Expansion Sit-Backs – Another Amazingly Effective
Abdominal Exercise You’Ve Probably Never Done Before
By David Grisaffi
There are literally hundreds of
abdominal exercise you can choose from. Not only that,
most ab exercises have multiple variations which allow
for progression through increasing levels of difficulty.
With such a wide range of exercise to choose from it’s a
shame that so many people keep repeating the same boring
workouts over and over again.
If you're not changing your
exercises regularly (continually challenging yourself
with more advanced movements as your strength
increases), then you’re on your way to staleness,
boredom and progress plateaus. If you want to keep
improving your abs, week after week, then here is
another new abdominal exercise to add to your
repertoire: Expansion Sit Backs.
I have had advised against over-dependence on the
traditional sit up for many years. Regular sit ups put
too much pressure on your low back by using your hip
flexors and hamstrings to perform almost 2/3 of the
This over-tightens these muscles, pulling your pelvis
forward and eventually leading to low back pain.
If you want a six pack, take a pass on the standard sit
up, if for no other reason, than because there are
If you could swap out your old
sit ups with a new exercise that could minimize hip
flexor and hamstring involvement, maximize abdominal
contraction and develop better abs without low back
pain, would you do it? Of course you would. And I have
just the exercise for this - the Expansion Sit Back.
This exercise is not only a favorite of mine, it’s also
backed up by many EMG studies that compare hip flexor
and abdominal activation. The latest study coming out of
Canada indicated that this exercise produced the
greatest abdominal activation while minimizing flexor
Just one last bit of background before I show you how
it’s done. I first learned of the Expansion Sit Back
when I was wrestling in college. I was fanatic about
finding exercise programs that would improve my
wrestling strength and ability. One day while browsing
through the college library, I found a book titled
Maximum Performance by Lawrence Moorhouse, the famed
exercise kinesiologist from UCLA. This book was a gold
mine of information and ahead of its time. Back then
there weren’t many conditioning books, tapes or DVD’s,
there was no Internet and Jane Fonda was the rage. I
read this book one night and came up with my own
wrestling conditioning program. A part of this program
was the Expansion Sit Back. This is over 25 years ago
and I still consider it a good as gold exercise to this
An Expansion Sit Back when performed correctly will
strengthen the entire abdominal wall, not just your
rectus abdominis (the six pack abs muscles). It also
minimizes hip flexor action. You will find this exercise
challenging and worthwhile as your abdominal core
becomes toned and sharp. Please do not over do it. Take
your time - that’s how it works best.
How to perform the Expansion
Sit Back and its 4 progressive variations.
Starting Position: Sit comfortably on the floor with
your knees bent, feet and back on the floor. Keep this
neutral posture position during the exercise. Gently
place your tongue on the roof of your mouth (this
stabilizes your cervical spine) and tilt your chin
toward your chest a small amount.
Do not hook your heels or feet under any piece of
furniture or have them held down. Doing feet-anchored
under is a common practice for standard sit ups, but you
are going to do just the opposite.
We are going to eliminate the hip flexor activation by
hooking your heels behind an immovable object. Octagon
dumbbells that do not roll work, well and power blocks
also work great. If you have a partner, have them kneel
in front of you and grasp the back of your low leg
(Achilles tendon area) and have you pull into the grasp.
Do the same with any object. Hook and pull your heels
toward your glutes. This is what eliminates the hip
flexor from helping. It is called the Law of Reciprocal
Movement: Hook your heels as directed; slowly use your
arms to walk your chest to your knees. Place your hands
next to your belly button so you can palpate or feel you
abdominal wall. Maintain good posture and slowly lean
back away from your knees to a position your fell
comfortable. As you move away you will notice your
abdominals begin to tighten down. Some of you will only
be able to go back a few inches before your feel
uncomfortable. That is OK…
Now from that position hold it for 15-20 seconds and you
will notice your abdominals start to quiver. At this
time relax and lay back on the floor, release your heels
and rest for 30-45 seconds. Repeat this exercise 3-5
times per session.
After each workout you will be able to lean back farther
and hold the position for 20 seconds before your abs
start shaking. When you can slowly lean back and hold
your body about 2 inches off the ground and stay there
for 20 seconds 3-5 reps with 30-45 seconds rest
intervals, you are ready to progress.
Level II Expansion Sit Back
Level II assumes the basic level I positions the only
difference is your bring your arms up and across your
chest. Perform the exercise and exercise progression the
exactly the same as level I
Level III Expansion Sit Back
To carry out level III just move your arms up and out 90
degrees from your body and follow all level I’s
Level IV Expansion Sit Back
To accomplish level IV, move your arms out to the side
and place your finger tips on your cheekbones. NOTE: Do
not put your hands behind your head. Repeat level I’s
Level V Expansion Sit Back
To finish off the expansion sit back mover your arms
over your head as is you where signaling a touchdown in
football. NOTE: Do not swing your arms. Repeat level 1’s
This exercise and its advanced progressions will
strengthen your abdominal wall, help you develop a 6
pack and also minimize low back pain. It has worked
wonders for many of my clients, especially wrestlers and
boxers. This is a challenging one, so not all of them
“like” it, but do them faithfully because they know it
works. Whether you’re an athlete or you just want to
look like one, give Expansion sit backs a try – they
will work wonders for you too.
Coach David Grisaffi.
David Grisaffi has been a sports enthusiast his entire life. He participated in football, basketball, wrestling, swimming, tennis, and baseball, and excelled at wrestling. His love for sports led him into a career in sports conditioning and fitness training.
David majored in physical education and holds multiple certifications including three from the prestigious CHEK Institute: Level II high Performance Exercise Kinesiologist, Golf Biomechanic,
and health and lifestyle counselor. He also holds certifications from the International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA)
as a personal trainer and specialist in performance
David has been a high school wrestling and baseball coach and is currently an independent trainer and strength coach. He has been sought after by some of the top athletes in professional sports including world champion boxer Greg Haugen and professional golfer Michael Putnam.
David’s ebook, Firm And Flatten Your Abs
is an online best seller which teaches you how to lose body fat, develop “six pack abs’ while improving strength, function and athletic power at the same time. You can contact David or learn more about his programs at www.FlattenYourAbs.net