Did you know that the main drawback to doing sit-ups is the possibility of injury to the lower back or neck?
I bought a Bender Ball once and used it to do improper sit-ups, dislocating a rib in the process. That pain was NO joke. Back to plain old, no equipment needed sit-ups for me!
To perform a proper sit-up:
Lie down on your back.
Bend your legs and place feet firmly on the ground to stabilize your lower body.
Cross your hands to opposite shoulders or place them behind your ears, without pulling on your neck.
Curl your upper body all the way up toward your knees.
Slowly, lower yourself down, returning to your starting point.
Some people have the tendency to hurry through sit-ups. When you do that, you begin to rely on momentum to propel you forward and you're not fully engaging your abs. Focus on performing each rep in a slow, controlled manner, and after each rep, pause and press your back firmly to the floor to prevent yourself from bouncing off of it.
Pro tip: By hooking your feet together during a situp, you can get a decent workout for your lower legs, too!
I know...sounds pretty basic. Buuuuuut...
Wait, that's not all!
Did you know that there's also a proper way to breathe during sit-ups?
I had no idea.
Improper breathing during this exercise can result in headaches, dizziness, and pain in the neck and shoulders.
“The golden rule for breathing when you’re working out is to exhale during the hard part and inhale during the easy part,” says Los Angeles-based personal trainer David Knox.
Following that logic, for sit-ups, you should exhale as you lift your body and inhale as you lower back to the ground.
As you exhale, you should squeeze from below the navel. As you inhale, let the air rush upward into your chest and feel your ribcage expand and open.
AND, no matter what, don't hold your breath! This causes blood pressure to rise and muscle to contract.
Actually, breathing exercises by themselves can help to strengthen your ab muscles.
If you're anything like me this week, this is about the speed I'm looking for.
For a simple ab-strengthening breathing exercise, lie flat on your back and gradually lengthen the duration of your inhalations and exhalations. Just try not to fall asleep!
The more you control your breathing muscles during workouts, the stronger those muscles will become.