One-Legged Janda Sit-Ups

The Janda sit-up, as demonstrated in Pavel’s Bullet-Proof Abs book and Beyond Crunches video has been a staple exercise for me and the people I train. Ideally, it is best to use the Ab Pavelizer when practicing Janda sit-ups. If you find yourself in a situation where one is not available, don’t panic. In a pinch, a training partner, two-72 pound kettlebells, or a few sandbags to provide resistance against the back of your calves will suffice. A few weeks back, I found myself training literally out in the middle of “nowhere”. On this particular morning, I wanted to finish my training session with some heavy ab work. This was one of those rare occasions where I could not find something suitable to perform the hanging leg raise from. All I had was a 100-pound York dumbbell. I performed a set of Windmills, but my abs were not at all challenged. I decided to go to the old stand by – Janda sit-ups. I searched for light weights to hold to increase the resistance but found nothing. Instead of sniveling, I decided to get creative. Next, I performed one set of traditional Janda sit-ups, then immediately perform the windmill. I noticed my abs working a lot harder during the windmill. I still needed to add resistance to the Janda sit-up. Since I couldn’t add weights to my hands, I decide to try a Janda sit-up while lifting one leg off the ground. I could feel my abs work harder. On the next set, I decided to concentrate more on obliques by dropping my elbow down the middle. The next set of windmills really felt great. I experimented some more and listed below are some of the more challenging one-legged Janda sit-up variations.

Variation 1

Assume the Janda sit-up starting position. Extend one leg while making sure the other foot is firmly planted on the ground. Perform the Janda sit-up keeping one leg in the air. After 3-5 reps, switch legs and perform another 3-5 reps.

Note: Left foot is not resting on the plates


Variation 2

Begin this exercise the same way as you would in variation 1. As you reach the top position, drop your elbow between your legs. Note: if your right foot is planted, then you drop your right elbow (vise versa). Stay tight and keep good form. Perform 3-5 reps then switch sides. You will immediately notice the difference in your obliques.

Note: Left foot is not resting on the plates


Variation 3

This is the hardest variation. Plant your right foot on the ground and instead of keeping your left leg straight, bend it and secure your left foot behind your right knee. You can sit straight up (as in variation 1) or you can drop the same side elbow (as in variation 2). This is by far the most challenging variation.


Any of the above variations work great by themselves but the real results come when you combine them with heavy windmills. Remember, you don’t have to always perform the windmill with the weight overhead. Instead, try performing your windmills by pulling the weight from the floor. The key to activating your abs is to concentrate on your power breathing (i.e. actively exhale) on your way up. This will enable your abs to powerfully contract, resulting in an easier and safer exercise. Even though I used a 100-pound dumbbell on the day I did this experiment, the windmill felt ridiculously effortless. Remember train smart and keep the groove greased. Enjoy!