Dr. Becky Maes - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Becky Maes

Are Sit Ups Bad For You?



Short answer

Yes, sit ups are bad for you, especially if you aren't doing them correctly. There are many alternatives that put less stress on your body.



Long answer

Originating from the military as an abdominal strengthening fitness routine, sit ups are a very common workout seen today. Unfortunately, many people do sit ups on a daily basis without recognizing how much stress they are putting on their back and neck. When flexing your back during a sit up, the vertebrae in your spine exhibits a huge amount of stress. A study done by Stuart McGill in 1995 shows that one sit up can put over 3,000 N of force (around 675 lbs.) on your spine. Doing this for a long time can eventually result in nerve damage, bulging / herniated discs, and compressed vertebrae. Another disadvantage of sit ups, is they only focus on your abs. Other alternatives to sit ups focus on your entire core (deep muscles in your back, abdomen, and pelvis area), which in turn helps your overall posture and offers protection to back injuries. So why not choose a healthier alternative that helps strengthen more of your core while saving your neck and spine?

Possible short-term side effects

  • stress on neck
  • stress on back

Possible long-term side effects

  • bulging or herniated discs
  • compressed vertebrae
  • nerve damage

Big are sit ups bad for you


  • can be done anywhere

Healthier alternatives

  • planks
  • leg raises
  • ab wheel rollouts
  • windshield wipers
  • cable crunches

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Written by Brendan Quigley | 12-27-2015

Written by Brendan Quigley
Suggest improvement or correction

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