Expansion Sit-Backs – Another Amazingly Effective Abdominal Exercise
There are literally hundreds of abdominal exercise you can choose from.
Not only that, most ab exercises have multiple variations which allow
for progression through increasing levels of difficulty. With such a
wide range of exercise to choose from it’s a shame that so many people
keep repeating the same boring workouts over and over again.
If you’re not changing your exercises regularly (continually challenging
yourself with more advanced movements as your strength increases), then
you’re on your way to staleness, boredom and progress plateaus. If you
want to keep improving your abs, week after week, then here is another
new abdominal exercise to add to your repertoire: Expansion Sit Backs.
I have had advised against over-dependence on the traditional sit up for
many years. Regular sit ups put too much pressure on your low back by
using your hip flexors and hamstrings to perform almost 2/3 of the work.
This over-tightens these muscles, pulling your pelvis forward and
eventually leading to low back pain.
If you want a six pack, take a pass on the standard sit up, if for no
other reason, than because there are better choices.
If you could swap out your old sit ups with a new exercise that could
minimize hip flexor and hamstring involvement, maximize abdominal
contraction and develop better abs without low back pain, would you do
it? Of course you would. And I have just the exercise for this – the
Expansion Sit Back. This exercise is not only a favorite of mine, it’s
also backed up by many EMG studies that compare hip flexor and abdominal
activation. The latest study coming out of Canada indicated that this
exercise produced the greatest abdominal activation while minimizing
Just one last bit of background before I show you how it’s done. I first
learned of the Expansion Sit Back when I was wrestling in college. I was
fanatic about finding exercise programs that would improve my wrestling
strength and ability. One day while browsing through the college
library, I found a book titled Maximum Performance by Lawrence
Moorhouse, the famed exercise kinesiologist from UCLA. This book was a
gold mine of information and ahead of its time. Back then there weren’t
many conditioning books, tapes or DVD’s, there was no Internet and Jane
Fonda was the rage. I read this book one night and came up with my own
wrestling conditioning program. A part of this program was the Expansion
Sit Back. This is over 25 years ago and I still consider it a good as
gold exercise to this day.
An Expansion Sit Back when performed correctly will strengthen the
entire abdominal wall, not just your rectus abdominis (the six pack abs
muscles). It also minimizes hip flexor action. You will find this
exercise challenging and worthwhile as your abdominal core becomes toned
and sharp. Please do not over do it. Take your time – that’s how it
How to perform the Expansion Sit Back and its 4 progressive variations.
Starting Position: Sit comfortably on the floor with your knees bent,
feet and back on the floor. Keep this neutral posture position during
the exercise. Gently place your tongue on the roof of your mouth (this
stabilizes your cervical spine) and tilt your chin toward your chest a
Do not hook your heels or feet under any piece of furniture or have them
held down. Doing feet-anchored under is a common practice for standard
sit ups, but you are going to do just the opposite.
We are going to eliminate the hip flexor activation by hooking your
heels behind an immovable object. Octagon dumbbells that do not roll
work, well and power blocks also work great. If you have a partner, have
them kneel in front of you and grasp the back of your low leg (Achilles
tendon area) and have you pull into the grasp. Do the same with any
object. Hook and pull your heels toward your glutes. This is what
eliminates the hip flexor from helping. It is called the Law of
Movement: Hook your heels as directed; slowly use your arms to walk your
chest to your knees. Place your hands next to your belly button so you
can palpate or feel you abdominal wall. Maintain good posture and slowly
lean back away from your knees to a position your fell comfortable. As
you move away you will notice your abdominals begin to tighten down.
Some of you will only be able to go back a few inches before your feel
uncomfortable. That is OK!
Now from that position hold it for 15-20 seconds and you will notice
your abdominals start to quiver. At this time relax and lay back on the
floor, release your heels and rest for 30-45 seconds. Repeat this
exercise 3-5 times per session.
After each workout you will be able to lean back farther and hold the
position for 20 seconds before your abs start shaking. When you can
slowly lean back and hold your body about 2 inches off the ground and
stay there for 20 seconds 3-5 reps with 30-45 seconds rest intervals,
you are ready to progress.
Level II Expansion Sit Back
Level II assumes the basic level I positions the only difference is your
bring your arms up and across your chest. Perform the exercise and
exercise progression the exactly the same as level I
Level III Expansion Sit Back
To carry out level III just move your arms up and out 90 degrees from
your body and follow all level I’s requirements.
Level IV Expansion Sit Back
To accomplish level IV, move your arms out to the side and place your
finger tips on your cheekbones. NOTE: Do not put your hands behind your
head. Repeat level I’s progression
Level V Expansion Sit Back
To finish off the expansion sit back mover your arms over your head as
is you where signaling a touchdown in football. NOTE: Do not swing your
arms. Repeat level 1’s progression
This exercise and its advanced progressions will strengthen your
abdominal wall, help you develop a 6 pack and also minimize low back
pain. It has worked wonders for many of my clients, especially wrestlers
and boxers. This is a challenging one, so not all of them “like” it, but
do them faithfully because they know it works. Whether you’re an athlete
or you just want to look like one, give Expansion sit backs a try – they
will work wonders for you too.
This is just a small example of what you can find in “Firm and Flatten
Your Abs” abdominal workout manual
hese are more questions are answered in detail by getting a copy
of Firm and Flatten Your Abs at http://www.flattenyourabs.net
Also visit my blog at
Firm and Flatten Your Abs
About The Author
David is the author of Firm And Flatten Your Abs an online best seller
which teaches you how to lose body fat and develop ‘six pack abs’ while
improving strength, function and athletic power at the same time. You
can contact David or learn more about his programs at