How To Do Decline Sit-ups

Decline Sit-ups (How To, Benefits, Muscles Worked)

Are you ready to amp up your core workout? Allow me to introduce you to Decline Sit-ups.

As an experienced strength and conditioning coach, I’ve created this accessible guide to usher you through the ins and outs of this abdominal exercise.

I will explain the step-by-step process to execute the proper form, the benefits, the muscle groups you’ll be engaging, and some alternative exercises for when you’re keen on shaking things up a bit.

How To Do Decline Sit-ups

Equipment Needed

  • Decline Sit-up Bench

Muscles Worked

  • Rectus Abdominis
  • Obliques
  • Rectus Femoris
  • Psoas


  • Find a decline bench and secure your legs at the top end.
  • Lie down with your back flat against the bench.
  • Place your hands lightly behind your head or across your chest.
  • Keep your elbows wide and chin slightly tucked in.
  • Engage your core and lift your upper body towards your knees.
  • Keep the movement smooth and controlled, avoiding any jerking motions.
  • Reach a point where your torso is almost upright or as far as your flexibility allows.
  • Pause for a moment and feel the contraction in your abs.
  • Slowly lower your upper body back to the starting position.
  • Keep your core engaged throughout the descent.
  • Perform the desired number of repetitions while maintaining form and control.
  • Exhale as you lift your upper body.
  • Inhale as you return to the starting position.

Coaching Points

Here are three coaching tips to enhance the effectiveness and safety of Decline Sit-ups:

Maintain a Neutral Spine

It’s essential to keep a neutral spine throughout the movement to prevent any strain on the lower back. Avoid arching your back or tucking your chin to your chest; instead, aim for a slight chin tuck to maintain alignment.

Control is Key

The effectiveness of Decline Sit-ups largely depends on a controlled movement, especially on the way down. Resist gravity, and take it slow as you lower your body to engage your core muscles thoroughly.

Breath Mindfully

Proper breathing can significantly impact your performance. Exhale as you lift your body up to help engage the core, and inhale on your way down to prepare for the next repetition.

Benefits of Decline Sit-ups

Decline Sit-ups provide a ton of benefits including:

  1. Enhanced Core Strength:
    • Decline Sit-ups target the entire core region, helping to build stronger abdominal muscles, which are crucial for overall stability and posture.
  2. Increased Difficulty:
    • The decline angle adds an extra level of challenge compared to flat sit-ups, pushing your muscles to work harder and potentially leading to faster strength gains.
  3. Better Balance and Stability:
    • By strengthening the core, Decline Sit-ups contribute to better balance and stability, which can be beneficial in daily activities as well as sports performance.

Decline Sit-up Alternatives

Don’t have a Decline Sit-up Bench? Here are a couple of exercises you may be able to use as a replacement:

(Need more options? Here are my favorite Decline Sit-up alternatives.)

Leg Raises

Leg Raises on a Bench

Why: Leg raises are a fantastic alternative as they focus on the lower part of the rectus abdominis and the hip flexors, similar to decline sit-ups. They also promote core stabilization and control, which are crucial for overall core strength and functionality.

Russian Twists

Why: Russian Twists provide a rotational movement that challenges the obliques intensely, akin to the engagement they receive in decline sit-ups. Additionally, this exercise helps enhance core endurance and stability, which are beneficial for athletic performance.

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More Links and Info

Want to see more guides like this? Make sure to check out the Core Section of my Exercise Library. There you’ll find dozens of core exercises, all with complete detailed instructions.

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