Weighted Sit-Ups

Weighted Sit-Ups (How To, Benefits and Alternatives)

Sit-ups are one of the tried and true ‘classic’ core exercises. Weighted Sit-Ups is a popular variation that increases the challenge by adding a weighted implement to the exercise. This usually comes in the form of either a weight plate or a dumbbell.

In this guide, I’m going to teach you how to properly do Weighed Sit-ups, explain what muscles they work, the benefits and even provide a few alternatives.

How To Do Weighted Sit-Ups

Equipment Needed

  • Weight Plate, Dumbbell or Kettlebell

Muscles Worked

  • Rectus Abdominis
  • Obliques
  • Hip Flexors
  • Transverse Abdominis

Step-by-Step Instructions

  • Grab a plate or dumbbell, lay on your back, knees bent, feet flat on the floor.
  • Hold the weight tight against the chest if possible.
  • Sit up by contracting and flexing the abdominals
  • Lower back down to the floor and repeat

Coaching Points

The biggest mistake I see with Weighted Sit-Ups is holding the weight too low, down towards the stomach. Holding the weight too low takes away much (if not all) of the added resistance that the weight is supposed to be providing.

Benefits of Weighted Sit-ups

Weighted sit-ups can bring some solid benefits to your training routine:

  1. Enhanced Core Strength: The added resistance increases the demand on your core muscles, leading to greater strength gains.
  2. Improved Muscle Definition: Regularly performing weighted sit-ups can help in developing more defined abs.
  3. Increased Power: This exercise can boost your explosive power, useful for sports and activities requiring sudden bursts of movement.
  4. Versatility in Training: You can easily adjust the weight to match your strength level, which makes it a versatile exercise for progression.
  5. Better Functional Strength: A stronger core from weighted sit-ups can improve your performance in other lifts and daily activities.
  6. Progression and Challenge: As you get stronger, adding weight keeps the exercise challenging, preventing plateaus in your training.

Remember, though, proper form is key to reap these benefits and avoid injury. Keep your movements controlled and avoid straining your neck or back.

How Many Reps?

The ideal number of reps and sets for weighted sit-ups can vary depending on your goals and experience level. Here’s a general guideline:

  1. For Beginners:
    • Sets: 2-3
    • Reps: 8-12
    • Focus on mastering the form with lighter weight or even just body weight at first.
  2. For Intermediate Level:
    • Sets: 3-4
    • Reps: 10-15
    • Slightly increase the weight to challenge your muscles more.
  3. For Advanced:
    • Sets: 4-5
    • Reps: 12-20 or even higher
    • You can handle more volume and weight at this stage.

Common Mistakes

There are a couple of common mistakes people often make when doing weighted sit-ups:

  1. Pulling the Neck: A lot of folks tend to pull their neck forward with their hands, especially as they get tired. This can strain the neck muscles and spine. Focus on keeping your neck neutral and using your core to lift your body.
  2. Jerking Movements: Using a quick, jerking motion to sit up, often to lift heavier weight, compromises form and can lead to back injury. The movement should be controlled and steady, engaging the core muscles throughout the range of motion.

Avoiding these mistakes will help ensure you’re getting the most out of your weighted sit-ups while minimizing the risk of injury.

Weighted Sit-Up Alternatives

If you’re unable to do Sit-ups, here are a few alternatives that you may be able to use as a substitution. Both of these exercises can also be done with or without an added weight for extra resistance.


The simplest alternative to Sit-ups is to switch them out for Crunches. If you’re struggling with Sit-ups, Crunches is the first thing I would suggest as a replacement until you’re ready to progress back to Sit-ups.

Start laying on your back as well, knees bent at 90 and feet off the floor. Instead of sitting all the way up, simply crunch up and squeeze the abs.

Suitcase Crunches

Another alternative for Sit-ups is Suitcase Crunches. These are a little more difficult than regular Crunches, so they can be used as a progression towards doing full Sit-ups.

Instead of laying on your back, balance up on your butt and bring your knees and chest together at the top and then extend out – keeping back and feet off the ground throughout the entire set.

free daily workouts
Horton Barbell Logo 3

Get Shredded… For Free

Get a free workout Monday through Friday, posted right here on Horton Barbell. These workouts are designed to help you get strong, in shape and look great at the beach!

More Links and Info

For more ab exercises with step-by-step instructions, check out the Core Section of the Exercise Library

Featured Image Credit: (javi_indy / shutterstock.com)

Share This

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *