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Otis Ups (How-To Guide) Benefits & Proper Form to Ignite Abs

Connor Sellers
Published by Connor Sellers
Last updated: May 30, 2023

Athletes and bodybuilders who want to make their ab workouts count more with extremely intense exercises should switch from doing regular crunches to Otis ups.

As a personal fitness coach, I’ve seen a lot of people completely transform their abdominal muscles within weeks to achieve those ripped six-packs.

But switching to Otis ups means paying a lot more attention to your form.

I’ve seen too many make mistakes and end up with back issues, so we decided to put this guide together with detailed instructions and variations.

Quick Summary

  • Doing standard crunches will get you so far towards chiseled abdominal muscles, but unless you adapt the movement, you won’t target the upper and lower abs.
  • The Otis up exercise is ideal for targeting the full abs, and with some variations, you can also achieve a lot more with fewer reps.
  • Getting your upper body and core in shape will also come with great benefits like improved stability and balance.

How To Do The Otis Up 

A person doing Otis Ups in the gym

Let me show you how to perform Otis up abs workouts for maximum results in your abdominal area.

Here is how to do the basic version, with a more advanced option below:

  • Get into the starting position sitting on the ground with your feet flat on the floor and knees bent.
  • Find a sturdy object like the frame of an exercise machine or some dumbbells to put your feet under for stability.
  • From a lying down position, bring your upper body up while trying to keep your spine perfectly straight.
  • As you raise your body, stretch your arms up over your head and look up.
  • Slowly lower back down to the starting position and do as many reps as possible.

The goal is to do this slowly with proper form.

Don’t round out your spine on the way up and down, as you also want to engage your hip flexors by exercising [1].

“The hip flexor muscles are a group of muscles situated near the top of your thighs that allow you to lift your knee toward your chest, squat, and bend forward at the hip.”

- Cara Beth Lee, MD

Benefits Of This Exercise 

A person doing Otis Ups

The most obvious benefit of the Otis up exercise is that you target your core muscles and hip flexors in one movement.

That includes the full set of abs because of that upward stretch movement, and that will give you much better core stability [2].

Having that stronger core will also improve balance in your upper body, especially when you’re lifting heavy weights in strength training like squats.

And let’s not forget the aesthetics of achieving rock-solid abs as you’ve never had before.

Otis Up Variation

The best way to add variation to the Otis up abs exercise is by adding resistance and making these sets into weighted exercises for even more core strength. 

The way you do that is by holding onto a weight plate in front of your chest.

As you raise your body, slowly lift the plate up over your head and hold it for two seconds.

Then lower yourself back down again.

Try to add more weight as you get stronger and keep the reps down.

This can make a huge difference in the effect on your core.

What Muscles Do Otis Ups Work?

A graphic of the muscles that are being worked on an otis up

Otis-ups target multiple muscle groups in the upper body, including the abs, delts, and hip flexors.

I’ll list them all out here based on doing the weight plate variation.

Abs: You’ll feel this exercise right from the start in your core muscles, including your upper abs, and the slower you do the movement, the more impact it will have.

Hip Flexors: These muscles are located inside your pelvis, and they play a key role in flexing your hip joint and lifting up your legs [3].

Delts: When you use a weight plate and push it up over your head as part of this exercise, then you’ll also add great strain to your delts [4].


Are Otis Ups Good For Abs?

Yes, Otis ups are good for your abs and core. They are significantly more effective than doing just crunches or leg raises as you get an impact on the upper and lower abs as well as hip flexor muscles.

Are Otis Ups Better Than Crunches?

Yes, Otis ups are better than crunches. By keeping a straight back and raising your arms up, you add a lot more strain on your core. And adding a weight plate can make this an even more effective workout.

Boost Recovery To Amplify Results From Otis Up Workouts

When it comes to your abs and core, there’s no better way to make the most out of your workout than Otis ups.

The first time you do a few sets, your muscles will be burning like hell.

To make sure you recover faster from such strain, I would also recommend a high-quality protein powder:

We have tested dozens of these to come up with a list of products that pass our quality standards.


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