How To Use Sit Up Ab Bench (Exercises For Total Ab Toning)

You want to do sit ups but don’t know how to use the sit up ab bench correctly? The sit up bench is a versatile piece of equipment that allows you to do a variety of exercises that target your abs and surrounding muscles. 

In this guide, we’ll tell you everything you need to know, including training tips and techniques!  

Standard Sit-Up Ab Bench 

Your standard sit up bench allows you to perform ab workouts in both the incline and the decline position. While many people think an incline ab bench is different from a decline ab bench, there is no difference in the bench itself but rather in the position in which you perform the exercise.

Additionally, this bench type is usually adjustable, allowing you to set the angle of the bench. The higher the incline, the more challenging the exercise will be.  

  • Decline Position 
    For decline exercises, you'll hook your feet into the footholds at the top of the bench, and you'll face toward the footholds. When doing decline position exercises, it's important that you don't lift up too much, as this will engage the hip flexors, and you won’t target the abs as much. Instead, aim for around a 45-60 degree rise before lowering back down. Additionally, you want to ensure that your pelvis does not tilt when you are in the starting position, which will also remove the tension on your abs.
  • Incline Position 
    For incline exercises, you’ll be facing away from the footholds, with your hands holding onto the bar between the footholds. If your bench doesn’t have a bar, you’ll just grip the padded footholds instead. Incline exercises help to alleviate back and neck strain thanks to the support of the bench. Incline ab bench exercises are a great V-up alternative since they work the same core muscles. For more, read our V-up alternative article here!

Curved Sit-up Bench 

If you struggle with back pain, the curved sit-up bench may be a better-suited option for you. This bench design helps to alleviate the pressure placed on your spine, allowing you to achieve your workout goals. As the name suggests, this variant features a curved bench.

Other than that, a curved sit up bench is almost identical to a standard/ straight ab bench. Additionally, these benches are usually adjustable - allowing you to select an angle that suits your needs. 

Roman Chair 

Also known as a hyperextension bench, the Roman chair allows you to target more than just your abs. Depending on the exercise, you’ll be able to build your overall core strength, train your back muscles, and even target your glutes and hamstrings as well.

The benefit of incorporating it into your routine means you'll be able to tone your abs while also improving your posture and strengthening your core at the same time. Some Roman chairs are adjustable, allowing you to set the angle of your bench.

Exercises performed on this bench can be done either facing toward the floor or toward the ceiling, which means you’ll be able to target a variety of muscles.  

Related Article - Reverse Hyperextension Alternatives

woman using a roman chair

Sit Up Ab Bench (Overview & Benefits Explained) 

The sit up ab bench is a useful piece of equipment that can be used for a variety of abdominal training exercises. A staple in any gym, the sit up ab bench differs from a bench you'd use for a bench press. Sit up ab benches feature footholds and come in a variety of types, allowing you to target an array of muscle groups.

The sit up bench isn't just great for targeting the rectus abdominis muscle (your abs). It also helps you train your internal and external obliques, rectus femoris, erector spinae, pecs, delts, lats, hip flexors, and glutes. Essentially - your entire core. 

The benefits of using an ab bench include placing less strain on your neck and spine when doing typical workouts like sit up or crunch variations. The padded bench and footholds further help to increase comfort levels and are ideal for people who suffer from existing injuries and/or pain.

Additionally, you can adjust the angle of the incline/decline to suit your strength level. This means you can start on a lower decline and slowly increase it as you improve, so you’ll always be challenging yourself.

Ab benches are available in a wide variety of models, with some allowing you to fold them up for compact storage. Models that allow you to drop the bench to a horizontal position mean you’ll be able to use the bench for your bench press or chest press exercises too.

How To Use Sit Up Bench

What Exercises Can You Do On A Sit Up Bench? (Complete Guide)

1. Incline Leg Raises 

Incline leg raises are an excellent core workout and can be adjusted to suit your strength level. Increasing the incline of the bench will increase the difficulty, while reducing the incline will make it easier to perform. This makes it ideal for beginners as well as intermediates.

For this workout, you'll be primarily targeting your rectus abdominis (abs) and external obliques. Additionally, incline leg raises also work the hip flexors and quads.

To do this exercise, position your back against the ab bench and hold onto the pads above your head. Engage your abs and drive your lower back into the bench. Keeping your legs straight, raise your legs until they are parallel to the ground. This is your starting position.

Next, lift your legs up as high as you’re able to, hold for 2 seconds, and then return to the starting position. Repeat the movement for the desired number of reps.  

2. Incline Reverse Crunches  

Incline reverse crunches offer many of the benefits of a regular crunch, without the strain placed on your neck. Additionally, research shows that reducing the range of flexion (the distance your spine bends forward) decreases the strain placed on the spine.

Incline reverse crunches target your rectus abdominis, as well as your transverse abdominis and external obliques. The key to getting the most out of this workout is to ensure a slow and steady pace.  

To perform this exercise, position your back against the ab bench and hold onto the pads above your head. Engage your abs and lats, driving your upper back into the bench.

Keeping your feet together, curl up and tuck your knees in toward your face. Slowly lower your feet down and, without touching the ground, repeat the movement for the desired number of reps.

3. Decline Sit Ups 

The decline sit up is a classic ab-building exercise for creating a strong core. While it is more challenging than a standard sit-up, it offers excellent ab training when performed correctly.

When doing decline sit ups, it’s important to ensure that you maintain a posterior tilt of your pelvis throughout the entire exercise. This means that there should not be any space between the bench and your lower back when you’re in the starting position.  

To carry out this exercise, sit on the ab bench and secure your feet under the footholds. Cross your arms over your chest, round your upper back, and engage your core. Focus on pushing your lower back into the bench before executing the sit up.

Next, perform a sit up, lifting up to 45-60 degrees. Don’t sit all the way up, as this doesn’t target the abs so much as it does the hip flexors. Slowly lower yourself down, maintaining correct posture. Without resting your back on the bench, repeat the movement for the desired amount of repetitions.  

4. Decline Russian Twists 

Decline Russian twists are a simple yet effective method to tone your abs and obliques. They can be done with or without holding a weight, making them suited for both beginners and intermediates.  

To do this exercise, sit on the ab bench and ensure your feet are secured under the footholds. Hold a weight plate (or simply clasp your hands together) and keep your back straight. Lean back slightly and engage your abs. Twist your torso from left to right,  repeating for the desired number of reps.

Decline Russian Twists

Frequently Asked Sit Up Ab Bench Questions 

Is the ab bench effective?

Yes! Using an ab bench not only allows you to train your abdominals, but you're able to perform a variety of exercises to target different muscles. Additionally, the ab bench allows you to modify the difficulty to suit your strength level and build up from there.

Is it possible to make a DIY sit up bench?  

Yes, and it’s fairly easy to do! You'll need access to 2x4 lumber and some power tools, though. Put simply - by cutting the wood down to size, you'll build a basic sit-up bench frame. If you're using flat wood for the footholds, you’ll need to add some padding. Otherwise, use dowels or metal rods to make it more comfortable. 

How often should you exercise on a sit up bench? 

Ideally, you want to be training your abs 2-3 times per week. With that said, be sure to include a variety of abdominal exercises to ensure that you target different core muscles. Include a combination of both incline and decline ab bench workouts for a complete ab workout.

How does the Abs Bench X2 work? 

The Abs Bench X2 features a dual pivot motion that allows you to do a double-crunch exercise, combining both forward and reverse crunch movements. This means you’ll be targeting the upper and lower abs at the same time. Additionally, you’re able to perform these movements either simultaneously or separately to suit your workout needs.


That wraps up our guide on how to use the sit up ab bench. Now that you know the benefits of using a sit-up bench and what exercises you can do, you'll be able to achieve your ab toning goals in no time!

Last Updated on February 12, 2023

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Andrew White

Andrew White is the co-founder of Garage Gym Pro. As an expert fitness professional (gym building nerd) with over 10 years of industry experience, he enjoys writing about everything there is to do with modern fitness & the newest market innovations for garage gyms. When he isn’t testing out products for his readers, he’s usually out surfing or playing basketball.