You may not be aware, but the Army recently removed sit-ups from their physical fitness tests, and it sounds like the Marines & Navy might not be far behind.
So why the change, after all this time? Why are sit-ups getting such a bad rap?
At Kaia, our programming and education team have discussed in-depth why we would start eliminating sit-ups and incorporate other exercises for core strengthening in our training.
So, let’s dive in & bust the myth that sit-ups are the best core exercise for you, while also going over what is my top favorite core exercise.
Sit-ups, like many exercises, require good form to gain the best results.
Typically, good form goes out with window with increased speed or high reps, which seems to be when sit-ups are utilized the most.
According to Harvard Health Publishing:
One reason is that sit-ups are hard on your back - they push your curved spine against the floor and work your hip flexors, the muscles that run from the thighs to the lumbar vertebrae in the lower back. When the hip flexors are too strong or too tight, they tug on the lower spine, which can create lower back discomfort.
In addition to this Harvard Health article, fitness coach and certified stretch therapist at Stretch Relief, Brian Jimenez share that sit-ups "unfortunately and justifiably get a bad rap" because the move has little to do with actual core endurance, strength, stability or mobility.
At the end of the day, our goal is to create a strong, supportive mid-section or transverse abdominus, that gives us good posture, helps us do burpees/KB swings, run better, or a myriad of other moves that make us feel strong and supported.
So, what’s the answer? Most fitness experts seem to agree that it’s (insert drum roll)
This isometric hold activates not just your transverse abdominus, but your rectus abdominus, internal AND external obliques.
Similarly, to sit-ups, if done improperly, planks can lose their benefit. So if you find yourself dipping into your low back, or ‘hanging’ on your shoulder blades, it’s important to drop to your knees, or potentially attempt a supported plank (forearms on a box or even a wall). Gradually work your way into a Kaia-level plank, switching it up with side planks, spidermans, etc.