Yes, you read the title correctly. Situps are actually one of the worst exercises you can choose. Unless you are boxing, wrestling, or fighting mma style, situps don't serve a single purpose. Situps don't help you lose fat around your belly, or carve out those ab muscles any better than other exercises. That's right, no six pack from those hundreds of crunches you needlessly do.
So what exactly is wrong with situps? First, they tighten the hip flexors, or muscles that help you bend at the hip. A full situp heavily involves the hip flexors, so you are teaching your hips to be bent, the same position you are in sitting down. Not good.
Next, you can develop an imbalance between the front and back sides of your body. Most people do crunches or situps, but not many perform exercises to strengthen the lower back. By only doing crunches or situps, the abdominal muscles and hip flexors pull your body forward, creating a hunched back and shoulders.
What does all this lead to? Decreased performance, low back, shoulder and neck pain can all occur. For many, decreased performance will be the main issue, but it is still an issue.
Now its time to train. Exercises that are great for the core or midsection will strengthen the abdominals, as well as other body parts. This can help improve posture and decrease or possibly eliminate pain.
Bridging exercises are great. They make you hold your body in proper alignment. Planks have you in a push-up like position, but with your forearms down. Hold the position, sucking the abs in hard and squeezing your glutes. Or, place your feet on something elevated, then lift your hips and hold the position with your hips completely straight.
Rotational exercises will help you, as we constantly twist during the day. Be sure to keep the abs tight and always be standing.
Stretch, stretch, stretch. Stretch the hips in a lunge position,. Stretch your hamstrings by sitting and reaching with legs straight. Stand up and pull a foot to your glue to stretch your quads.
These are some basic starting points pretty most people can do. If you do have any pain or health concerns, consult a doctor before trying any exercises to be sure it is not a more serious problem. For a free list of strengthening and stretching exercises, email email@example.com.