Muscle Activation During Bent-Knee and Modified Sit-Ups

Sit-ups are a mainstay of abdominal conditioning. William Sullivan and colleagues evaluated abdominal and hip muscle activation by electromyography (EMG) during traditional bent-knee sit-ups and modified sit-ups. Traditional sit-ups resulted in the greatest activation of the rectus femoris (quad muscle that flexes the hip) and external obliques (side ab muscle), while the modified sit-up activated the rectus abdominis (six-pack muscle) best. Muscle activation, however, is only part of the picture. Isometric core exercises such as planks and side bridges might be a better way to develop core strength and stiffness because they build a more functional core and prevent back pain. (Journal Strength Conditioning Research, 29: 3472-3479, 2015; Journal Strength Conditioning Research 29: 1515-1526, 2015)

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