5 Reasons Why You Can’t Do Sit UPS Without Holding Feet

Sit-ups seem easy and the most basic endurance exercise to strengthen abdominal muscles. You might notice people less fit than you doing it just fine. And it bothers you that no matter what you can’t do it without holding your feet. 

Furthermore, some people advise you to buy some resistance bands or try hooking your feet under something. Others would tell you to leave it altogether and try other exercises such as crunches and planks. But not knowing the actual reason bothers you more.

So why can’t you do sit ups without holding your feet?

The reason could be a wrong technique such as legs too close to your torso. Similarly, your legs could be less heavy than your torso. Other reasons include weak hip flexors, poor posture, weak core, or even weak abdominal muscles. Not to mention the role of being overweight or losing balance.

We will list all of the possible reasons for not being able to sit up without anchoring feet. For each of the reasons, we will also brief you about its possible and quick solution. 

So, without further ado, let go.

Can’t Do Sit Ups Without Anchoring Feet-[5 Reasons Why]

Let us check out these reasons one by one.

Reason 1: Abdominal Muscles

So when you attempt to sit up, the first muscles that initiate are your six packs. These are your belly muscles essential for lifting your torso. So, if these muscles are not strong enough, you are gonna have a really hard time lifting your torso off the ground. 

There are several alternative exercises to train and strengthen your abdominal muscles. Check them out below.

Russian Twists

Simply put, this exercise basically hit all the core muscles. Which makes it the right exercise for building up your core and overall lifting strength. Let us see how to perform it.

  • Lie down on the floor.
  • Bent your legs at the knees.
  • Lift your torso and make a V shape with your thighs.
  • Twist your body or torso to the right and then left.


Plank is the best exercise to strengthen your core and abdominal muscles. Not to mention it improves core strength because it works your whole body. In addition to that, planks give you the strength to avoid hunching while sitting or standing.

Let us see how it is done.

  • Place your forearms on the floor.
  • Align your elbows below your shoulders.
  • Make your arms below your shoulders and parallel to your body.
  • Your toes must be grounded into the floor.
  • After that you should stabilize your body, squeezing your glutes might help with that. 
  • Keep looking about a foot in front of you.
  • It’s important that your head should be in line with your shoulder.
  • Maintain the position for as long as you can.

Reason 2: Hip Flexor Muscles

There are five major muscles in hip flexors. And if simply put, these muscles connect your legs to the upper body. Too tight hip flexors may limit your mobility. 2

In sit-ups, you basically move your spine to loosen up stiffness in your hips leading to flexible hips. So, too tight or too stiff hips would make it hard to sit up without anchoring feet. 

These are the muscles that are responsible for the torso and thigh linkage. So, let us check out some exercises that train your hip flexor muscles. 

Hanging Leg Raise

Primarily there are three muscles that work during hanging leg raise exercise.

  • Hip flexors 
  • Sartorius
  • Iliopsoas

Together their muscles work and provide the following benefits.

  • Assist with hip flexion
  • Assist in drawing thighs trunk
  • Provide strength for performing side bending
  • Stabilizes rectus abdominis and obliques
  • Build hip flexors and abdominal muscles

Let’s have a look at its proper technique.

  • Grab the push-up bar, rounded one would do good.
  • Lift your feet from the ground.
  • Raise your legs straight.
  • Hold your legs outward in front of you.
  • Tilt pelvis slightly backward.
  • Don’t forget to engage abdominal muscles and hip flexors to help the movement.
  • During the lift keep your legs 90 degrees parallel.
  • Now return your legs to the starting point.
  • Repeat.

Reverse Crunch

Reverse crunch is a pretty simple exercise. You just have to draw your lower body towards your upper body (chest). Your upper body remains on the mat while with the help of your abs you draw your legs towards it. 

Furthermore, the pelvis is an attachment point for hip flexors. So, it becomes easy to do reverse crunches through hip flexors. And avoid it by doing abs contractions. 

Let us see how reverse crunches are done. 

  • Lie on something comfortable while keeping your face up.
  • Bring down your knees to 90 degrees. 
  •  Your feet should still be flat on the ground.
  • Lift your feet to the point so that they become vertical.
  • Your knees should still be 90 degrees while your feet are vertical.
  • Try touching your face with your knees and try as hard as you can.
  • When you can’t do anymore touching then slowly return to the starting point and repeat.

Reason 3: Poor Technique and Posture

Probably every exercise is ruined because of not knowing how to do it properly. A slight mistake would hit the wrong muscle in the wrong place. And this would make the exercise itself hard.

Similarly, during sit-ups, people make the arch of their lower back. The proper technique doesn’t allow a space between the floor and your back. Because of the space, you are putting your abdomen in a weakened position. 

Abdominal in a weakened position would definitely make it hard to do sit-ups without anchoring feet. Making a push towards the ground through the heel would help keep it flat. Exercising while having a weak abdominal position might lead to lower abdominal pain

Furthermore, a major disadvantage of poor posture and bad technique is uncomfortable during the execution of the exercise. Let us see how to sit up while maintaining proper form and technique. 

  • Flat back on the floor.
  • Firm feet on the ground.
  • Lifting the upper body as high as possible.

Now have a look at the bad technique elements for doing sit-ups.

  • Using your head while pulling your upper body up.
  • Using your legs for momentum.
  • Making lower back arches.
  • Raising only one side.
  • Over extended back.

Reason 4: Being Overweight

During sit-ups, you are basically lifting your whole upper body weight using your core muscles. And if you are overweight, you could even injure your core muscles lifting that much weight. So being overweight would also aid in difficulty doing sit-ups. 

This can be solved in two ways. One is to lose weight and the second is to strengthen your core muscles. Losing weight is linked to not just a combination of exercise but a good diet plan. And the third might be to know what to do after cheat day bodybuilding

So make sure that your body doesn’t consume the required amount but less than that. That way you lose weight faster. And the exercises that are required to aid in losing weight are as follows.

  • Cardiovascular training
  • Resistance activity
  • Aerobic Activity

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Reason 5: Losing Balance In Full Sit Up

During lifting your upper body your leg should only work to balance to help you fully sit up. Most people attempt to lift their upper body way too fast and as a result, lose balance. 

So what you need is to slow down your lifting speed. And the other thing is to move your feet away. Both of these things will practice your feet staying firmly on the ground during the lift.

Final Verdict

Sit-ups with anchoring feet indicate weak abdominal muscles and core muscles. In addition to that, doing sit-ups with someone holding your feet doesn’t target your abs and core. Instead anchored feet make the hip flexor do all the lifting. 

While the major muscles that sit-ups should target are the abdominal muscles and core. So, in order to do proper sit-ups without anchoring feet, you need to train your abs and core. And to do that all the exercises are listed above. 

These exercises would help strengthen your abs and core. And once they are strong you won’t be needing anyone to hold your feet. 

Also, following the right technique would also help with sit-ups without anchoring feet. Not to mention avoiding poor posture would help avoid weakening of the abs and core muscles. 


How would I know that I have a weak core?

If you have a weak core you would face difficulty doing exercises that target the core. Such as reverse crunches or Russian twists. You will experience difficulty executing these exercises if you have a weak core. Doing planks for at least 10 to 15 seconds can also measure your core strength. 

My abdominal muscles are so weak, why is that?

Your abdominal muscle may be weak due to any injury in the past. But the most common reason is inactivity. You have to exercise, train and make your abdominal muscles strong enough. So, weak abdominal muscle is not a big deal and is, in fact, totally normal. Just do some abs strengthening exercise. 

How many sit ups do I need to lose 1 pound?

If you are a fit person, doing sit-ups with proper technique can lose 1 pound. You may burn 10 calories if you do 10 push-ups in a minute and 1 pound is equal to 3500 calories. So, you basically need about 17000 sit-ups to lose 1 pound. 


So you can’t do sit ups without holding your feet because your muscles aren’t strong enough. The poor technique also does its role along with poor posture. 

Furthermore, Feet going up during sit-ups is normal. You just have to practice the technique along with other muscle strengthening exercises.

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