Simple Ways to Do More Sit-Ups

Woman doing crunches
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The sit-up test is one of the standard tests used to assess abdominal, core, and hip flexor strength and endurance during some military and first responder training. It is also included in other common physical fitness tests. These tips will help you learn how to do more sit-ups, increase your abdominal and core strength and endurance, and pass your next fitness test.

Set the Stage Before You Start

Do a little advance preparation before you kick off your training. This will help make your workouts more efficient and effective.

Review the Principles of Exercise Science

Before you begin your sit-up training workout, it's helpful to understand the six principles that explain the science behind fitness training. With this knowledge, you'll learn how to improve your fitness in a safe and systematic way. If you understand the concepts of overload, progression, adaptation, specificity, and so on, you will be better able to train effectively.

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Watch Now: 3 Moves to Switch Up Your Ab Workout

Perfect Your Technique

Before you start cranking out multiple reps, make sure your sit-up form is perfect. If you don't already know how to do it properly, you need to start at the beginning. Learn how to keep a neutral spine, and avoid pulling on your neck or crunching too high.

Determine Your Baseline

To find the number of repetitions you should perform in each set, do as many sit-ups as you can in two minutes and divide this number by three. This is your baseline repetition count. Each workout will generally include three sets of this number of repetitions. Retest yourself every four weeks to set a new repetition baseline.

Create a Workout Plan

Once you know your baseline, you are ready to set up and begin your sit-up workout. Do it every other day (such as Monday, Wednesday, and Friday).

  1. Warm up for about 5 minutes with a slow jog, cycling on a stationary bike, or jumping rope.
  2. Perform three sets of repetitions with a 30-second rest between each set. Each week, add two to three sit-ups to each your set.
  3. End your workout with a long, slow, prone back extension to release tension in your core.

Add Variation

There are endless ways to vary your abdominal workout. If your goal is to do more sit-ups, you'll need to improve your overall core strength and endurance. Consider using a variety of different abdominal exercises in the early weeks of your training to build good core strength and stability, which will make the specific sit-up exercise easier in the following weeks. Try:

If you are looking for another way to prepare for the sit-up test without doing hundreds of sit-ups, use this quick core workout once a week to shake up your ab work.

Add Resistance

If you have access to an incline sit-up bench, this is a great way to add intensity to your sit-up exercise during one workout each week. Even if you perform just half of your regular reps during this workout, you'll gain core strength fairly quickly.

Get Adequate Rest and Recovery

If you are performing sit-ups or other ab exercises to fatigue, you will need to allow at least one day of recovery between workouts. Practicing sit-ups every day can backfire and result in a decrease in strength and endurance.

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  1. Hung KC, Chung HW, Yu CC, Lai HC, Sun FH. Effects of 8-week core training on core endurance and running economyPLoS One. 2019;14(3):e0213158. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0213158