Sit-ups: they’re the one exercise everyone has tried. Mostly because you can’t help it. Even as a baby it was one of the first things you learned – right after how to spit-up. You want to get out of bed in the morning? You sit up.

But these days sit-ups have gone from blase to being a raging topic of debate in the fitness world. They’re either the yellow brick road to brick-hard abs or they’re evil incarnate and not only are pointless (“you have to lose the fat first!!”) but may even be counterproductive by building – and I’m using the technical phrase here – pokey outey muscles. Madonna and Gwyneth Paltrow are reportedly in the former camp, regularly clocking hundreds of abs, sans roller, a day.

Britney Spears once bragged of doing 1,000 sit-ups a day to stay in Toxic snake-dancing form. In the other camp you have Angie Harmon who boasts of never intentionally sitting up unless she has an actual reason to do so, such as getting out of bed for a bikini shoot. Right along with her is Abtastic Spice Geri Haliwell who says her Bond girl stomach comes from eschewing abs and sticking with dog walking and yoga. I’ve yet to hear anyone, celeb or otherwise, say “Sit-ups? Meh. I do a few here and there. They’re all right.”

Regardless of which side of the ab spectrum you fall, there is a serious side effect to sit-ups that you should know about. (If I worked for Self or Vogue right now I’d be all “The Disastrous Exercise You ARE Doing That May Be RUINING YOUR HEALTH! Search madly for our non-existent table of contents to find this article before the grocery checker gets to your order or you WILL DIE!” Ahem.) Two friends, who shall remain nameless for reasons soon to become apparent, both came down with the same, um, medical condition. And they both got it from doing sit-ups.

Problems of the Butt

The official term is “posterior ulcer.” I call it blistered badonkadonk. Basically it happens when you do sit-ups in such a way as to rub all the skin off your tail bone. As painful as a carpet burn and as embarrassing as a bed sore, these ulcers can take months to fully heal. Knock on formica, I’ve never had this issue but it is hard to ignore when two super-fit girls in my life both did this to themselves in the same week.

I giggled. A lot. But it really isn’t funny (stop laughing!). These ladies both now have problems with anything that requires just basic sitting, even with out the -upping. In addition to experiencing serious ridicule from their friends and loved ones, they’ve had to put up with tons of invasive questions from me. True story: had a 20-minute convo on the treadmill about one friend’s blister. Nothings says “run on the free hand sanitizer” like oozing fluid talk on the tready!

So What To Do?

Both friends would like to maintain their lovely flat tummies and so were asking my advice as to what kinds of ab work they could do that didn’t involve leveraging off their broken butts. While I came up with hanging leg raises, the Roman chair and various Pilates moves, Women’s Health magazine did me one better:

Called “the craziest abs move ever invented,” the Wicked Wiper is supposed to be the best ab exercise out there. In fact, it’s so crazy your average fitness model can’t do it! If you read that last paragraph on the picture (click to enlarge) you’ll find:

Full disclosure: As for the ripped gal in our photos? Not even she could do it! We used photoshop magic to erase the dude holding her up.

I gotta say I was wondering how she was managing to smile while doing such a stunt. How’s that for truth in advertising?

So there you go – if you break your butt, you’ve always got the Wicked Wiper to keep you in shape. Or you could just ask Angie Harmon’s mom to please birth you.

How do you feel about ab work? Do you love to crunch, crunch, crunch? Or are you one who runs away if a Swiss ball even rolls in your general direction? Do you subscribe to a particular type of ab theory (Pilates? Yoga? Tupler?)

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