The good old sit up is still one of the most popular exercises for training the core muscles. It can be done on the floor, or by using a sit up bench and we can make it harder by using a weight or increasing the angle of the board.
However, now I would like to show you a simple technique that will boost the effectiveness of this exercise no matter which version you do.
Firstly, you have to learn the proper sit up form which is crucial to avoid injuries and pain while performing the move.
If you do it on the floor, lie on the ground with bent knees. Your lower back should be on the floor, as well as your upper back. This way you can protect your spine. If you do it on a sit up bench, it is may be easier to keep this position since the bench has been designed for that purpose.
From this starting position, sit up like when you roll up a sheet of paper. So, firstly your upper back have to leave the ground or the bench, then the other parts of it.
Here is a tutorial video
Here comes the first trick. When, you reach the point where you sit up wholly, tighten your abs. With this extra move, you can achieve a better muscle contraction so that you can engage your abdominal muscles more efficiently.
The second trick comes now.
Instead of letting your body back to the ground or board of the bench thanks to the gravity, we are going to use the negative phase. In the negative phase, the muscles are stretched, and the external resistance is higher than the muscle power, so the muscles only slow the motion. This is the state when we can reach the highest muscle tension. Also, this is the state when the most micro damages in the muscle fibers happen.
To conclude, after we got up, descend slowly back in such a way that we are continually contradicting with our abdominal muscles. The tempo of the descending should be at least twice longer, or even more than the sit up move.
It is a fact that in the negative phase of the exercises we can exert more power by 20 – 30%. This way we can build more muscle mass and strength.
On the other hand using the negative phase is also useful for beginners, who cannot do any sit ups yet because they can get there abs stronger quickly. For example, by using a TRX or your arms holding in front of you when you descend slowly back to the starting position.
So, the next time you do sit ups, do not forget to descend slowly back to get even better results. Anyway, this technique works well with almost any other abs exercises such as with crunches.