Sit-ups: Is it worth it?

What is it? You lie on your back. You sit up. You lie back down again. You sit up. After repeating this thousands of times over the course of several months, you might – but probably won’t – end up with a six-pack.

How much does it cost? Nothing.

What does it promise? The theory goes that sit-ups will give you rock-hard abs because they help to strengthen the rectus abdominis muscles. However, I’ve been doing sit-ups for many years and my gut still strongly resembles a condom that’s been overfilled with cream cheese. What gives?

What’s it actually like? It’s important to work on your core, because that’s where all your strength and balance comes from. But sit-ups alone won’t engage the whole thing. They’re ineffective at best and, if performed incorrectly, they can knacker your back. Thankfully, there are loads of much better exercises around. A plank is an automatic improvement. Squats are better than sit-ups; push-ups are better than sit-ups. Holding a medicine ball above your head and repeatedly throwing it on the floor as hard as you can is better than doing sit-ups. The basic rule of thumb is this: the more of your body that you move, the better it is for your core. The other rule of thumb is this: you can work your core as much as you like, but you won’t get a six-pack until you stop eating so much cake. Which is useful, but not really a level of commitment I can fully get behind.

Best and worst bits: There isn’t a best bit, because they don’t actually work.

Is it worth it? Nope.


-the guardian