Rocky Sit Ups – Complete Exercise Guide

If you want to learn something challenging and demanding to add to your ab workouts, then rocky sit ups can help you out. “Rocky sit ups” also known as the “Dragon flags” is a difficult ab exercise and performing it will make you feel and look like a superhuman to yourself and even others.

In this article, we are going to look at what are rocky sit ups, how to perform them, their benefits, alternatives, and much more. Let’s begin.

What are Rocky Sit Ups?

The rocky sit ups also known as the dragon flag is an amazing and tough abs exercise that can be used to build some serious abs strength and definition. The exercise by the name of  “Rocky sit ups” was made popular by Rocky Balboa in the movie Rocky IV. While with the name “Dragon flags”, the exercise was popularized by none other than the Legend Bruce Lee himself.

The exercise can help in making your abs rock solid which indeed justifies its name rocky sit-ups. Although, if you are a beginner or have just minimal core strength then performing this exercise will be tough for you.

Before performing and learning this exercise it’s important to have some strength in your abdominal muscles and stability in the core.

Related: Spread Eagle Sit Ups – Complete Exercise Guide

How to Perform The Rocky Sit Ups?

As mentioned above you will need some core strength and stability to perform this exercise, but there’s no need to worry if you do not have enough strength as you can always build it up and gain strength and stability by performing easier ab exercises first.

Now let’s take a look at how to perform the rocky sit ups.

Step 1: Lie down on the floor with something you can grab overhead. This might be a bench, a pole or anything else just make sure the thing is sturdy and has enough strength.

Step 2: Hold the pole firmly with your hands behind your head. Engage your core and legs. This is the starting position.

Step 3: Now start raising your body upwards until your body is almost vertical to the floor making sure your shoulder blades are attached to the floor.

Step 4: Start lowering your body in a slow and controlled manner. Try to go as slow as possible and do not touch the ground.

Step 5: Repeat for the desired number of reps and sets.

Important Points:

  • Throughout the movement make sure to keep your core and glutes engaged and tight.
  • Make sure to keep your body straight during the whole exercise and do not bend your legs until you are trying to learn it.
  • For extra challenge hold the body at 45 degrees for a few seconds.
  • Only your upper back and shoulders should be touching the ground during the movement.
  • Do not arch your back during the movement as it might lead to injuries.
  • You can make the exercise easier by bending one leg and doing it with only one leg.
  • Make sure to warm up thoroughly before performing the rocky sit ups. 

Related: Janda Sit-Ups – Complete Exercise Guide

Rocky Sit Ups – Muscles Worked

Here is a list of muscles that rocky sit ups work.

  • Rectus Abdominus
  • Obliques
  • Latissimus Dorsi
  • Glutes
  • Hip Flexors
  • Erector Spinae
  • Quads
  • Shoulder Muscles
  • Upper Back Muscles

Benefits of The Rocky Sit Ups

rocky sit ups

The rocky sit ups are an awesome ab exercise with various benefits. Rocky sit ups are an important exercise for advanced athletes. It provides an effective way to develop upper body strength, muscular endurance, and core strength, while also helping to improve balance, coordination, and stability.

Doing rocky-sit ups regularly can help to increase core and shoulder stability, increase joint mobility, improve posture and reduce the risk of injury. Also, it is not only an amazing exercise of the core, it can also be called a full-body exercise because it trains various muscles of the body from the upper body to the lower body.  

Additionally, it can furthermore help to improve body composition, as it requires a great deal of energy to perform.

Overall, rocky sit ups are an effective full-body exercise for advanced athletes. They offer a range of benefits and can help to improve overall strength and stability.

Related: Frog Sit Ups – Complete Exercise Guide

Alternatives to Rocky Sit Ups

There are many great ab exercises that could become an alternative and modification to rocky sit ups. Here are some of them.



If you are looking for an ab exercise then you cannot go wrong with the plank. The plank has many variations depending upon difficulty but standard planks also just work fine. This exercise will also help in working your deltoids and obliques. To perform the plank-

  1. Start by getting into a push up position with your arms extended and toes touching the ground. Make sure your wrists are aligned with your shoulders.
  2. Now lower down and get on your elbows and they should make a 90-degree angle.
  3. Hold the position and maintain the straight position of your spine. Do not arch or curve your back.
  4. Make sure your hips also stay aligned and do not drop your hips low or go above shoulder level.
  5. Hold the position for 30 sec or more depending on yourself.
  6. Repeat.

You can also try different plank variations if you have already mastered standard planks.

Hanging Leg Raise

hanging leg raise
Lio putra/shutterstock

This is a popular ab exercise that involves the hanging element as well. This means you will not only be training your abs but also improving your grip strength. Additionally, you will also target your obliques and hip flexors. You will need a pull up bar in this exercise. To perform the hanging leg raise-

  1. Hang on the pull up bar using an overhand grip. Hang straight with your toes above the ground.
  2. Engage your core and start to raise your legs until they make a 90-degree angle. You can raise your legs above 90 degrees depending on your level. 
  3. Squeeze your core and hold at the top for a few sec.
  4. Start lowering down again.
  5. Repeat for the desired number of sets and reps.

If you are a beginner and having difficulty performing the exercise this means either your core, grip, or hip flexors are not strong enough. You can do some easier exercises to train your grip, hip flexors, and core to build up strength to perform this exercise. You could also try bending your knees and performing the hanging leg raise.

Hollow Body Hold

hollow body hold

The exercise looks easier than it actually is. This is just another ab exercise that will challenge many beginners and intermediates. To perform the hollow body hold-

  1. Lie on your back with your arms on the sides and legs straight.
  2. Slowly and in a controlled manner, start raising your legs, arms, head, and shoulder blades off the ground simultaneously.
  3. With arms raised your biceps should be next to your ears. Also, your legs should be together.
  4. Hold the position for 20 seconds and then release.
  5. Repeat.

You may want to hold the position for longer depending on your level. If you are not able to perform for 20 seconds then try going for a lesser time. As you progress you will be able to perform the exercise for a longer period of time.

Safety Instructions For Performing Rocky Sit Ups

Rocky sit ups or Dragon flags is a challenging exercise and involve a risk of injury if done without proper form or without optimal strength. Here are some safety measurements you should keep in mind.

  • First of all, make sure to warm up nicely and thoroughly as rocky sit ups are a tough exercise and come with a risk of an injury.
  • Do not arch your back. Arching your back will put unnecessary tension on your back and might cause a back injury.
  • Maintain a straight body throughout the movement.
  • While performing the movement make sure the weight is on the shoulder and upper back, not on the neck. 
  • If you are having trouble performing the exercise then do not take the risk and try easier variations and progressions to build up the optimal strength.

Wrap Up

Rocky sit ups are an amazing abs exercise that is challenging to perform but will provide massive benefits. Today, it is most popularly known as dragon flags.

The name “Rocky sit ups” was popularised by Rocky Balboa in the movie Rocky IV and the name “Dragon flags” was popularized by Bruce Lee.

The rocky sit ups can be hard for beginners and intermediates, but by performing easier variations and doing practice you can start performing full reps of it. You just need to have patience. The exercise works various muscle groups from the upper body to the lower body with the main focus being the abdominal muscles.

While performing the exercise we have to keep in mind some safety measures as the exercise is difficult and has the potential to cause an injury.

In the end, the rocky sit ups are an awesome advanced exercise that you should definitely learn and if already learned, you should definitely include it in your ab workouts.

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