding a weight while you perform the si-tup or performing it on a decline.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images