The Janda Sit-up

Posted in: Workout Guide  on Wednesday, August 20, 2008
By Clark Bartram
If you are anything like me you have searched high and low for the most effective way to train your abdominal muscles to peak perfection. Well I believe I have found what you have been looking for.

If you have ever watched my show American Health & Fitness you probably already know I am an advocate of Swiss Ball training. I have always felt that Swiss ball sit-ups are a great way to develop functionally strong and aesthetically pleasing abs. I still know that to be true, but I have discovered a new and exciting way to eliminate poor form, reduce the involvement of the hip flexors, and eliminate the chance of lower back injury while training abs.

The Janda sit-up was developed by Professor Vladimir Janda, the world’s foremost expert on back problems. His breakthroughs have enabled the exerciser to totally isolate the abdominals while simultaneously relaxing the surrounding muscles.

I watch countless numbers of people in gyms throughout the country (heck, even dozens in the gym I go to alone) attempting to train abs, but merely training hip flexors and almost everything else with exception to the abs.

Now I must first mention the execution of this movement is very precise and is best attempted with proper supervision. What I mean by proper supervision is someone who knows what a Janda sit-up is. Once you find this qualified person you are off and running.

Actually to best perform this tricky movement you’ll want to use the Ab Pavelizer™. The Ab Pavelizer™ is a specially designed apparatus to aid in the proper form while executing this movement. For now, we will attempt the exercise without the use of any special equipment, just a qualified spotter.

Here you see the beginning position of the Janda Sit-up, legs firmly set, and arms crossed against the chest. In the second position you raise the upper torso slightly, about a 45° angle. This clever gadget is an Ab Pavelizer™ used in-case you don’t have a spotter. As you can see the rope can be used to aide you in your sit-ups.
I will try to breakdown the movement as best I can in this article. Ready, here we go. Position yourself on your back in a typical sit-up position with your knees bent at 90 degrees. Pretty basic so far. He is where the distinction will make itself known. With your feet flat on the floor, unsupported by anything, squeeze your glutes tight. While maintaining tight glutes and feet flat on the floor attempt to sit up using a tempo of 4-seconds. Your spotter will assist you by placing their hands behind your calves giving slight pressure on them. The idea is eliminate the help of the surrounding muscles (or lower back, hip flexors, etc...). Also, we want to get you out of the habit of using momentum.

Most likely you couldn’t do it. Don’t feel bad, neither could I! (I have noticed that women have a slightly easier time with this than men do.)

Now, here is what to do. Negatives only. That means to start at the top of the movement, already sitting up. Keeping strict form lower yourself (with chin tucked) to the floor with a 4-second tempo. Your arms should be crossed in front of your chest. Sit back up any way you can. This will make it easier for now. Do this for 3-5 reps for about 3-5 sets. Rest about 3-5 minutes between sets.

When you can do this without any momentum (thus the tempo reference) you are ready to move on to the entire movement. Keep the same set rep scheme until you have it mastered, then move to 5 sets of 5 reps. Once this can be accomplished (maintaining proper form and tempo!), you can put your hands to the front and then overhead.

I’ll keep harping on form and execution of proper tempo because I need to. Most people want to cheat simply because that is the body’s natural defense mechanism against failure, muscular failure that is. Don’t do the movement unless you are willing to do it right and get over the notion that you need to do thousands of crunches in order to see those abs.

Hey, if countless reps haven’t worked yet, why continue anyway?

You will also notice in the photos the Ab Pavelizer™ I have referred to above. You can use this instead of a spotter.

If you want to learn more about the proper way to train your abs and how you can get your own Ab Pavelizer™, e-mail me and I will send you the info.

I wish I had room to give you more great abdominal information, but I guess it will have to wait for another issue of Max Sport & Fitness magazine.