The Perfect Situp
If you want to better strengthen your abs when doing situps, do them with your feet unrestrained, according to a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.
British researchers had members of the British Army do situps and curlups in a variety of ways, including with feet restrained (i.e., someone holding them or hooking them under a stationary object) and feet unrestrained. The subjects did each exercise for 2 minutes while the researchers measured muscle activity in abdominal muscles as well as the rectus femoris, a quadriceps muscle that acts as a hip flexor.
The researchers found that muscle activity in the rectus femoris was greatest when the Army members did situps with their feet restrained; that is, the hip flexor muscle did more of the work in this type of exercise than when the subjects did situps with their feet unrestrained. As the researchers point out, the feet-restrained method has also been shown to increase forces in the lower back, potentially leading to injury there. Situps with feet unrestrained, the researchers concluded, are therefore better for strengthening abdominal muscles.
This story originally appeared on RunnersWorld.com.
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