Think You Could Pass the U.S. Army Sit-up Test?

Photo: Getty Images/Mike Raabe
If you thought you knew what the perfect sit-up looked like, you're probably wrong—at least according to the military. The general technique for the U.S. Army sit-up standards are familiar—knees bent, feet on the floor, and a continual up-and-down motion—but a few adjustments make this the move of a soldier.

The U.S. Army sit-up is slightly different in that with the military-approved technique the only part of your foot in contact with the ground is your heels and your feet should be 12 inches apart. The standards also require a very specific position body position at the top of the sit-up—or it doesn't count.

The changes might seem small, but once you perform the exercise like a soldier, the difference is very clear.

How to perform proper U.S. Army sit-ups

  1. Lie down with your legs bent at a 90-degree angle and only your heels touching the floor. Keep your feet 12 inches apart.
  2. Lock your fingers behind your head and keep your elbows down.
  3. Raise your body up into a sit-up, hovering your elbows above your knees. Don't allow them to touch. Make sure the base of your neck passes the base of your spine.
  4. Lower back down until the bottom of your shoulder blades touch the ground.
  5. Keeping your form—and without cheating!—see how many sit-ups you can perform in two minutes.

To meet U.S. Army sit-up standards, you must score at least 50 points (as part of the Army Physical Fitness Test Standards). For example, if you are female between the ages 32 and 36, you must do at least 34 sit ups in two minutes in order to pass this event; a perfect score requires at least 76 sit-ups in two minutes. (See how many sit-ups you need to complete based on your age using this chart.)

Now that you know how to perform the perfect sit-up, make sure you have the right technique for bicycle kicks. Or if you're a plank-lover, this seven-minute flow is for you.

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