Situps shouldn’t be your go-to abs exercise—and not just because they’re boring. If you’re only doing situps, you’re only training one part of your abs, your rectus abdominis or “the six-pack muscles” that run from the bottom of your chest to your pubic bone. That leaves the transverse abdominis, the deep layer of muscle that wraps around your torso, and the obliques, muscles that run down your sides, untouched. Neglecting these muscles leads to dysfunction and even injury, not to mention you’ll never look quite as good as you could with your shirt off. (The Harvard Medical School even advises skipping situps.)
But the worst part of situps isn’t what they’re missing, it’s what they’re acting on—namely, the spine. Imagine standing up, then throwing your torso forward to touch your toes, over and over. It’s easy to see the havoc that wreaks on the lower back, and it’s similar to what’s happening with most situps. While performing a slow and controlled situp can work fine to build one section of your abs, there are far superior alternatives that can target the entire core, while strengthening other parts of your body and even burning fat.
Here are the moves you should prioritize instead.
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