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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