In my Strengthen Your Abs: 5 Great Abs Exercises video, some of you wanted me to discuss V-ups in more depth. So I have below 3 variations you can use depending on your fitness level. V-ups are a great exercise because they hit the entire rectus abdominus (six pack muscle) that extends from your pelvic region to your sternum.
Overall, this is a more advanced exercise that you should NOT attempt if you have any lower back issues, or experience any low back pain as you complete the exercise. I have video along with 5 tips to ensure you use excellent form every repetition.
V-ups: 3 Variations
1) Easy – Feet touch the ground each rep
2) Medium – Feet are off the ground the entire time
3) Hard – Hold a dumbbell in between your legs to make this exercise MUCH harder
V-ups Tip #1: Straight Neck
If you have neck issues, you should NOT try this exercise. Your hands are not helping support your head because they are extended behind you. Keep your neck straight, try not to push your head foreword too much and hyperextend your neck.
V-ups Tip #2: Legs Form 45 Degree Angle
Except in the first variation, your feet should never touch the ground. At the start of the movement, keep your feet about 6 inches off the ground, then lift them up to a 45 degree angle, then SLOWLY lower them back down. Your feet and toes should be flexed towards your body. If you want to make the exercise more challenging, you can add a dumbbell in between your feet, just be careful.
V-ups Tip #3: Back stays on the ground
When people normally do the V-up, also known as Jack Knives, they bring their shoulders a good foot off the ground, and their entire back raises off the floor. To really emphasize the lower abs, keep your back on the floor and only raise your shoulders a few inches from the floor. Your really thinking about controlling your legs.
V-ups Tip #4: Straight Arms
I’m not doing a good job of this in the video, but you want to keep your arms really straight and get a stretch in your abs at the bottom of the exercise. That’s really the whole point of straightening out your arms and stretching backwards. As you come up, bring your hands to your knees and forcibly contract your abs intensely.
V-ups Tip #5 Slow and Controlled
This is really the differentiator that makes this exercise very effective. As I discussed in tip #3, most people use momentum when completing this exercise (and most exercises in general). The key is to really control the movement and focus on the stretch and contraction. When I do abs, the bottom and the top of the movement are most important, the stretch, then the contraction. The mind muscle connection is powerful, so really focus on the burn.
So there you have it! If you are advanced enough to give this exercise a shot, let me know how it goes. I usually try to get 15 reps and rest minimally in between sets (under 20 seconds) to keep that abs burn.