How do I do a sit up?

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
To get a six-pack abdomen you can do abdominal crunches or sit ups.

Primary muscle groups worked: Rectus abdominus and transverse abdominus (midsection, stomach, your "six-pack"!)

Starting position: Lie on your back on the floor with your feet braced against the wall, your hips and knees bent at about a 60- to 90-degree angle. Point your toes outward slightly (10 and 2 o'clock). Place your hands behind your head, keeping your elbows pointing out to the sides, or cross your arms over your chest.

Action: As you exhale, curl your head and shoulders up off the floor until your shoulder blades clear the floor and your abdominals are contracted as fully as is comfortable. At the same time, pull your navel down toward your spine so that the abdominals appear flat or hollowed and do not bulge upward. Hold for one count at the top of the motion as you exhale any remaining air. Slowly roll back down, one vertebra at a time, as you inhale. Stop just short of the starting position, so that your abdominals do not completely relax before your next repetition. This is one exercise where you will want to do more than 12 at a time. Do these until you feel the slow burn in your abdominal muscles.


Do not pull on your neck with your hands. Keep your elbows out wide and hands just lightly supporting the head. It is normal to feel some tension in your neck during this exercise. After all, your neck muscles have to lift your chin. Your chin should not be pointed up towards the ceiling or tucked excessively. Keep your head in line with your spine.


  • Your feet may be placed on the floor instead of the wall. Or, you may place your feet higher on the wall in a straight-leg position.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
To perform an abdominal or stomach crunch, also known as a sit up, lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Put your hands lightly on your ears. Using your abdominal muscles, crunch up about 30 degrees from the floor. You can add variety and hit different parts of your mid-section with these crunch variations:
  • At the same time you crunch your body up, curl your legs off the ground toward your head, and squeeze your belly button toward the floor. This will engage all three pairs of muscles-the upper with the upper crunch, the lower with the leg pull, and the middle with the squeeze.
  • Try doing crunches with your back flat on an exercise ball.
  • Lie flat on the floor and lift your knees toward your chest. In that move, you'll use more of the lower region of your abdominals.


  1. Lie on the floor with knees bent, feet flat on floor and toes shoulder-width apart and pointing straight ahead.
  2. Place arms across the chest or behind your ears.


  1. Draw abs in, brace and tuck chin.
  2. Slowly crunch upper body forward, bringing the lower rib cage toward hips.
  3. Slowly lower upper body to the floor, maintaining a chin-tucked position.
  4. Repeat as instructed.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.