A decline situp bench positions your upper body at an angle so that it’s lower than your hips and thighs. This positioning causes your body to work harder, since you have to work against gravity and through a wider range of motion.

Decline situps are an effective core exercise to add to your fitness routine. They improve core strength, prevent injury, and help to stabilize your body.

These benefits can have a positive effect on your fitness routine and daily physical activities, making it easier to twist, bend, and extend your body.

Read on to discover how to do decline situps, the specific muscles you’ll strengthen, and alternative abdominal exercises.

You can adjust the angle of the bench to increase or decrease the difficulty of the situp. As the angle of the decline bench increases, so does the difficulty of the exercise.

When doing a decline situp, be sure to tuck your chin into your chest to protect your neck. For comfort, support, and to avoid injury, choose a decline bench with a thick backrest.

Without weights

This video demonstrates the proper form and highlights the targeted muscles:

To do it

  1. Sit on the bench with bent knees and your feet under the padded bar.
  2. Cross your arms over your chest, or interlace your fingers around the base of your skull.
  3. Lift your torso up to bring your chest to your thighs.
  4. Pause here for a few seconds, then return to the starting position.
  5. Do 2 to 3 sets of 8 to 18 repetitions.
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With weights

For a challenge, hold a weight to increase resistance and engage more muscles. Watch this video for a quick demonstration:

To do it

  1. Sit on the bench with bent knees and your feet under the padded bar.
  2. Hold a dumbbell, weight plate, or medicine ball across your chest or above your head.
  3. Raise your torso up to bring your chest to your thighs.
  4. Pause here for a few seconds before returning to the starting position.
  5. Do 2 to 3 sets of 8 to 18 repetitions.
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Without a bench

Use a stability ball in place of a decline bench to support the natural curve of your lower back and minimize pressure on your spine.

Take a look at this video to get a feel for the exercise:

To do it

  1. Position a stability ball against a low wall or step so your feet can rest in a position that’s higher than the floor.
  2. Cross your arms over your chest, or interlace your fingers at the base of your skull.
  3. Lift your torso up to bring your chest toward your thighs.
  4. Hold this position for a few seconds.
  5. Slowly lower back down to the starting position.
  6. Do 2 to 3 sets of 8 to 18 repetitions.
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Decline situps increase spinal flexion and work the core muscles around the torso, thighs, and pelvis. These include the rectus abdominis, obliques, and rectus femoris.

They also strengthen the back, chest, and hip flexors, which are the inner hip muscles that bring the abdomen toward the thighs as you lift.

The movement allows your hips, low back, and core to work together to improve balance, stability, and posture. All of these benefits help to reduce low back pain, prevent injury, and make all types of movements easier.

Decline situps and decline crunches are both beneficial in building muscle and developing core strength, though they have slightly different benefits.

Decline crunches are beneficial as an isolation exercise if you’re working on building a “six-pack.” One of the main muscles worked during decline crunches is the rectus abdominis, known as the six-pack muscle.

Decline situps work more muscle groups and build overall core stability that helps with many types of movement.

Both types of exercises have the potential to cause pain and injury. You can focus on one exercise if there are specific results you’d like to achieve or if your body responds better to one over the other. Otherwise, adding both to your fitness program will yield the best results.

There are several exercises that work the same muscles as decline situps. You can do these exercises in place of or in addition to the situps.

Plank and side plank

This energizing exercise aligns your body and supports good posture. It works your core, upper body, back, and legs.

To do it

  1. From tabletop position, lift your hips and heels as you straighten your legs.
  2. Tuck your chin into your chest to lengthen the back of your neck.
  3. Press firmly into your hands and engage your entire body.
  4. Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
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To move into a side plank, place your left hand in the center so it’s in line with your left foot.

To do it

  1. Rotate the right side of your body up toward the ceiling.
  2. Stack your heels, place your right foot in front of your left, or drop your left knee down for support.
  3. Place your right hand on your hip, or extend it straight up toward the ceiling with your palm facing away from your body.
  4. Gaze up toward the ceiling or straight ahead.
  5. Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  6. Then transition back into the plank position before doing the opposite side.
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Bridge pose

This classic backbend and inversion targets your abs, back, and glutes. To hold the pose for an extended period, place a block or support under your low back.

To do it

  1. Lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor and toes pointed toward your hips.
  2. Press your palms into the floor alongside your body.
  3. Slowly lift your tailbone up until your hips are as high your knees.
  4. Tuck your chin into your chest, and keep your neck and spine in one line.
  5. Hold this position for up to 1 minute.
  6. Release by rolling your spine back down to the floor, starting with the top vertebra.
  7. Relax for a few moments.
  8. Repeat 1 to 2 times.
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Decline situps are an effective way to work your core, back, and hip flexors. Since you’ll be working against gravity as you lift, your muscles will have to work harder than during traditional situps.

This movement strengthens your core, which helps you to develop good posture, balance, and stability. You may find that it’s easier and more comfortable to perform all types of activities.

Add these situps to your fitness routine that includes plenty of other strengthening exercises, aerobic activity, and stretching.