What are V-Ups? 

V-Ups are a great core exercise that targets the upper and lower abdominals. It requires you to lift the weights of your arms and legs off the ground by using only your abdominal muscles to form a V-shape. For those that do yoga, it is similar to the boat pose. Think of this as a combination of sit-ups and lying leg raises, in a single movement.

According to Harvard Medical School, strengthening your core will improve balance and stability, promote good posture, reduce lower back pains, and make everyday activities easier such as: putting on your shoes, picking up a package, or simply sitting on a chair.

What Muscles do V-Ups work?

The V-Up is a compound exercise the works on your core and lower body muscles at the same time. The primary muscles targeted are the rectus abdominis and the obliques. The secondary muscles targeted are the hip flexors, adductors, and quadriceps.

What Level is the V-Ups?

This exercise is for beginners as you will require only your body to practice this, but here’s the catch, you will be challenged to train your balance and coordinates because you will need to activate the whole abdominal wall, along with the rectus abdominis to balance your legs and arms in the air at the same time.

How to do V-Ups? 

1. Lie On The Floor

Begin by lying flat on your back with your arms extended over your head. Keep your feet together, toes pointed, and lift them up about 6 inches off the floor. Engage your core. This is your starting position.

2. Create a V-Shape

Exhale as your lift your torso and legs simultaneously to create a V-shape. Reach your arms up towards your shins. Keep both your arms and legs straight, and engage your core as you do this. 

3. Return To Starting Position

Inhale as you gradually lower your body down to the starting position, with your arms overhead and legs extending. Keep your feet at roughly 6 inches above the fround. This is one rep.

4. Repeat

Repeat this movement for a desired number of repetitions (see the recommended reps and sets range below).

V-Ups Workout

  • Beginners should perform between 5-8 reps, for 4 sets, 3 times a week.
  • Intermediate level athletes should perform between 9-19 reps, for 4 sets, 3 times a week.
  • Advanced level athletes should perform 20+ reps or more for 4 sets, 3 times a week.

You should move on to harder variations once you have achieved your reps and set goals.

V-Ups Benefits

Develop Core Strength

This is the most obvious one as the V-Ups are great for targeting the rectus abdominis, obliques, and hip flexors. You will be forced to utilize your core strength to lift up your torso and legs. The muscles involved will be seriously worked, especially the upper and lower abs. When done with proper form, you’ll start to see serious abs definition quickly. 

Improve Balance and Stability

V-Ups is an excellent exercise that advances your balance and stability. The movement of this exercise is unique, you may find your body to be wobbling and your core to be firing away to keep your body in balance. This is crucial as your core stabilizes your body, thus, strengthening them will improve your overall movement function. 

Improve Lower Back Health

Lower back pain is a bothersome problem that, unfortunately, most of us have experienced in some way shape, or form. A weak core will cause your body to rely more on your passive structures, in particular your ligaments and bones, which induces greater stress on your discs and thus increases your likelihood of injury. Strengthening your core is an excellent way to prevent these problems and better support your back.

Variations of V-Ups

V-sit Hold

This is a static variation where you will hold a “V” shape in a seated position with your legs and torso in the air. It targets the same muscles and will require a significant amount of core activation to keep your body in balance. To perform this, you will:

  1. Lie on your back with your arms straight overhead. Your legs are extended and your feet are together. This is your starting position.
  2. Exhale as you simultaneously lift your arms and legs off the ground by contracting your core. Reach your arms towards your shins to form a V-shape position between your legs and torso.
  3. Hold this position between 10-40 seconds for 4 sets.

In and Outs

In and outs is a regression variation to the V-Ups. The movement path is similar as you will lift both your legs and torso off the ground to bring them towards each other to create a V-like sitting position.This will work on your upper and lower abs. To perform this, you will:

  1. Begin in a seated position with your hands on the floor and legs slightly bent in front of you. Engage your core to keep ensure that your back is straight. 
  2. Inhale as you contract your core to simultaneously lift your hands off the floor, and picking your feet to draw your knees into your chest. Keep your core engaged to maintain a straight back. This is the “in” position of this exercise.
  3. Exhale as you lean back with a straight spine and straighten out your legs in front. Keep your core engaged to support your lower back. Thi is the “out” position of this exercise.
  4. Repeat this movement between 10-20 reps for 4 sets.

Alternating V-Ups

This variation is similar to the V-Up. The only difference is that you will alternate between each leg as you reach ups towards the V-Up position. To perform this, you will:

  1. Lie flat on your back with your arms overhead and legs straight in front of you. Keep your legs 6 inches above ground. This is your starting position.
  2. Exhale as you simultaneously lift one leg up towards the ceiling and crunch up your torso to reach you arm to touch the opposite shin. Engage your core throughout this movement. 
  3. Inhale as you lower back down to the starting position. Keep your feet 6 inches above ground. Repeat this movement on the opposite side.
  4. Repeat this movement between 6-20 reps for 4 sets

Oblique V-Ups

Oblique V-Up is a targeted exercise that isolates your abdominal muscles. The primary muscles worked are the internal oblique, external oblique, and rectus abdominis. To perform this, you will:

  1. Lie on your right side with both legs extended and feet are stacked on top of each other. Your right arm will be extended in front, and your left fingertips are behind your ear. This is the starting position.
  2. Exhale as you simultaneously lift both legs up towards the ceiling, and lifting the torso up to draw your left elbows towards your left knee. Your torso and your legs will form a “V” shape. Pause and squeeze the obliques at the top position.
  3. Inhale as you slowly return to the starting position. Perform equal reps on both sides.
  4. Repeat this movement between 8-20 reps for 4 sets.

About the Author

My name is Pat Chadwick, I am a calisthenics coach with over 4 years of experience in helping people from all backgrounds to achieve their calisthenics goals. My goal is to become the number one calisthenics coach in the world as it is my passion to help people change their lives through inspiring bodyweight movements. I believe everyone deserves the right to feel good about their health, body, and be delighted inside and out.