Abdominal and lumbar muscles strength gains using two types of sit-up exercises

Valter Di Salvo, A. Parisi, C. Buonomini, F. Iellamo, F. Pigozzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The effects of unsupported versus supported legs sit up exercises on the performance of low back muscles has received scanty attention. This aspect is of clinical relevance, since sit up exercises are also prescribed to prevent, or lessen back pain and often may result in a relief of painful symptoms. Accordingly, the specific aim of this study was to evaluate the improvement in lumbar, in addition to abdominal, muscles performance induced by unsupported as opposed to supported legs sit up exercises. 50 female physical education students were randomly divided into two groups (A and B) and assigned to a training program for abdominal muscles conditioning, three times a week for 4 weeks. Group A performed sit ups with bent, unsupported legs, whereas group B performed sit ups with straight supported legs. An isokinetic evaluation (FITNET) was carried out at baseline and after training to evaluate both abdominal and low back muscles performance, as assessed by the following measures: maximal torque (MT) total work (TW) and mean power (MP). After training the improvement in abdominal muscles performance was substantially similar in both experimental groups at either 85 deg/s and 160 deg/s. On the contrary, low back muscles performance increased significantly more in group A. In fact, MT, MP and TW all improved more in group A at both angular velocities. These results indicate that improvement in low back muscles performance is significantly greater when sit up exercises are performed with bent unsupported, rather than straight supported legs. These data could provide trainers and physical therapists with useful information for setting up more effective and tailored training programs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)303-315
Number of pages13
JournalBiology of Sport
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2002


  • Abdominal muscles
  • Low back muscles
  • Rehabilitation
  • Sit up exercises
  • Training

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Physiology
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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