Military Sit Ups (BAD FOR YOUR BACK?)

Military Sit Ups (BAD FOR YOUR BACK?)

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You’ve probably heard that full sit-ups are bad for your back and will destroy your spine. That might be a true statement, if you do your sit ups wrong. You see, spinal flexion is one of the motions available to your spine. When laying on your back, as you would before a situp or crunch, your abs are responsible for the curling of your trunk off the ground. Where this goes wrong is when people lack the stability of their pelvis during the motion. In this video, I show you how to be sure that you keep your hips and pelvis where they need to be to avoid many of the dangers of the full military sit up on your spine.

The military physical readiness exams require that you be able to perform sit ups. Like them or not, if you are preparing to enlist in the military, or even your local fire or police department, you are going to have to be able to perform full sit ups. In order to protect your spine along the way you want to be sure you get your pelvic position right.

Before initiating your first rep of an abdominal sit up, you want to be sure to flatten your lower back against the ground by posteriorly rotating your pelvis. This will act to shut down your hip flexors from dominating the movement, and more importantly, prevent the pelvis from starting in an anterior tilt. When starting from an anteriorly tilted pelvis you introduce a high likelihood that you will shift from anterior to posterior during the exercise. This creates high shearing forces in your spine that will be borne through the annular fibers of your spinal discs.

Over time, the gradual breakdown of the peripheral support of your discs leads to disc herniations and ruptures. In order to prevent sit-ups from hurting your back, you have to avoid the shearing caused by the shift from one tilt to the other during the exercise. You can prevent this by starting the exercise and finishing the sit up in a posterior pelvic tilt.

Slowly lower yourself down using the eccentric strength of the abs and perform your next rep in the same fashion. Don’t hook your feet under anything to start the exercise as this will trigger the early activation of the hip flexors which while automatically pull your hips into the undesired anterior tilt.

As you can see, if you perform the full military style sit up incorrectly it can definitely lead to back problems and a bad back overall. That doesn’t have to be the case however. In fact, you can train your entire body with a physical therapist created workout program by visiting and getting the ATHLEAN-X Training System.

For more ab workouts and exercises for your abs that are even better than sit ups, be sure to subscribe to our channel here on youtube at

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Achieving your fitness goals may seem to some an impossible dream. Take the time to understand what you need to do to achieve your goal and set realistic goals for getting in shape. Find ways to reward and motivate yourself for achieving milestones along the way. Review the advice in this piece, and learn how to make working out more enjoyable.

Music is helpful to listen to while working out. Music will get you moving. This is a natural response that everyone shares. You can make your workout more rewarding and fun if you pick music that will make you feel like you are dancing. You don’t even realize how tired you are from the workout because you are getting so much enjoyment out of “dancing.” Music is an excellent way to increase your workout time without even realizing you are exercising.

Find a few friends who are motivated to work out with you. Make sure to be considerate of their plans when scheduling a work out. When you partake in conversation your workouts will feel shorter and more fun. Enjoying those you are around will help you to take the focus off yourself. If your life is busy, making your exercise routine a social activity can help you reconnect with friends. If you want to make your workouts more entertaining, you should include your friends in your exercise routine.

Video game workouts are great because they are fun, which keeps your mind off of the intensity of the exercise routine. You can find many video games that will help you get in shape. By emphasizing fun activities in your exercise regime, you forget you are beginning to tire and spend more building up your body!

Wearing exercise clothes that are flattering to your body help with motivation. Check out the many different colors and styles available. When putting together an exercise outfit, get creative. The better you feel in your exercise clothes, the more motivated you will be to go out and exercise.

Repeating exercises constantly will only lead to boredom and discouragement. Therefore, it is crucial to vary your workouts regularly. As an example, instead of just sticking to your treadmill in your home, why don’t you go out for a walk or jog? You will be more motivated to stick to your fitness regimen if you vary your exercise routine.

Rewards trigger the pleasure center of your brain and are a great way to keep you on track. It doesn’t have to be something expensive. A bite of your favorite food or some low-calorie frozen yogurt can do the trick. If you are going to give yourself a reward, you should make it something your really going to look forward to getting. It is important to keep yourself motivated to meet your weight loss goals.

You don’t have to settle for mundane workouts that don’t excite you. With a good frame of mind and a positive approach, you will have a lot of fun. Take a new attitude toward fitness by applying these helpful ideas.

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Associate professor of nutrition at the Univ. of Ottawa focuses her research on nutrition for athletes, athletic performance, weight management, the glycemic index, a measure of how carbohydrates affect blood sugar levels.


  1. So abdominal mats are bad you?
    Also what about correct technique for decline? and curved decline benches vs straight decline?

  2. do i have to sit up without hooking bar on my foot? military standard require us to fixate my foot on the bar,and do sit ups over 90s.
    if i do like the video, i think i cant make it

  3. i want to be atleast a quarter of what the incredible hulk is.

  4. if full sit up is bad.. then why is it in athlean x challenge?

  5. Glad I found this vid, now I know why my lower back hurts when I do sit-ups.

  6. what about abs exercises on the pull up bar does it hurt the back

  7. thanks
    failed my first try… I needed to do 32 and couldn't get pass 28 smh it feels like I am doing it wrong but I get another chance in two weeks

  8. mini Per says:

    how do you curl your butt under?

  9. Kent Berry says:

    Holy crap-nuggets, thanks for waking up my neighbors with your unnecessarily loud intro. Thanks for the info, though.

  10. I listened to the video and stopped anchoring my feet. My backed stopped shearing the discs, but my spine still hurts when doing these sit ups. What could be doing this? Weak abs?

  11. Oh my gosh yes, this is vital information here! I damaged my lower back doing exactly what Jeff says NOT to do here. I couldn't walk properly for an entire week. Say no to anterior, and yes to posterior while performing sit-ups. The feet inclination advice is also crucial. 10/10 most instructive video on sit-ups.

  12. yeah but i need to do as many sit ups as possible in 2 min so anchoring my feet through the whole rep will help me a ton.

  13. What about straight leg sit ups? Are they any good?

  14. can you please give me a trick to not get dizzy when doing sit ups…

  15. Awesome, your videos are the only fitness videos I trust. Thank you, you have hlped me a lot.

  16. Tried watching a few times but kept drifting off…decided I just won't do sit ups.

  17. if you guys dont get this, look at the stripes of his pants, at 2:38 look how its incorrectly curled down compared to 2:05 where its more launching out. From my experience is, usually most people start out right and go into anterior tilt after a couple reps bc it starts to get harder. Starting off, just keep checking whether you are doing it right every single crunch.

  18. Is doing hanging knee or leg lifts better than this exercise?
    Or even toes to bar?

  19. as always, great job Jeff

  20. Ibnu azorb says:

    how bout decline sit ups

  21. Bloo TooT says:

    when ur in the military they don't use foam mats

  22. Hey quick question…my hips noticbly make a popping on the decline of a sit up…any tips to fix this?

  23. Asfaw RUAN says:

    u should lock your hands

  24. I have light legs or my leg weight is way out of proportion to my upper body. Always been this way even when I was very thin in high school. I have never in my life been able to accomplish an unassisted sit-up and have always felt thigh activation. I even bought and adjusted a Roman chair. I might do 100 sit-ups and feel only tightness at the upper quads. I'm going to try mentally focusing on just the abs, but it's very hard and I'm not sure if that's even the problem.

  25. Bloo TooT says:

    but I'm skinny and this hurts my tailbone

  26. Thanks for posting this Jeff. Love your videos. I am an Army vet and from experience I can tell you, the military screws up more hips and shoulders then any other organization out there. I joined in 2006, and every sit up I did caused a popping in my left hip, and I would get knots in my groin area (upper thigh strain). I thought it was a leg problem, until I did this pelvic technique. Nearly ten years later I did a proper sit up for the first time. Every kid considering joining the military should watch these videos, and i bet the "Special Tactics" program you have will probably be a good idea as well. The VA could save a lot of tax money by training soldiers correctly, as I know hip and low back problems make up a lot of VA patient benefits.

  27. criixt says:

    whats a good ab workout for us skinny guys and where parts of our lower back spine bones are much closer to the surface of our skin, i tried laying pads on theground but the my hip and spine just digs through the pad and makes contact with the floor, fucking painful

  28. This was an excellent illustration with the stripe on your pants, very much appreciated. Thank you! I learned something for life.

  29. K Bella says:

    Awesome, Thank you! ??

  30. this made a lot of sense to me, thanks

  31. Jeff, but don't you go from anterior to posterior tilt during a dumbell swing? are those bad then?

  32. Great work……….thank you…………please carry on the good works

  33. 1:47 I've always thought that too! It makes me wonder why some people think a butt wink is okay? Is the correct way of looking at a butt wink also jeff?

  34. I'm not english, so i haven't understood well how i have to do that exercise!
    Can yuo tell me if what i am going to write is correct or not, or if i missed something?
    – the feet have to be fully layed the ground, and make no angle
    – in the starting position the bottom back don't have to be on the ground, but there has to be some space between

    And a question! it is incorrect if i raise a little the feet while i'm going up? i can't just keep my feet stopped!

    thank you and sorry for my english 🙂

  35. Thanks for posting this. It never ceases to amaze me how many people post exercise videos – and the sheer volume of them – that are wrong and/or bad for you. I just wince when I think of the damage so many people are doing to their joints/cartilage/muscle from so many of these exercises done improperly. You don't need to do 50 million reps of an exercise if you're doing them correctly to begin with. Work smarter, not harder.

  36. mer meh says:

    Pretty gay intro

  37. Thanks so much for this. I've been looking for weeks for this for this exact reason. I'm so sick of people just telling me to forget it because it's bad. I can't forget it when it is part of the test and training. So relieved, especially to not feel like I have to weight or hook my feet.

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