A recent article in the Wall Street Journal entitled ‘Why You Can Stop Doing Sit-Ups‘ reported that military experts in the US are pushing for the traditional sit-up to be replaced with alternate exercises, like plank pose, to prevent back injuries. An article in the US “Navy Times” called for the requirement to perform 46 sit-ups within two minutes to be banished from the physical readiness tests for sailors. It said that it is “an outdated exercise today viewed as a key cause of lower back injuries.”

Note that the traditional sit-up is very different from the variation that we do in Pilates. We do a much smaller curl-up, where you aim to hold your lower back close to neutral and keep the base of your shoulder blades in contact with the mat whilst working your centre (core abdominal muscles) to support your back. Nor do we aim to do the numbers required by the military.