Ways to Increase the Difficulty of Your Sit-Up Workouts

Sit-Up Fitness For Your CoreFor your sit-up workouts to be effective, they must be of an adequate intensity and volume to overload your abdominal muscle fibers. As you build strength and tone, it’s important that you progressively increase the difficulty of your training sessions. If you were to perform the same abdominal workout over and over, eventually you will plateau and stop seeing further improvements in strength or muscular tone. If you find that your workouts have gotten a little stagnant and that you’re able to complete them with relative ease, it’s time to kick the intensity up a notch.

The following are some ways that you can increase the difficulty of your sit-up workouts. It’s a good idea to incorporate these tips one or two at a time and allowing some time for your abdominals to adapt.

Add Weighted Implements

The easiest way to increase the difficulty of any sit-up or abdominal exercise is to incorporate a weighted implement, such as a medicine ball, kettlebell, weighted plate or dumbbell. When you complete a traditional sit-up, your abdominal muscles must overcome the weight of your head, shoulders and upper torso as you curl forward. Adding a weighted implement will increase the amount of resistance that your abdominals must lift and thus make them work harder. To perform a sit-up with a medicine ball, hold the medicine ball with both hands with your arms extended out in front of you. Perform the sit-up movement as normal while keeping your arms extended and pointed directly towards the ceiling.

Perform Greater Volume

Do more abdominal exercises! This one is likely obvious, but it’s definitely a way to increase the difficulty of your sit-up training session. Add additional exercises to increase your workout’s overall volume. For example, if right now your sit-up workout consists of the traditional sit-up, leg lifts and oblique crunch, consider adding front plank for one week and then medicine ball twist the next.

Incorporate Variety

Change up your sit-up workouts so that you’re not performing the same battery of exercises during each session. Your muscles are effective at adapting to the stress they receive, so they’ll quickly become more efficient at performing an exercise if they’re asked to do the same movement over and over. Change it up and keep your abdominals guessing so that they’re always undergoing a stress that will cause them to become overloaded and stimulate development.

Perform Dynamic and Static Exercises

A dynamic exercise is one that requires your muscles to perform a concentric contraction, or to shorten, and then to perform an eccentric contraction, which means to lengthen. Most sit-up exercises your familiar with are dynamic exercises. The traditional sit-up, crunches and leg lifts are all dynamic exercises. Static exercises require your muscles to contract and then hold that contraction over time. Front plank is a static exercise because your abdominals have to contract to prevent your stomach from collapsing to the floor. Incorporate both dynamic and static exercises into your workout to force your abdominals to really work.

Add Instability

You can increase the difficulty of a movement and also recruit surrounding stabilizing muscles by adding instability to an exercise. A stability ball can be used to add instability. To perform a sit-up on a stability ball, sit on the ball and walk your feet forward so that you roll down until your lower back rounds the ball. Be sure your feet are planted firmly on the floor and perform a traditional sit-up. You’ll notice that there’s a feel of imbalance, which your body overcomes by contracting muscles in the hips and obliques.

About The Author

Kim Nunley - Article AuthorKim Nunley has worked in the health and fitness field for over 10 years. She received her Master’s of Science Degree in Kinesiology from California State University, Fullerton and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (C.S.C.S.) through the National Strength and Conditioning Association. She has been a personal trainer, strength and conditioning coach, physical education instructor and athletic coach, and now works as a freelance writer. She also writes short and feature-length screenplays.

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