Sit-ups are somewhat synonymous of abdominal exercise development. While the muscles surrounding your abdomen get an amazing workout from kung fu training (particularly kicks), there are many exercises that focus on developing strength and endurance in those muscles (rectus abdominis and obliques). Many of these exercises are performed in class from time to time, but are always great to add to your post-class routine in conjunction with push-ups and some stretching. They are also a great exercise to perform at home as a self-study.
This exercise works the upper abdominal muscles. Lay down on your back with a straight body (or with slightly bent knees) and cross your arms over your body and have your hands on the opposite shoulder. The movement is quick and simple – just lift your head and look at your toes. When you see them, let your head back down to the ground. A very basic exercise for those just starting to work their abdominal muscles. For those of you who have no problem doing these, try doing them as quickly as possible up to 100. If that didn’t test your muscles, then try doing 200. Then move on to the next exercise.
This works the sides of your rectus abdominis, as well as the obliques. Lay on your back, put your hands behind your head, and lift your legs off the ground. Twist your body to touch your right elbow to your left knee, then immediately release and touch the left elbow to the right knee. If you do these quick enough, it looks like your riding a bike, hence the name, bicycles (or bicycle crunches).
This works the lower abdomen. Lay on your back with your arms at your sides pressing down and your head raised off the ground. Bring your knees up to your chest and shoot your feet straight up above your head. Reverse the motion to complete one repetition. This exercise is also good for the spine.
These are only a few of the multitude of exercises that work the mid-section. As mentioned, the muscles of your abdomen are used a lot during training (think of turn kicks) and it is for this reason that various types of sit-ups are helpful for building strength and endurance. Try them when you wake up in the morning, during commercials, after class, etc. – you will notice the benefits within a week or two.