Sit-ups have become a mainstay in many common exercise programs. They are a simple and effective way to help strengthen the hip flexors and abdominal muscles. Learning to perform them properly is easy, and when done effectively, they can help you burn a few extra calories on your way to stronger, healthier abdominal muscles.
The amount of calories burned will depend on the intensity and duration of the exercise. By most accounts, sit-ups burn no more than 10 calories per minute. According to Ab-core-and-stomach-exercises.com, if you weigh 150 pounds and want to burn 240 calories using sit-ups only, you would need to complete 1,200 sit-ups at 50 per minute for 24 minutes.
Sit-ups are best when used as one of many exercises in a strength training regimen. They target your abdominal and oblique muscles while also positively stressing several thigh muscles that assist in completing the movement. Combine sit-ups with other exercises like bridge, plank, squat and quadruped hip extensions to form a strengthening regimen for the core of your body.
The most important facet of a proper sit-up is working the abdominals. Near the end of a vigorous set of sit-ups, you may start to include your arm, shoulder and upper back muscles to get you through the set. Consider placing your arms across your chest rather than behind your head. Keep your body movement fluid by developing a rhythm with your breathing pattern, which should consist of a full exhalation as you contract your abdominals on your way up before inhaling as you return to lying on the floor.
No amount of sit-ups at the greatest intensity will get you toned and defined abdominal muscles. When people talk about toned or visible abs, it requires not only strong muscles but the absence of fat that rests on top of the muscles. Because sit-ups are not an effective way to burn calories, you have to engage in cardiovascular exercise. Running, jogging, rowing, cycling and other similar activities done at 60 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate will promote calorie burning, particularly calories burned by using fat.
Sit-ups may not be beneficial if you have chronic lower back pain and irritation. It may be harmful for you to perform sit-ups, as the pressure exerted by the hip flexors on the spine, particularly your lumbar vertebrae, is high enough to further irritate any existing spine problem. This is also true if you have poor spinal alignment, poor flexibility or considerably weak abdominal or lower back muscles.
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