How To Perform Butterfly Sit Ups: The Best Exercise For Abs Muscle

For many gym-goers, a six pack is a huge goal. A visible set of abdominal muscles has become heavily associated with being in great shape and having an aesthetically pleasing physique. Butterfly Sit Ups

You will probably hear that diet is of great importance when it comes to revealing a chiselled mid-section. While this is certainly true, you must still build the muscles before you can reveal your six pack.

An excellent exercise for working and building your abs are butterfly sit ups or butterfly crunches, as they are sometimes known. Sit up and crunch variations have long been a staple in people’s workouts but butterfly sit ups are a rarely used exercise.

In my opinion, butterfly sit ups are far superior to the standard, more popular sit up. Throughout this article, you will learn the benefits of butterfly sit ups and how to perform them properly to build your abs.


What Muscles Do Butterfly Sit Ups Work?

The obvious answer here is that they work your abs or “core”. However, your abs and core are actually made up of a group of different muscles that each have different functions.

For a balanced and well-developed stomach, it is important to focus some attention to all of the muscles in the area but the specific muscles that make up the six pack are your rectus abdominis.

The rectus abdominis muscles are a pair of long, sheet-like muscles that run all the way down your abdomen in a vertical fashion. The pair of muscles is made up of a group of different muscle bodies that are connected by tendons, which run horizontally across the muscles. These tendons are what give the appearance of the six pack.

The function of your rectus abdominis is to flex your lower spine and torso by pulling your rib cage down towards your pelvis. The rectus abdominis can also be activated by tensing your stomach.

Butterfly sit ups require you to flex your trunk and brace your abdominal muscles at the same time, making them a perfect exercise to target the rectus abdominis and build those six pack muscles.

Benefits Of Butterfly Sit Ups

Aside from being an excellent exercise to target your rectus abdominis muscles, butterfly sit ups also have some other benefits that you would not want to ignore.

To give you, even more, reasons for trying them out, here is a list of the benefits of butterfly sit ups:

Extended Range Of Motion.

As a result of the open hip position that you will adopt when performing a butterfly sit up, the overall range of motion for the exercise is increased.

During a normal sit up, your thighs actually stop you from flexing your torso fully. With a butterfly crunch, you are able to draw your rib cage much closer to your pelvis, which helps you get a full contraction of your abs.

Of course, a greater range of motion and better contraction of the muscle will lead to more strength and growth over time.

Improved Back Flexibility

This benefit is somewhat related to the above point. The greater range of motion and spinal flexion that you get with butterfly sit ups will provide a big stretch for your lower back muscles.

Tight muscles in your lumbar spine are never a good thing. Increased injury risk and compromised exercise technique are the results of having a tight lower back.

By strengthening your abdominal muscles and stretching your lower back muscles, you can provide more support for your spine. Since the butterfly sit up accomplishes both simultaneously, they are certainly worth including in your workouts.

Stretches Your Hips

A big problem with the standard sit up is that you recruit a lot of your hip flexor muscles when you perform the exercise. Quite often, this can lead to increased tightness of those muscles.

Many people already have relatively tight hip muscles as a result of extended periods of sitting. Working those muscles too much will only compound that tightness and make things worse.

Butterfly sit ups remove some of that hip flexor activation by positioning your knees apart. As an added benefit, the opening of your knees forces your hip muscles into a stretched position instead of the flexed one that can cause them to become even tighter.

In turn, the sit up as a whole will feel much harder to you. This is good news because the reason it feels harder is down to less hip flexor involvement and a higher demand on your abdominal muscles.

Better Digestion

I will admit that this benefit isn’t just specific to butterfly sit ups; you can improve your digestion by strengthening your abs with many exercises. However, it is still a benefit and it is an often overlooked one.

Your digestive system relies heavily on an action called peristalsis, which is performed by the contraction and relaxation of your digestive muscles. Strengthening and stimulating your abdominal muscles regularly can help to aid peristalsis and bowel movements.

How To Perform Butterfly Sit Ups


The first thing you will need is an exercise mat or a relatively soft floor. You can perform them without a mat but the external discomfort could draw your focus away from the exercise itself.

There is no other equipment needed and you don’t even need a whole lot of space, which are further benefits of this exercise. All you have to do now is follow the simple step-by-step guide below.

  1. Lie flat on your back.
  2. Place the soles of your feet flat together and bring them as close to your butt as you can.
  3. Let your knees fall to the sides as you open your legs/hips.
  4. Reach your hands overhead and tense your abdominal muscles to bring your upper body off of the ground.
  5. Keeping your feet on the ground, sit up until your torso is between your thighs.
  6. Slowly return to the start position and repeat for the next rep.

Butterfly sit ups tips

Here are a few quick tips that you can use to make sure you are getting the very most out the exercise.

  • Exhale as you sit up. By breathing out as you tense your stomach, you force your body into contracting your abdominals even harder.
  • Relax your neck. Try not to tense your neck muscles up during the sit up. All of your focus should be on contracting your stomach muscles. Keep your neck and still and relaxed as you can.
  • Bring your feet close to your body. The closer your feet are to your body, the harder your abs have to work to complete the sit up.
  • Place your hands across your chest. Instead of extending your arms overhead, try placing them across your chest to make the exercise harder for your abs. When your arms are overhead, you are able to use them in a swinging fashion to gain a bit of extra momentum. Placing them across your chest eliminates this.
  • Lower your body slowly. Your abs are still being forced to work as you lower your torso back to the ground after each sit up. The slower you lower your body, the more of a workout your abs will be getting.


Hopefully, this article has convinced you to switch out your standard sit ups and crunches for butterfly sit ups instead. The added benefits of the butterfly variation will only serve to make your ab training more efficient, which in my opinion, is a no-brainer.

Of course, you need to focus on the other muscles around your abs as well but the butterfly sit up is an awesome exercise for targeting your rectus abdominis AKA the six pack.

Let me know what you think of butterfly sit ups in the comments below, it would be awesome to hear your own experiences with the exercise.

Also, make sure you share this article with your friends and show them why it might be time for them to make some changes in their abs routine.

Kelly Joyner

Hi, I'm Kelly, I'm very glad you took a few minutes of your time to check out my blog. RegularityFitness is a blog about the best fitness exercises, weight loss methods, diet, muscle building. That will help you get a good shape and healthy.

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