What Muscle Groups Do Incline Sit Ups Get?

Adding weight increases the difficulty.
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Incline situps work your abdominal muscles more intensely than regular situps performed on a level surface because you're working against gravity on an incline. The added intensity might help you get a washboard stomach faster. Incline situps also work the muscles that flex your hips.

Rectus Abdominis

The rectus abdominis is the main target of incline situps. It runs from your pubic bone all the way up to the bottom of the breast bone and the cartilage attached to the middle three ribs. Rectus abdominis flexes your trunk when you bend forward at the waist and helps support your abdominal organs. It’s also the muscle that gives you the six-pack look when it’s developed.


The external and internal obliques form the sides of your abdomen. The internal oblique starts at your low back and runs up and forward to attach to the bottom three ribs and the midline of your abdominal wall. The external oblique covers the internal oblique muscle as well as a middle layer called the transversus abdominis. The external oblique starts at the ribs and runs downward and forward to attach to the midline of the abdominal wall. The oblique muscles help bend and twist your trunk.


The iliopsoas is actually two separate muscles that merge. The iliacus starts at the top of your pelvic bone and runs along the inside and back of the pelvis. The psoas major starts along the sides of the spinal bones of your lower back and runs down to the pelvis. The two muscles merge and continue down through the pelvis and attach to the top and front of the femur, or thigh bone. Iliopsoas are hip flexors, which allow you to bend forward and lift your knees up.

Expert Tips

Perform incline situps by lying on your back on an incline bench with your feet placed under the support bar at the top of the incline. You can make the movement easier by lowering the incline, or crossing your arms over your chest. If you prefer to make the exercise harder, raise the incline or put your hands behind your neck. You can also add resistance by holding weights while performing the movement.

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