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Great Abs Exercises – 10 Sit Up Variations to Build a Solid Six Pack and Core

A strong core is essential for Crossfit and always comes first, but six pack abs are also fun.

strong core is essential for any athlete, six pack abs are not – but they are fun. Crossfit always puts function first, unlike bodybuilding for example, which generally prioritises aesthetics over fitness. The former is a healthy approach, because your body becomes defined by what it can do, and not just by how it looks.

In the end it all comes down to what you are training for, and what goals you would like to reach. Whatever your targets, these 8 sit up exercises will help you to forge a strong core and six pack abs. Remember that without the right nutrition, you will not see or experience any meaningful results.

Always keep your core training varied in order to continually test and improve your body. 

Add these variations into your training. 

1. WEIGHTED SIT UP

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and pointed to the ceiling. Hold a weight at the center of your chest (but not resting on your chest).
  2. Curl up without letting your chin touch your chest. The weight might move forward (toward your midsection), but make sure that you’re holding it above you the entire time so that you feel the full weight.
  3. Lower back down with control.

Tip

Start with a 5-pound medicine ball or dumbbell and work up from there.

2. RAISED LEG CRUNCH

  1. Start on your back with your hips and knees bent at 90-degree angles. You shins should be parallel to the floor. Bring your hands behind your head
  2. Holding your legs in place, exhale and crunch up without letting your chin drop into your chest
  3. Inhale as you lower back down

Tip

For an added challenge, lift your butt off the ground as your head and shoulders come up — as long as you don’t rely on the momentum of the move to raise and lower.

3. FROG CRUNCH

  1. Start seated with your knees bent out in front of you. Lean back slightly so your torso is at a 45-degree angle to the floor and your shins are parallel to the floor.
  2. Keep your abs engaged as you straighten your legs and simultaneously bring your arms out to the side.
  3. Bring your arms and legs back in to the starting position.
  4. Continue pulsing like this as you hold your core steady.

4. REVERSE CRUNCH

While you can’t technically spot reduce belly fat on your lower abdomen, you can lower your overall body fat, which will reveal your underlying muscle. Pair this exercise with a healthy diet and a good cardio workout schedule

  1. Start on your back with your hips and knees bent at 90-degree angles. You shins should be parallel to the floor. Place your arms alongside your body with your palms facing down.
  2. Exhale as you contract your lower abdominal muscles to lift your butt and lower back off the ground.
  3. Inhale as you release back to the starting position.

Tip

Make sure this move is focused on your abs and that you’re not pressing into the ground with your hands.

5. BICYCLE CRUNCH

This crunch variation is popular for a reason — you can challenge your balance and coordination while targeting your mid and lower abs and obliques all at the same time. You might also feel this one in your hips and thighs.

  1. Start lying flat on your back with your hands behind your head. Contract your lower abs to raise your legs a few inches off the ground.
  2. Twist your torso and bend your left knee so that your right elbow crosses your body and reaches toward your left knee.
  3. Now switch and twist to the other side so that your left elbow reaches toward your bent right knee.
  4. Keep alternating sides without tucking your chin toward your chest.

6. SIDE CRUNCH

  1. Start in the classic crunch position lying on your back with your knees bent. If your lower back is flexible and strong enough, you can drop your knees to one side. If not, stay in the standard starting position, crossing one foot on top of the opposite knee.
  2. Contract your abs and lift your head and shoulders off the floor, twisting to the side of your bent knees (or just twisting opposite elbow to raised knee).
  3. Lower back down and complete all reps on one side before switching sides.

Tip

Since there are two methods of side crunches, choose the one that doesn’t hurt your lower back.

7. WIDE LEG SIT UP

  1. Begin seated with your legs stretched apart
  2. Lower yourself down so that your back is flat on the floor and your arms reach overhead.
  3. Reach up and forward as you pull yourself back up to seated with the strength of your abs.

Tip

Even if your hips aren’t super flexible to begin with, you can still get the benefits of this variation and work up to full flexibility over time.

8. RUNNING MAN SIT UP

  1. Lie flat on the floor with your hands behind your head.
  2. Exhale as you sit up, twisting your torso and bending your right knee so that you left elbow crosses over your right knee.
  3. Drop all the way back down to the start before repeating on the other side.

9. DRAGON FLAG SIT UP

  1. Lie on a bench with your arms bent and your elbows by your ears so that you can grip the top of the bench.
  2. Contract your abs and raise your legs up until your upper body naturally curls with it. If your ab strength allows, keep raising until your feet are over your shoulders.
  3. Lower your entire body down in a straight plank until you’re back to the start. You may need to roll your back out some of the way if you’re unable to do the full version.

Tip

Though the full version of the dragon flag requires you raise and lower your entire body from shoulders to feet as a single plank, you might need to modify until you build up core strength.

10. MEDICINE BALL V UPS

If regular V-ups weren’t challenging enough for you, add a medicine ball into the mix and you’ll really start to feel your abs fire up.

  1. Lie on your back, holding a medicine ball with both hands, arms extended over your head.
  2. On an exhale, lift both your legs and entire torso off the ground as you reach the medicine ball toward your toes.
  3. Bring the ball back over your head as you lower your back and legs to the ground.

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