Healthy Living YMCA Health and Fitness

Why everything we’ve been told about sit-ups is wrong

Endless myths circulate about sit-ups. We’re told they’re the solution to that pesky paunch around our midsections that just won’t go away. They supposedly melt fat, tone your tummy, and can even give you a six-pack if you do enough reps!

The truth is, even a million sit-ups won’t flatten your belly – they could actually hurt you.

Here’s why you should re-consider your crunches:

  1. Too many poorly executed sit-ups can give you what looks like a pot belly.

    Crunches target the superficial muscles on the surface of your stomach, instead of tightening those deep in your core. When those surface-level muscles start to grow, your tummy will look like it’s bulging out.

  2. Crunches are notorious for causing chronic back pain.  

    To strengthen any muscle, you need to work it to fatigue and beyond. But when you push yourself to keep crunching when your abs are exhausted, you end up placing huge strain on your lower back. The result can be a serious injury that keeps you from working out for weeks.

  3. You’re targeting the wrong muscles.

    After 50 sit-ups, you feel the burn just below your ribcage. But that muffin top you want to melt away sits below your belly button. So no matter how many crunches you do, they’ll never flatten an area they don’t even target.

There are tons of exercises you can do to get a strong, toned mid-section – but sit-ups aren’t among them. Check out our checklist for core strengthening to start building the strong centre you’ve always wanted.