Just doing a core muscle resistance training exercise like sit-ups is often not enough. You also need to do enough repetitions a day to see results.
Sit-ups are mainly a resistance training exercise for your core muscles and hip flexors. The main results of doing the movement will be growing and strengthening these muscles.
To grow your ab, oblique, and hip flexor muscles, you want to do about 3 to 6 sets of 6 to 25 weighted sit-ups.
It is also possible to get results with sets of up to 50 and potentially more repetitions. You do really want to push yourself to muscle failure in these high-repetition sets.
That being said, before you implement these ranges, keep in mind that your body fat percentage needs to be low enough to visually see the results of your bigger muscles.
Sit-ups are generally not helpful for this step. As an example, a 185-pound (83 kg) person will have to do about 20,592 sit-ups to lose the number of calories in a pound of body fat (3500 calories).
Even if you would get this extra calorie-burning, you would still need to pay enough attention to other lifestyle habits like your diet to see (belly) fat loss results.
How many sit-ups you should do a day to get bigger abs
To grow and strengthen muscles you have to put them under enough pressure and do enough repetitions. Sit-ups do work your ab (and oblique and hip flexor) muscles but these principles still apply.
What enough means depends on your current ab muscle strength. That being said, there are still some general guidelines that can help you put together your core workout.
If you can barely complete about 3 to 6 sets of 6 to 50 bodyweight sit-ups, these ranges will be how many you need to get bigger abs, obliques, and hip flexors.
Something important to keep in mind is that you really want to push yourself to muscle failure in 25+ repetition sets to see a lot of results (1).
When/if the ranges of bodyweight repetitions above become too easy (and even before that), doing weighted sit-ups can increase how much ab, oblique, and hip flexor muscle growth you can get and speed up the process.
Similarly, there is a range of how many weighted sit-ups you should do instead of one specific number.
To grow your ab, oblique, and hip flexor muscles, you want to do about 3 to 6 sets of 6 to 25 sit-ups with a weight where you can barely complete these ranges.
How many sit-ups per day for beginners
People who are new to core training may ask themselves whether they should implement any specific ranges.
However, while it is true that beginners will likely need fewer sit-ups to be able to see results, the same principles above still apply.
That means core training beginners may only need something like 3 to 6 sets of 10 sit-ups to see results. At least initially.
However, slightly fewer repetitions could still offer ab, oblique, and hip flexor muscle growth if these areas are not that strong (yet).
Similarly, more repetitions could be necessary. Especially when your core muscles get stronger over time.
Should a woman do different amounts of repetitions a day?
Many women also wonder whether they should implement a different sit-up routine than men.
Resistance-trained women do seem to do slightly better with higher repetition ranges than men because they build type 1 muscle fibers more easily (2).
With this, you can say that women would benefit just a bit more from ranges like 3 to 6 sets of 10 to 30 weighted sit-ups.
At the same time, for most women, just focusing on the general ranges above will be less confusing and more than enough to see good ab, oblique, and hip flexor muscle growth results.
Is it OK to do sit-ups every day?
During resistance training exercises like sit-ups, you damage the muscles you work.
This may sound like something you don’t want but it actually starts a variety of processes that can repair the muscles and make them bigger and stronger.
However, your body still needs time to complete these processes. That is why it is typically recommended to implement a rest day for the muscles you worked before targeting them again with resistance training.
That being said, smaller muscles like your abs, obliques, and hip flexors tend to recover more quickly than big muscles like for example your glutes.
For this reason, it is typically OK to do sit-ups every day. Especially if you pay enough attention to your nutrition and sleep.
At the same time, you can also see great results from doing sit-ups every other day. This can save you some time and helps you stay away from overtraining.
Is it possible to get bigger abs in 2 weeks?
By now, you know how many sit-ups you need to do per workout to get bigger abs and how often you can do sessions like these.
The question then becomes how long it will take to get bigger abs by doing sit-ups. For example, some people want to see results after as fast as 2 weeks.
If your abs are visible because your body fat is low enough and you implement the sit-up ranges above, you can likely already see slightly bigger abs as soon as 2 weeks.
That being said, while the positive effects of sit-ups can be noticeable already, you should also not expect the craziest results from a short time frame like this.
If you keep increasing the repetitions you do and/or the weight you use, there will still be a lot of room for growth and strength improvements.
Additionally, if you just implement something like 100 sit-ups a day for 2 weeks and then stop, your core muscle gains will slowly but surely go away.
How many sit-ups should you do a day to lose weight?
Many people also get the impression that core exercises like sit-ups are good for weight loss. However, while they do help a tiny amount, sit-ups are generally not good for losing weight, as you will see from the amounts below.
To lose weight you have to make it so your body needs more energy than is coming in from food. At this point, it starts using energy stores like body fat to get the remaining needs.
Sit-ups help with this to some extent by making your movements more intense than usual. At the same time, this is definitely not the most intense exercise either.
As a first example, a 155-pound (70 kg) person will have to do about 24,578 sit-ups to lose the number of calories in a pound of body fat (3500 calories).
If this person wants to lose this number of calories every week, he/she would have to do around 3511 sit-ups a day.
Amounts of sit-ups to burn certain calorie counts
In the table below, you can find a few other predictions about how many sit-ups different people have to do to burn certain amounts of calories.
These numbers come from the calorie-burning estimations of sit-ups per minute and a pace of 24 repetitions per minute.
Do keep in mind that these are very rough estimations. In reality, the numbers can look different for you due to differences in body composition, hormone levels, exact intensity, etc.
|Calorie Burning Goal|
|100 Calories||1000 Calories||3500 Calories|
|125 Pounds (56 kg)||871 sit-ups||8,707 sit-ups||30,476 sit-ups|
|155 Pounds (70 kg)||702 sit-ups||7,022 sit-ups||24,578 sit-ups|
|185 Pounds (83 kg)||588 sit-ups||5,883 sit-ups||20,592 sit-ups|
|215 Pounds (97 kg)||506 sit-ups||5,062 sit-ups||17,719 sit-ups|
Will these amounts of sit-ups also help you lose belly fat?
As mentioned, these amounts of calories you burn do not necessarily come from body fat. However, even if they do, that does not necessarily mean you are losing belly fat.
Some people get the impression that core exercises like sit-ups burn belly fat because their core muscles “burn” (fatigue) when doing the movement.
However, that does not necessarily mean you are using energy from this area. Whether or not your body uses belly fat depends on details like your genes and how far you are in your weight loss journey.
So how many sit-ups you should do to lose belly fat is not really something you can predict.
It is possible that a routine like 100 sit-ups a day does not do anything in this area for you. At the same time, this routine could be enough for someone else to lose a bit of belly fat.
Lastly, something to note is that even for this other person, sit-ups will generally not be that helpful for losing belly fat compared to many other exercises.
How many sit-ups you should do for a visible six-pack
To get a visible six-pack, you first have to lose enough body fat. After that, you can do sit-ups in the ranges above to grow core muscles like your abs.
So if you still have to take care of the first step, you should likely not do sit-ups for their energy-burning effects. Other workouts and lifestyle areas like your diet tend to offer more results in this area.
You can already do sit-ups to grow and strengthen your core muscles. However, keep in mind that you will not see too many, if any, visual changes.
If you already are at the second step (or take care of the first step), you can get (more) visible six-pack abs from just doing sit-ups with the right resistance and repetition ranges.
That means again about 3 to 6 sets of 6 to 25 weighted sit-ups, potentially a day. Adjust the weight you use as you get stronger to keep seeing progress.
How long does it take to get abs by doing sit-ups?
First of all, you need to lose enough body fat to make your abs visible. After that, you can start to get slightly bigger abs as soon as 2 weeks. To see really significant results you do want to aim for 2 months or more.
Can you get abs from just sit-ups?
You already have abs but you have to lose enough body fat and make them bigger. Sit-ups alone are likely not enough to lose enough body fat. However, when you take care of the first step, just doing sit-ups can be enough to get bigger abs and make them more visible.