October exercise challenge: sit-ups

What you can expect a child to do

From the age of 7-8 years young children are expected to be able to do sit-ups in PE classes and sport training sessions.  Children, especially boys, value the ability to do this exercise as well as their peers and are usually willing to expend time and energy getting it right. 

Being able to sit up from lying flat on the back easily and several times in succession reflects good abdominal and neck muscle strength as well as trunk flexibility and coordination. 

4-5 years and younger

Up to about the age of 5 young children sit up by twisting to one side and pushing up on one arm.  This action requires less muscle power than coming up straight forwards.

By age 5 you can expect your child to be able to sit up over one arm and lie down with good control 5 times in succession. 


5-6 year old

A 5-6 year old child should be able to sit up reaching forwards with the arms 5 times in succession. The legs lift up as as the child sits up. 


6-7 year old 

A 6-7 year old child should be able to sit up easily with the arms stretched forwards. The legs remain flat on the floor. 

This can be done easily at least five time in succession. 



8 years and older       

By 8 years of age a child should be able to sit up with the arms reaching forwards from lying with the knees bent and the feet flat on the floor. 

The child can do this 5 times in succession with ease. 


A quick assessment of abdominal muscle strength 

1  Let the child sit with the knees bent and the feet flat on the floor.

2  Instruct him/her to lean back about half way to the floor and stay in the position for 10 counts. 

3  Your child should be able to hold this position easily.

Sit legs bent.jpg    Sit back halfway.jpg


Goals for sitting up from lying

Lie back halfway from sitting with legs straight and sit up straight again, with good control.  Repeat 5 time. Repeat 10 times. 

Lie back 3/4 of the way, and sit uo straight again with good control. Repeat 5 times. Repeat 10 times

Sit up from lying flat, with legs straight, with a smooth movement. Repeat 5 times Repeat 10 times 

Sit up from lying with the legs bent, with a smooth movement.   Repeat 5 times.  Repeat 10 times

Graded exercises for training sit-ups



Sitting on the floor with the legs straight, the child practices leaning back as far as possible without falling backwards.  This gets the neck flexor and abdominal muscles working, teaches the child to flex the neck and trunk as he/she goes backwards. 

The neck and abdominal muscles work to control the backwards movement of the trunk, and then work to lift the trunk up again. 

Sit backs with the legs straight 

Start position

Start sitting on a mat with the legs straight in front of you.

►   Cross your arms across your chest.

►   Put your chin on your chest, look down towards you belly button and bend your back a little. 

Sit backs 1_1.jpg

Now lean backwards as far as you can without toppling over backwards.   

►   Hold this position for 5 counts. 

►   Come up straight again. 

Sit backs 2.jpg

►   How far can you go before you fall backwards?  

►   Now you know how far you can go before you fall backwards. It should be a little difficult to hold this position. 

►   Remember to keep your head bent forwards. 

sitbacks 3.jpg

Repetitions:  Start with 5, increase to 10.

How to make the exercise more difficult

  • Try to go back a little further. 
  • Hold the position for longer.
  • Increase the number of repetitions in a set.

​Sit-backs with the legs bent 

Once the child can lean back at least halfway with the legs straight, you can make the exercise more challenging by sitting with the legs bent. 

Instead of sitting with the legs straight, bend the hips and knees with the feet flat on the floor. 

Now practice leaning back as far as you can, and then coming up again. 

Crook sitting.jpg  

Training sitting up from lying 

Start position

Lie down flat on the floor. Reach forwards with your arms.

lying reach arms forwards.jpg

Exercise instructions

Lift up your head and shoulders, and sit up. 

►   Keep your arms steady - do not swing them to help you sit up. 

Supine sit up 2_0.jpg sit erect.jpg

Lie down again. 

►   This movement should be controlled.

►   Count to 3 before you sit up again. 

Supine sit up 2_0.jpg

Repetitions: start with 5 and increase to 10. 

Sets: 2


Younger children may lift up the legs as they sit up. As strength and coordination improve the child will be able to sit up without lifting the legs up. 

sit up legs lift.jpg

       blog 2 (3).jpeg  exercise handbook (1).jpeg      

  core info.jpeg