Bench Sit Up: How To Do, Muscles Worked

Are you looking for a simple yet effective exercise to tone your abs? Look no further than bench sit-ups.

Bench sit-ups are one of the most popular abdominal exercises, and for good reason. They’re easy to do, work well, and can be adjusted to suit your needs. It is a staple in many fitness routines because of its simplicity and effectiveness.

In this blog post, we will explore the following:

  • What muscles bench sit-ups target
  • The main benefits
  • Proper form and technique
  • Common mistakes to avoid
  • Variations
  • Sample workouts routines

What is Bench Sit Ups

The bench sit up is one of the most core exercises that specifically targets the rectus abdominis, obliques, and hip flexors.

Unlike a regular sit up, which requires you to lie on the ground, the bench sit up requires you to sit on an exercise bench with your feet planted firmly under the foot pad.

The bench sit up forces you to rely on your core strength to complete the movement without stability of your feet on the floor. This leads to a greater activation and contraction of the abdominal muscles in comparison to a conventional sit up.

The bench sit up is a workout that helps you strengthen your core muscles and get a strong six-pack abs.

Bench Sit Ups Other Names: Incline sit-ups and decline sit-ups.

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Muscles Worked During Bench Sit Ups

Sit-ups, whether performed on the floor or an incline bench, primarily target the abs muscles.

Primary Muscles Worked

  • Rectus Abdominis: This is the main muscle targeted by sit-ups. It’s referred to as the “six-pack” muscle.
  • External Obliques: These muscles are located on the sides of the abdomen. Adding a twisting motion to the sit-up makes them work harder.

Secondary Muscles (Synergists and Stabilizers):

  • Hip Flexors (Iliopsoas, Rectus Femoris): These muscles assist in the movement, especially when lifting the torso from a more reclined position.
  • Internal Obliques: Located under the external obliques, these muscles assist in trunk flexion and rotation.
  • Tensor Fasciae Latae: assist in stabilizing the pelvis during the movement.
  • Transverse Abdominis: The deepest layer of the abdominal muscles, it acts as a stabilizer for the core and helps in maintaining intra-abdominal pressure.

Other Muscles

  • Quadriceps: Engaged as a stabilizer, especially if the feet are anchored during the sit-up.
  • The erector spinae in your lower back and the muscles in the posterior chain are involved.
Muscles Worked During Sit Ups

How To Do Flat Bench Sit Up

  1. Lie down on a flat bench and Secure your feet under the foot holders or have your workout partner hold them for you.
  2. Place your hands behind your head, cross them over your chest, or extend them out in front of you.
  3. Cross your arms over your chest or place your hands behind your head.
  4. Tighten your abdominal muscles and lift your upper body off the bench. Your aim should be to sit up fully.
  5. As you rise, ensure that you’re leading with your chest and not pulling your head forward. This will help avoid undue stress on the neck.
  6. Lift your body up until your upper body is completely vertical.
  7. Slowly lower your upper body back to the starting position
  8. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
Flat Bench Sit Up
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Tips For Proper Form

  • Engage Core: Always activate your core before initiating the movement.
  • Neck Alignment: Keep your neck in line with your spine; avoid pulling or straining it forward.
  • Controlled Motion: Use a smooth, controlled movement both during ascent and descent.
  • Lead with the Chest: Lift using your chest rather than leading with your head.
  • Breathing: Exhale as you lift and inhale as you lower.
  • Hand Placement: Lightly touch the back of your head with your fingers without pulling, or cross your arms over your chest.
  • Feet Anchored: Keep feet flat and anchored, but ensure the effort is from the core, not the hip flexors.
  • Full Range: Aim for a full range of motion, from a flat back position to sitting upright.
  • Focus on quality over quantity: It’s more beneficial to perform fewer sit-ups with proper form than many with poor form.
  • To increase the challenge: you can hold a weight plate or dumbbell on your chest or behind your head.
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Bench Sit Up Variations

Looking to add some variety to your ab workout? There are many different variations of bench sit-ups that you can incorporate into your routine to target different muscles and increase the difficulty of the exercise.

Target your abs from all angles and continually challenge your core with these effective bench sit up variations.

1. Decline Bench Sit Up

The decline bench sit-up is an advanced version of the traditional sit-up. It is performed on a bench that is set at a decline angle, which means that the head is lower than the feet when lying down.

This position makes the exercise harder because your abs muscles have to work harder because of the pull of gravity.

Many decline benches have an adjustable angle, which allows you to adjust the level.

Decline Bench Sit Up

How to Do

  1. Adjust the bench to your desired decline angle. The steeper the angle, the more challenging the exercise will be.
  2. Lie down on the bench with your ankles secured under the footpads.
  3. Your body should be aligned with the bench, head lower than your feet.
  4. Cross your arms over your chest, extend them in front of you, or place them lightly behind your head.
  5. Engage your core muscles and slowly lift your upper body towards your knees.
  6. Slowly lower your torso back down to the starting position in a controlled way.


  • If new to decline sit-ups, start with a slight decline. As you become stronger and more comfortable, you can increase the decline angle.
  • Keep your back straight throughout the exercise to avoid straining your lower back.

2. Twisting Bench Sit-Up

A decline sit-up bench positions your upper body at an angle so that it’s lower than your hips and thighs. It is a challenging exercise for developing the upper abs.

This position causes your body to work harder, since you have to work against gravity and through a wider range of motion.

It’s a great exercise for intermediate to advanced lifters because it is moderately challenging but very effective for its intended purpose.

Twisting sit up

How To Do It

  1. Sit on the decline bench, hook your feet under the pad, lean back, and position your hands behind your head.
  2. As you sit up, twist your torso, directing your right elbow toward your left knee.
  3. Reverse the motion and lower your torso to the starting position; during the next repetition, direct your left elbow toward your right knee.
  4. Keep repeating and alternating the side to which you twist your waist.


  • Keep your neck in a neutral position.
  • Use a slow, controlled motion to target the muscles. 

3. Weight Decline Bench Sit Up

Adding weight to the exercise increases the resistance and makes it more challenging. The extra weight makes the muscles work harder, which could make the abs stronger.

Weight decline bench sit-ups are also a great exercise for burning calories. The added weight increases the intensity of the exercise which increases the number of calories burned during the workout.

Weight Decline Bench Sit Up

How To Do

  1. Adjust the decline bench to an angle of between 30 and 45 degrees.
  2. Sit on the bench with your legs resting on the leg pads and your feet secured.
  3. Hold a weight against your chest or overhead.
  4. Tighten your abdominal muscles and lift your upper body off the bench.
  5. Lift your body up until your upper body is completely vertical.
  6. Lower your body back down to the starting position.
  7. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.


  • Don’t rush the exercise. Take your time and control the movement.
  • Start with a weight that is challenging but allows you to maintain good form. 

Incline Bench Sit Up Vs Decline Bench Sit Up

Both incline and decline bench sit-ups are variations of the classic sit-up, performed on an adjustable bench.

The terms “incline sit-ups” and “decline sit-ups” are often used interchangeably, but they describe the same exercise. Both refer to performing a sit-up on an inclined or declined bench.

  • When you’re lying on the bench with your head higher than your feet, you’re on an “incline.”
  • When you’re lying on the bench with your head lower than your feet, you’re on a “decline.”

The common term used in most fitness circles for sit-ups performed with the head lower than the feet (making the exercise harder due to gravity) is “decline sit-ups.” The bench used for this is often called a decline bench.


What is the hardest form of sit-up?

Weight decline sit-up is hardest form of sit-up. The resistance and challenge of this variation are increased by holding a weight against your chest or overhead while performing the exercise on a decline bench.

How many bench sit-ups a day?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question. It depends on your fitness level.

  • For beginners – Start with 1-2 sets of 10-15 reps, 2-3 times per week.
  • For intermediate – Build up to 2-3 sets of 15-20 reps, 3 times per week.
  • For advanced – Can do 3-4 sets of 20-30 reps, 3-4 times per week.


The bench sit up is clearly an effective exercise for sculpting strong, defined abdominals and improving core stability.

However, it is important to use proper form and technique to avoid injury and get the most out of the exercise.

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