A little over two years ago, Pavel (shown performing the Janda sit up in the pic above) came here to Sacramento, CA for an ab workshop. I of course jumped at the chance to sign up … and it was, as any other workshop/training course I’ve attended put on by Pavel/Dragon Door, awesome!
I picked up a load of immediately actionable training tips and techniques at the workshop. But one of the coolest and most effective exercises we covered is the Janda sit up.
I had experimented with this exercise prior to, but never really had specific and detailed instruction on it. In short, it’s one of the hardest ab exercises ever. And if your goals include stronger abs, it’s an exercise you’ll want to incorporate into your routine ASAP.
What is the Janda sit up?
With the endorsement of many in the fitness industry, the Janda sit up is one of the most difficult exercises out there to target your abs. It was created by Professor Janda with the purpose of improving lower back health.
This form of the sit-up removes the hip flexors from the movement and isolates your abs like none other. This is done by contracting your hamstrings, which stunts your ability to utilize your hip flexors and engages your abdominals.
The problem with most “ab” exercises – and the solution
In many common ab exercises, the abdominals are not recruited, with the hip flexors taking on the job instead; these are found at the front of your pelvis and have the job of raising your legs.
The problem with most popular ab exercises is when pressure is placed on the hip flexors, strain is placed on the spine which can cause back pain and a less effective workout.
Thankfully, the solution to this issue is the Janda sit-up, which Canadian scientists recently discovered maximizes the load on the abdominals while minimizing hip flexor activation.
How to perform a proper Janda sit-up
The easiest way to perform the Janda sit-up is with the assistance of a partner (see the pic at the top of the post).
Lay on the ground with your knees bent at a 90 degree angle and your feet placed flat on the ground. Your partner needs to hold your legs halfway between your ankles and knees.
Next, activate your glutes and hamstrings to insure your feet remain on the floor. Place your arms at your sides and slowly sit up. By squeezing your hamstrings and glutes, your hip flexors are removed from the movement.
Continue applying tension for the entire movement in order to isolate your abs and prevent low back pressure.
Alternative (better?) solution
If you don’t have a partner – or you just want to make absolutely sure you do the exercise consistently right, every time – a great solution is the Ab Pavelizer II. You load it up with 25-35 pounds, and it pushes up against your calves to give you the exact amount of needed resistance for a perfect Janda sit up.
This is a very cool piece of equipment. Obviously it’s not required for doing the exercise – but if you frequently work out alone and want to incorporate the Janda sit up into your routine on a regular basis, it’s a great help.
Get the Ab Pavelizer 2 here: Ab Pavelizer II
In conclusion, the Janda sit up is a brutal sit up variation that’ll smoke the hell out of your abs. I first experienced its full power at a workshop put on by Pavel here in Sacramento, CA about two years ago, and it’s become one of my favorite advanced ab exercises.
Thanks for reading and talk soon -
Forest Vance, MS, CPT, RKC II