A constant debate among fitness professionals concerns the effectiveness and safety of the sit-up. Sit-ups can be very effective in building your abs to gain the "six pack," but for people with low back problems and a weak core to begin with, they can pose a tremendous safety issue. An effective alternative would be the negative sit-up. The negative sit-up is simply a sit-up performed in reverse.

How to perform a negative sit-up

  • Start by sitting with your knees bent and feet firmly on the ground, just as you would be if you had just performed a regular sit-up.
  • Place your hands either on your chest or, to increase the degree of difficulty, behind your ears and slowly lower your torso back onto to the ground.
  • Try to "roll"your spine down onto the ground starting with your lower back and slowly moving your mid and then upper back to the ground.
  • Tempo is the key to building the strength in your abdominals- try using a 5- to 10-second count when lowering yourself to the ground.
  • Have a partner pull you back into the starting position or use your arms to get back up - it's the down phase that we want to focus on here.


  • If you find you cannot roll each part of your back down, try starting with a quarter of the movement and come back up.
  • Do not hold your breath during this exercise - breathe out as you lower yourself down.
  • This exercise will fatigue your abs quickly, so if you can only do 2 to 3 repetitions, don't be discouraged!
  • If you feel pain in your lower back, STOP! Try doing this slow movement with a crunch first to build more core strength.

Doing the negative sit-up will help you build a stronger, toned midsection.

Rob Tubajon of Endorphin Junkies, 
in association with the MediResource Clinical Team