The Death of the Sit-up

If you wanted stronger abs 20 years ago, sit-ups were where you started. After all, you see them in home fitness videos and Rocky movies, so they’re obviously the gold standard, right?

Although doing sit-ups shouldn’t immediately cause injury, they put your lumbar spine in a compromised position and over time can lead to back pain via shear force on the intervertebral discs.

Another big problem is that sit-ups use the abs to perform spinal flexion. This is a secondary function of the abs. Their primary job is bracing. A great way to improve your bracing ability is through the plank. Here is one of my favorite variations of the plank to use in your next workout.

1. Approach a mat on all fours with your hips directly over your knees and your shoulders directly over your hands.

2. Round your back (think black cat) and imagine tucking your ribs into the front of your shorts. Squeeze your abs

3. Turn your toes under and raise your knees 3-4 inches above the mat. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth while holding for 20-60 seconds.

Planks beat sit-ups every time. This exercise will help you improve your core strength and bracing ability while encouraging proper spinal alignment, all without the risk of low back pain. For plank progressions, email me at