I do 100 sit-ups every morning but they don’t seem to be doing anything for my stomach definition. Should I be varying the sit-up a little more?
If you really are performing 100 perfect sit-ups every day, there are two possible reasons for your lack of noticeable improvement. First, our bodies quickly adapt to specific tasks, and once the muscles have strengthened sufficiently to cope, they will not carry on improving unless you set them a tougher challenge. So your daily régime may be “maintenance only” by now.
Alternatively your genetic make-up may be thwarting your “six-pack” ambitions. However strong your stomach muscles, if you are carrying any appreciable fat around your trunk, those muscles will be hidden from view. You simply cannot sculpt a more defined profile through overlying fat, even a relatively thin layer of it.
However, it is more likely you are not getting your sit-ups quite right. The abdominal sit-up is without doubt one of the most abused of gym exercises — very easy to get wrong, and completely ineffective without the right technique.
I suggest you go back to basics, starting with this simple “abdominal crunch” technique. When you do it correctly, you should feel the effects very clearly in the centre of your abs, and it is hard work completing 15 crunches, let alone 100 (as a rule you don’t need to do more than 30 repetitions of any muscle exercise).
I am assuming you have no back problems. If you do, take advice from a trainer or physiotherapist before practising sit-ups.
- Lie on your back, knees bent and feet firmly flat on the ground in line with your hips
- Do a little pelvic tilt (draw front hip bones slightly up to your eyebrows), and suck down your tummy button to keep your low back and buttocks on the ground during the movement
- Rest your fingers at the top of your bent legs
- Keeping your head and neck still, tighten your central abs and slide hands towards your knees
- Your head and upper back should lift directly upwards (keep looking at the ceiling), as though being pulled up by a piece of string in your stomach
- Do not round your shoulders or dip your chin to your chest
- Hold the position briefly at the top point (which may be only 10 to 20 degrees off the floor), before lowering back down slowly and under control.
When you can manage 20 crunches with perfect control, you need to move on to a harder challenge. Here are some options:
- Hold each crunch at the top point for 5 seconds before lowering down again slowly
- Place your feet against a wall, making a 90 degree bend at the knee, to do the exercise
- Keeping your low back and bum firmly on the ground, increase your movement to a “sit-up” (about 30 degrees), taking your fingertips beyond your knees.