You can work your core muscles in surprisingly many amounts of ways. Find out what the benefits are of the sit-up exercise.
One thing to mention is that there are also potential disadvantages to sit-ups. Some people find this exercise uncomfortable on their backs.
1. Sit-ups can grow and strengthen muscles
Unless you have really strong core muscles, sit-ups are mainly a resistance training exercise.
In simpler words, they are mainly good for growing and strengthening certain muscles. This can offer both health and visual benefits.
The main muscles worked with sit-ups are:
- Abdominal muscles aka your abs
- Hip flexors (front hips)
- To some extent obliques
Something you need to know is that just doing resistance training exercises like sit-ups a few times here and there is often not enough to reach your fitness goals.
Instead, how many sit-ups a day or a week you should do depends on details like what fitness components you want to work on.
For example, to grow your abs and hip flexors, you would do about 3 to 6 sets of 6 to 25 (and even up to 50) sit-ups with a resistance that is very challenging.
Since these muscles are relatively strong, many people can see a lot of results from doing the bodyweight version.
At the same time, stronger individuals may need to do weighted sit-ups to stay in the ranges above.
2. Sit-ups may reduce and prevent back pain
Many people struggle with aches and pains. This is partly because modern life lacks challenging movements like sit-ups that can strengthen your body.
Luckily, you can also pay extra attention to implementing these challenges anyway. This can help you avoid and reduce certain pains.
For example, one review of studies concluded that core strength training exercises like sit-ups can reduce low back pain (1).
A different study divided 120 people with lower back pain into two groups. One group got a core stabilization exercise program whereas the other group got routine physical therapy exercises.
They observed that the core stabilization exercise program was more effective in reducing pain (2).
As briefly mentioned, do keep in mind that some people will find sit-ups uncomfortable on their backs.
If this applies to you, you likely want to choose isometric (static) sit-up alternatives like planks instead.
3. Sit-ups are budget-friendly
Some exercises and sports require you to invest in pricey equipment options.
Investing in your health can still be worth it but there are often ways to get similar benefits for less too.
One of the benefits of sit-ups is that they don’t really require any investments at all.
Even if you need extra resistance, household objects like a backpack with water bottles can offer a lot of results.
It is true that this also applies to many other core exercises but it is worth quickly mentioning in the case of sit-ups anyway.
4. Sit-ups can benefit weight loss slightly
To start off, it is worth emphasizing that sit-ups are not good at all for this next benefit.
At the same time, you can still say that sit-ups benefit weight loss to a tiny extent for a few reasons.
First of all, the movements involved in the exercise are slightly more intense than standard daily activities. How many calories sit-ups burn can vary but there are rough estimations.
The average person will burn around 41 to 71 calories while doing sit-ups for 15 minutes.
Besides that, the small amounts of muscle mass you can build with sit-ups can increase your energy usage a small amount too.
These things make it more likely, but are no guarantee for, getting in a situation where you are using up more energy than is coming in from the things you eat.
A routine like 100 sit-ups a day will help weight loss to a tiny extent but just not that much. You should see the results more as a welcome side effect of your core workouts.
It is true that sit-ups are slightly better than crunches for burning calories. However, both of these core exercises are still relatively bad for this purpose.
5. You can do sit-ups almost anywhere
On top of needing exercise equipment, there are also many workouts that require you to be in specific locations.
This can range from a basketball field to the gym (for equipment that is not at-home-friendly).
Again, making the extra effort for these things can still be worth the fun and benefits.
At the same time, you want to keep in mind that even short trips really add up over multiple workouts.
Bodyweight exercises like sit-ups can be great for people who want to avoid spending time on this.
Another positive point of this benefit is that it becomes easier to implement sit-ups throughout the day. You could theoretically do a few sets of sit-ups every time you have a few free minutes.
6. Sit-ups could make daily activities easier
While standing up and walking around, core muscles like your abs, obliques, and erector spinae are at work to keep your body upright.
By improving the endurance in your abs (and to some extent obliques) with sit-ups, you could find certain daily activities less tiring and more enjoyable.
7. Sit-ups can make your six-pack more visible
The health benefits of workouts are great but many people are also interested in the visual consequences.
One example is that ab exercises like sit-ups can make your six-pack stand out more. This is generally considered to be visually appealing.
Something to note is that your body fat percentage first has to be low enough to be able to see this benefit of sit-ups.
Otherwise, your bigger six-pack abs would stay hidden below the stomach fat.