Crunches are one of the most common exercises to train your abs, but many people find it difficult to do sit-ups without lifting their feet. It is incorrect form and needs to be corrected so that we can ensure that we are activating the core effectively.
Although we may see people putting their feet under something or having their feet held by a friend when doing sit-ups, this is not recommended. This changes the technique, so we have to rely more on the hip flexors to sit down, and it puts a lot of pressure on the lower back.
Why do we put our feet up?
There are several reasons why we cannot do sit-ups without keeping our feet on the ground. The best way to remedy it is knowing its origin.
Abdominal muscles are weak
One of the main reasons you can’t do crunches without lifting your feet is that you have weak abs. The abdominals are the muscles at the front of the midsection. They are responsible for keeping us upright and protecting our organs. They also play an important role in functions such as bending forward at the waist and sitting up.
If the abs aren’t strong enough to hold us, we’ll have a hard time keeping our feet on the ground as we go through a sitting motion. If we can’t crunch, we may also have weak hip flexors.
Overweight for abs
You may not be able to do sit-ups without lifting your feet if you carry a lot of extra weight around your waist but have smaller legs. This is because the weight of the body is not evenly distributed and the body cannot stay balanced while doing crunches.
Women with large breasts can also have similar problems. Being heavier at the top means there is more weight in your upper body that you have to lift. If the core isn’t strong enough to lift that extra weight unassisted, the feet can be lifted off the ground.
Although crunches are a relatively basic exercise, it’s easy to do them the wrong way. Common technical errors include pulling your neck if you keep your hands behind your head, keeping your feet too close to your buttocks, and arching your back too much.
Crunches are just like any other exercise: a flaw in form will usually cause the body to do something to compensate. With crunches, that could mean feet coming off the ground.
speed too fast
Speeding up the abs can keep us from focusing as much as we should on using proper form with each rep. We focus more on completing reps as quickly as possible and using momentum to sit up faster than properly activating the abs.
It’s easy to let technical issues, like feet off the ground, slide by when we focus more on quantity than quality.
Crunches with the feet anchored
If we try to do crunches without holding our feet (i.e. by placing them under a piece of furniture or having someone hold them) but can’t, we’ll go back to doing crunches with the feet hooked and we’ll be doing ourselves a disservice.
Doing feet-anchored crunches makes them more of a hip flexion exercise, and you’ll never get any of the core-strengthening benefits if you just do them this way. If we’re also not doing any other core work to strengthen our abs, we won’t be able to make them strong enough to do sit-ups without lifting our feet.
Is it bad to lift your feet when doing sit-ups?
Yes, even if they only go up a few inches, we lose balance, which means we won’t be able to complete the rep efficiently because we’re not allowing the abs to do most of the work.
We also force ourselves to use momentum by “rocking” the body as the feet touch and lift off the ground with each rep. Basically, we’ll just be using our legs to help sit up and lower back down to the ground, which means our abs won’t be doing their job.
Also, using too much momentum can cause you to hit your back against the ground every time you return to the starting position. This will become uncomfortable after a short time and can cause back pain.
Tips for doing sit-ups without lifting your feet
Although lifting your feet can be very common, there are a few tricks that can improve this crunch technique.
put your feet out more
One of the easiest ways to do sit-ups without lifting your feet is to move them out so they’re not as close to your buttocks. Depending on how long your legs are and how strong your abs are, you may need to place your feet further away from your buttocks.
This helps distribute your weight on the ground more evenly and keeps your whole body more balanced, making it easier for you to keep your feet down when doing crunches.
A butterfly crunch is when we let the soles of the feet touch and the knees open to the sides. Instead of crossing the arms over the chest or keeping the hands behind the head, we will normally touch the fingertips above the head while the back is on the ground and touch the feet when sitting.
When doing crunches in this position, we have less of a tendency to lift our feet because we open our hips more and put them in a more comfortable position.
Also, the thighs won’t prevent us from sitting up fully so we can move through a greater range of motion, which keeps the tension on the abs for longer. It also takes the hip flexors out of the equation so we can target the abs more effectively.
It’s easy to get out of shape when we try to move fast. Doing your crunches at a slower pace will allow you to focus on form and keeping your feet on the ground.
There are times when we may want to do the exercise as quickly as possible, for example if you are doing them in a CrossFit workout or trying to get as many reps as possible for a fitness test.
But if we’re doing them at the end of a workout to work on core strength, we’ll benefit from slowing them down. Not only will this help you keep your feet on the ground, but it will also ensure that you’re effectively engaging your abdominal muscles instead of targeting your hip flexors or straining your lower back.
bend the column
One cue that can help keep your feet on the ground during crunches is to think about bending your spine up one vertebra at a time instead of keeping your back completely flat. This will ensure that you don’t rely too much on your hip flexors to fully lift your torso, especially if you’re used to doing feet-anchored sit-ups.
This cue can also help you slow down your crunches so we can focus more on technique.
Strengthen the abs
Doing more sit-ups can help hone technique so we learn how to do them without lifting our feet. But they’re not the only core-strengthening exercise you can do, and you can also benefit from doing other abdominal exercises if your core is particularly weak.
Other great abdominal exercises that you can include in your routine are planks, press palof, knee raises, dead-bugs or bird-dog. As your core gets stronger, you’ll likely find that your ability to do sit-ups without lifting your feet improves.
Should we hold the feet?
Anchoring your feet when doing crunches is not recommended. Although this makes the exercise easier, it also reduces its effectiveness. Putting your feet under something or asking someone to hold them while doing crunches encourages us to use more of the hip flexors than the crunches. You’ll also likely feel your quads engage more as your legs push against the weight holding your feet down, and your abs won’t be doing as much of the work anymore.
Anchoring your feet when doing sit-ups also increases the likelihood of arching your back , which pulls on your spinal muscles. This can cause lower back discomfort or lead to muscle strains. However, there are some cases in which we may prefer to anchor our feet to do sit-ups.
For example, when we do sit-ups on a fitness test, someone will most likely hold our feet. If we are preparing for a test, practicing with someone holding our feet or putting them under something else will allow us to replicate the conditions in which we will undergo the test.