How to Do Sit-Ups Without Anchoring Your Feet

Situps can help strengthen abdominal muscles.
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When done correctly, situps can help strengthen your core and promote good posture, balance and stability. Many people perform situps with their feet anchored under the couch or they have someone hold them down. According to Dr. Ted Lambrinides, Ph.D., the director of Athletic Strength and Power, this reduces the effectiveness of the situps, because you use your hip muscles to pull your body up, more so than your abdominals. Lambrinides says that anchoring your feet during situps isn't safe, because you tend to arch and strain your lower back. Before starting a new exercise routine, consult your doctor, especially if you have a medical condition.

    Lie on your back on an exercise mat with your knees bent enough so your feet are flat on the floor.

    Rest your left hand on your right shoulder and your right hand on your left shoulder so your arms are crossed in front of your chest. If you're new to situps, keep your arms stretched out next to your body, parallel to the floor. This reduces the weight you have to lift and makes situps easier.

    Contract your abs and push your lower back into the floor -- visualize pulling your navel to your spine. Lift your head and curl your shoulders, shoulder blades and back off the floor, one vertebra at a time. Come up about 45 degrees and keep your chin off your chest. Only your buttocks and feet should be touching the floor. Move slowly so you can control the movement.

    Roll your upper body back to the starting position, one vertebra at a time. Maintain the abdominal contraction throughout the entire exercise.

    Repeat the exercise 10 times and work your way up to complete three sets.


    • Avoid holding your breath -- inhale right before raising your body up and exhale when you're sitting up at a 45-degree angle. If you desire neck support, spread your fingers apart and lightly place them on your head behind your ears while pointing your elbows outward. Avoid pulling on your head or making a jerking motion -- use your abdominals to come up.

      If your abdominals are too weak to perform situps, lift only your head, shoulders and shoulder blades off the floor and perform crunches to gain abdominal strength.

      Once you've mastered situps with your arms crossed over your chest, hold a dumbbell on your chest to increase the challenge.

      Perform abdominal exercises every two days so your muscles have enough time to recover.

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