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I use a machine to do 8-12 crunches to failure. I also like to perform sit-ups to failure (and I feel it in the front of my hips, not my abs). Does it matter in which order I do these two exercises?

Edit: I was wondering whether wearing-out the abdominals would make the sit-ups less effective. I've read you're supposed to do certain exercises before others, but the reason is not always clear to me.

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I know this doesn't answer your question but... If you're looking for abdominal workouts, contrary to popular opinion, crunches and sit-ups aren't very effective workouts. You will see much better results if you do an ab workout that uses the full range of motion like leg lifts. – Evan Plaice Mar 29 '11 at 19:41
do you have any reasons for suspecting it matters? – Ivo Flipse Mar 29 '11 at 22:08
@Ivo Filipse, I was wondering whether wearing-out the abdominals would make the sit-ups less effective. I've read you're supposed to do certain exercises before others, but I don't always understand why. – Jeremy Stein Mar 30 '11 at 17:13
I suggest you add that information to your question @Jeremy :-) – Ivo Flipse Mar 30 '11 at 17:17
Neither. Do straight leg lifts (lying or hanging depending on what you can handle) to target the rectus abdominus muscle region (abs) followed by bicycle crunches to target the external oblique (v-pack). IMHO, sit-ups and crunches are really overrated. – Evan Plaice Jun 2 '11 at 23:15
up vote 4 down vote accepted

You'll probably want to do the crunch machine first. The machine uses a heavier weight than just your bodyweight per a sit-up (I assume you do more than 8-12 sit-ups during that set), so you really use that machine to build strength and the sit-ups for endurance.

If you do the sit-ups first, you may have exhausted your muscles beyond the point where you can really take advantage of the extra weight on the machine and develop strength.

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It's less effective to exercise a tired muscle? I would have thought that it wouldn't matter so long as you go to failure. – Jeremy Stein Mar 30 '11 at 17:15
@Jeremey Well, I assume you are working on strength when you're loading weight onto the machine and you want to be fresh for strength work... – Greg Mar 31 '11 at 4:54
Be sure to also balance weighted ab workouts with a sufficient back workout or you risk muscle imbalances which can cause a lot of problems. Such as, chronic lower back pain due to your body trying to fight itself to keep your spine in alignment. I've been there, it's not fun. – Evan Plaice Jun 2 '11 at 23:18

Regular situps, as most people do them, are not the best exercise for the abs. You should look for another exercise.

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Is there anything else that you can add to your answer? It doesn't really help the question being asked. Can you suggest other exercises instead of sit-ups? – Matt Chan Mar 29 '11 at 19:55
There are a lot of great exercises for the abs, but a lot of them don't have commonly known names. Either do crunch sit ups, or for example perform Ab Wheel Rollout. either standing on feet, or knees. – Øyvind Mar 29 '11 at 19:59
+1 good answer. See my comment above. – Evan Plaice Jun 2 '11 at 23:27

I think you can only get so much work out of doing crunches and sit ups. To truly engage your core you should lift heavy things over head. Lifting heavy weights correctly forces you to use your Abs to stabilize. One of the best workouts I have found for abs is the Overhead Squat.

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+1 Agree despite my answer. The OP asked specifically about the order of sit-ups vs weighted crunches, but a better solution would be to focus on full-body exercises like squats or deadlifts. – Greg Mar 31 '11 at 16:20

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