How to Stretch Your Abs Before Sit-Ups

Stretching before situps warms the muscles to prevent injury.
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Just as you would stretch your legs before beginning a run, you should also stretch your abdomen before performing situps. Rather than just haphazardly twisting and turning at the waist, use moves that actually target the two main abdominal muscle groups. The rectus abdominis muscle stretches vertically along the front of the stomach, while the external oblique muscles wrap around the sides of the stomach. Knowing how to stretch your abs before situps warms the muscles to prevent injury and allows for a more effective workout.

Standing Stretch

Use the standing abdominal stretch to target the rectus abdominis muscle group. Begin in a standing position with your feet slightly apart and legs straight -- but avoid locking your knees. Lift your arms overhead, extending them toward the ceiling. Arch your back and lift your chest toward the ceiling. As you do this, your arms should naturally move backward. Deepen the move until you feel a good stretch along the length of your stomach. Hold for five to seven seconds.


Cobra is a gentle yoga pose that allows for a deep stretch along the rectus abdominis. Lie on your stomach on an exercise mat with your legs extended behind you. Spread your palms on the ground under your shoulders. On an inhale, press your palms into the ground and straighten your arms -- your torso should lift off the ground. Your pubis and legs should remain in contact with the floor throughout the stretch, so straighten your arms only to the height that allows for this contact. As your flexibility improves, you’ll be able to straighten your arms further and deepen the stretch. Hold the stretch for 10 to 20 seconds and then slowly lower back to the ground.

Cat and Cow Pose

The Cat and Cow stretches are also borrowed from a yoga routine. The combined poses allow you to target both the abdomen and back -- the two areas of the body blasted by situps. Begin on your hands and knees with your palms directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips. Maintain a neutral position with your neck. Move into Cat pose by rounding your spine toward the ceiling -- like a cat arching its back. Hold for a few seconds and then transition into Cow pose by sinking your belly toward the ground. Hold for a few seconds and then repeat the sequence five to 10 times.

Seated Side Stretch

The seated side stretch targets the oblique muscles. Sit on the ground with your legs spread wide, as though you were straddling a large exercise ball. Keep your back straight and toes pointing toward the ceiling. Extend your arms out to the sides, parallel with the floor. Slowly bend to the right, bending your elbow and bringing it to the right thigh. Hold for 10 to 15 seconds and then return to the neutral position. Repeat on the other side. For maximum effect, repeat the sequence five to 10 times.

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