Core exercises that aren’t sit-ups

The real deal on sit-ups 👇

In an ideal scenario, you want to be able to move your muscles, even your core, in all the ways. That includes flexion, extension, rotation, anti-rotation, lateral, frontal, and transverse planes.

When most people think of core exercises, they think of sit-ups and maybe planks. And if for some reason you can’t do either of those exercises (or think you can’t do them), then you can’t train your core. Right?? Wrong!

Sit-ups are a great example of a flexion exercise. That means you’re bending and shortening the muscles. They’re also functional. I mean, how else do you jump out of bed or off the floor quickly? Does that mean you should do 100 of them a day? Probably not. Work on a well rounded core routine that includes exercises for each of the movement patterns and planes of motion mentioned above.

Sit-ups and your pelvic floor

So why do sit-ups get a bad rep when it comes to core and pelvic floor health? Probably because people haven’t yet learned how to manage the pressure inside their abdomen and end up straining and pushing down into their pelvic floor or out into their diastasis when they sit-up.

That’s a pressure issue. Not a sit-up issue.

What you can try to help reduce the pressure:

  • Counter weight – A weighted sit-up might sound harder, but it can actually make the sit-up easier to perform. Hold a small weight (maybe a 10lb dumbbell) in your hands as you extend them above your head. When you come up into the sit-up, the weight will help you gain momentum and make moving forward easier.
  • Play with your breath – Play around with your breathing patterns to reduce the pressure. One of the easiest breathing patterns to start with is to take a diaphragmatic inhale while you’re laying down and exhale (by blowing through your mouth like you’re blowing out a birthday candle) as you sit-up. Does that help reduce the coning in your abs or the pressure on your prolapse?

If you’re able to do sit-ups without symptoms, great. If you’re still experiencing symptoms after making adjustments, try seeing if you can build up your core strength a little more first by playing around with some other core exercises.

Core exercises that aren’t sit-ups

Lateral lunge with press

Overhead carries

Suitcase carry

Ball slams and lateral ball slams

Bear crawl

Pallof press

Woodchop (this rotation exercises is also fun to do by slamming a ball into the wall at your side)

I could sit here all day and list core exercises. This list doesn’t even include movements you can do if you have access to some equipment.

So try sit-ups if you want. Or do a different exercise if sit-ups don’t feel good. There’s definitely no shortage to choose from.

If you want to work on your core without making your diastasis or prolapse symptoms worse, FIT Core Restore is for you. Get the mobility, core and pelvic floor progressions, and strength programming you need to help you enjoy lifting (and living) again without worrying about your abs or vag.

If you want to take a deep dive on more core and pelvic floor topics, join my weekly Q&A email list. It may or may not also be the only place to snag a discount on programs. So run, don’t walk, to join.

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Hi friend! I'm Casey

I help people whose abs and vaginas are as cooperative as a 2-year-old at naptime return to lifting & living in a way that feels good again—and maybe even train them to behave along the way.

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