Certain aspects of fitness are polarizing for one reason or another. For example, running is one of those sports that people usually seem to either love or detest. Then, there are aspects of fitness training that are polarizing amongst exercise physiologists, trainers, and coaches in terms of whether they are the most effective ways to train or safe to use.
Sit-ups seem to be polarizing on both fronts. Some people love doing sit-ups, while others hate this traditional ab exercise and would like nothing more than for it to fade away along with all of the memories of sit-up tests from PE classes back in school. Well, what about taking on a 30-Day Sit-Up Challenge?
Even amongst fitness professionals and exercise researchers, the benefits and safety of sit-ups are sometimes at the center of heated debates. The US Army, which included sit-ups in the Army Physical Fitness Test, abandoned this exercise in 2020 in the updated Army Combat Fitness Test.
With that said, sit-ups are well known to strengthen your abs and are still used as a viable ab exercise. Therefore, we’ve created a 30-day sit-up challenge for beginners that not only honors this traditional exercise but also includes other bodyweight ab exercises to balance out your sit-up training.
The result? The best of both worlds: a safe, effective ab-strengthening program with an achievable and impressive goal.
In this guide, we will cover:
- What Is the 30-Day Sit-Up Challenge For Beginners?
- Why Does the 30-Day Sit-Up Challenge Include Other Exercises In Addition to Sit-Ups?
- How to Do a Sit-Up
- Common Form Mistakes With Sit-Ups
- The 30-Day Sit-Up Challenge for Beginners
- Exercise Instructions for the 30-Day Sit-Up Challenge
Let’s get started!
What Is the 30-Day Sit-Up Challenge for Beginners?
The 30-Day Sit-Up Challenge is a 30-day workout program that focuses on sit-ups, crunches, and other bodyweight ab exercises with the goal of getting you to be able to complete 100 sit-ups in a row by the end of 30 days.
Why Does the 30-Day Sit-Up Challenge Include Other Exercises In Addition to Sit-Ups?
As mentioned, traditional full sit-ups are not necessarily the most effective ab exercise, and there is some evidence to suggest that they can increase the risk of hip flexor strains. Therefore, we have also included several other bodyweight exercises that safely and effectively target your abs and may help you perform sit-ups with the ideal form more easily.
How to Do a Sit-Up
The key to ensuring that sit-ups are both safe and effective hinges on performing them properly. Focus on mastering your technique before you try to increase the number of sit-ups you can do without stopping.
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor. Ensure your feet are shoulder-width apart and pointed straight ahead.
- Cross your arms over your chest or place your hands behind your ears, gently cradling your head.
- Inhale, contracting your abs to raise shoulder blades and torso all the way up until you are upright.
- Slowly lower your torso back to the starting position.
Common Form Mistakes With Sit-Ups
There are a couple of things to be mindful of when you are performing sit-ups. In order to reap the benefits of the exercise, you need to:
- Use your abs—not momentum—to lift your torso up. Try not to hook your feet under anything, as this will encourage you to use your hip flexors and yank your body upward rather than engaging your abdominals.
- The other thing to be careful with is pulling on your neck. If you place your hands behind your head, allow your head to lay lightly on your fingers. Do not use your hands to yank or pull on your neck to drag your head up.
- Finally, don’t let gravity do all of the work on the way down. Engage your abs to lower your body in a controlled manner.
The 30-Day Sit-Up Challenge for Beginners
(right click the image to save and print this Challenge, or scroll to the end of the article for a text version)
|15 reverse crunches
|30 bicycle crunches (15 reps per side)
|2 x 20 sit-ups with 30 seconds rest in between sets
|20 alternating toe touches (10 reps per side)
|15 double toe touches
|20 windshield wipers (10 reps per side)
|25 reverse crunches
|50 bicycle crunches (25 reps per side)
|2 x 25 sit-ups with 30 seconds rest in between sets
|2 x 30 alternating toe touches (15 reps per side per set) with 30 seconds rest in between sets
|20 double toe touches
|2 x 24 windshield wipers (12 reps per side) with 30 seconds rest in between sets
|25 double crunches
|2 x 40 bicycle crunches (20 reps per side)
|2 x 40 sit-ups with 30 seconds rest in between sets
|2 x 50 alternating toe touches (25 reps per side per set) with 30 seconds rest in between sets
|25 double toe touches
|3 x 24 windshield wipers (12 reps per side) with 30 seconds rest in between sets
|2 x 25 double crunches with 30 seconds rest in between sets
|2 x 50 bicycle crunches (25 reps per side)
|2 x 50 sit-ups with 30 seconds rest in between sets
|3 x 50 alternating toe touches (25 reps per side per set) with 30 seconds rest in between sets
|30 double toe touches
|2 x 30 windshield wipers (15 reps per side) with 30 seconds rest in between sets
|50 double crunches
Exercise Instructions for the 30-Day Sit-Up Challenge
Alternating Toe Touches
The alternating toe touch targets the entire abdominal wall (lower abs, transverse abdominals, external obliques, and internal obliques) in a single, dynamic motion. Moreover, it’s a very functional core exercise because it trains the abs to work together across several planes of motion, which replicates real-life applications.
- Lie on your back with your legs straight up in the air perpendicular to the floor and your arms straight overhead on the floor above your head.
- Engage your abs to crunch up, reaching your right arm across your body to touch the left foot. Make sure you keep your shoulders pulled down away from your ears.
- Return to the starting position without fully touching your arms back down to the floor (just hovering above).
- Alternate sides with each rep.
Double Toe Touches
This move is similar to alternating toe touches, but it targets the rectus abdominis (“six-pack muscles”) like traditional sit-ups more than obliques.
- Follow the same steps you use with alternating toe touches, but lift both arms up simultaneously and crunch straight up, rather than to one side or the other.
Reverse crunches do a better job of targeting your lower abs than a full sit-up. It’s important to squeeze your lower abs and keep your low back in full contact with the ground (do not arch up).
- Lie on your back with your hips and knees each bent 90 degrees so that your thighs are perpendicular to the floor, your knees are up in the air flexed at 90 degrees, and your shins are in the air parallel to the floor.
- Place your arms by your sides and slowly lower both legs in tandem towards the ground, maintaining the bend in your knees and keeping your belly button drawn in towards your spine.
- Gently tap your heels on the floor and then lift your leg back up to the starting position and slightly beyond—upwards towards your chest—using only your abs.
Double crunches are like double duty: regular crunches and reverse crunches are performed simultaneously for double the work.
- Lie on your back with your knees and hips each bent at 90 degrees so that your shins are parallel to the floor up in the air.
- Place your fingertips at your temples or just behind your ears with your elbows flared out to the sides.
- Inhale, engaging your abs to crunch up and lift your shoulder blades off the floor while simultaneously bringing your knees up to your elbows by contracting your lower abs.
- Slowly return to the starting position.
This is a popular variation of crunches used to target your obliques.
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor shoulder-width apart and pointed straight ahead. Place your hands behind your ears or head and flare your elbows out to the side.
- Slowly bring your right elbow to your left knee, pulling the left knee in and rotating your upper body towards that knee while simultaneously extending the right leg out to hover above the floor.
- Switch sides in a continuous motion, transitioning smoothly.
This is one of the most challenging exercises in the 30-day sit-up challenge routine. It targets your obliques (“side abs”) and lower abs.
- Lie on your back with your legs flat on the floor and your arms at your side. For added difficulty, you can also fold your arms across your chest.
- Keeping your legs together and knees straight, use your abs to bring your legs up straight so that your body is in an L shape and your feet are up in the air, perpendicular to the floor. Your arms stay fixed in place.
- Lower your legs together as a unit towards the floor on the right side of your body.
- Hover, but don’t touch the floor.
- Raise back up to the top position and then lower to the left.
- Move in a slow and controlled manner.
Ready to give it a try? You can do it!
If you are looking for another type of challenge, we’ve got more to choose from: