Start Position
End Position

Starting position:

  1. Lie face up on the floor with legs extended and arms extended overhead.

Upward movement/concentric phase:

  1. Flex hips bringing both legs up. Keep legs straight.
  2. At the same time, raise your upper body off of the floor.
  3. As your upper body lifts off the mat, bring arms down from overhead and point hands towards elevated feet.
  4. At the end of the upward phase, your body will be in the shape of a “V” and your rear-end will be supporting your weight on the floor.
  5. Beginners may do this exercise by bending their knees on the upward phase and reaching straight ahead with arms instead of upward.

Downward movement/eccentric phase:

    1. In a controlled fashion, slowly return legs and upper body back to starting position without letting head lower to floor.
Do not allow the legs and upper body to drop. Do not bounce legs or upper body at the bottom of the movement. Do not hold your breath. Exhale during the concentric phase and inhale during the eccentric phase.


Exercise Data

  • Primary Muscles: Rectus abdominis, rectus femoris, iliopsoas
  • Synergists: Sartorius, external oblique, internal oblique
  • Stabilizers: Transverse abdominis, quadratus lumborum, iliocostalis
  • Type: Strength, hypertrophy, muscular endurance
  • Mechanics: Hip and trunk flexion
  • Equipment: Floor mat
  • Lever: 3rd class lever
  • Level: Intermediate to advanced

    What Is A V-Up?

    A V-up is an exercise, which involves the abdominal muscles and hip flexors. This exercise is performed on the floor or exercise mat. The concentric portion of the exercise is hip and trunk flexion. The eccentric portion is hip and trunk extension.

    The purpose of V-ups is to strengthen the abdominal muscles and hip flexors while promoting the hypertrophy (increases in size) of these muscle groups.

    Why Do A V-Up?

    V-ups stress the fibers of the lower region of the rectus abdominis as it raises the legs upward. Therefore, V-ups contribute to improving the aesthetics of the lower abdominal area. As the legs are raised, the trunk begins to flex, further activating the rectus abdominis. Promoting overall hypertrophy of the abdominal muscles helps define the “6-pack” of the rectus abdominis.

    Strengthening the abdominal muscles offers protective effects for the lower back as the abdominals play a role in stabilizing the torso. Stronger abdominals and hip flexors also complement exercise and sports performance as they can contribute to biomechanical efficiency during physical activity and exercise.

    Anatomy Of A V-Up

    The abdominal wall is made up of broad, flat sheet-like muscles that are layered. The rectus abdominis is a vertical muscle that extends from the pubic crest and symphysis (at the pelvis) to the rib cage (xiphoid process and costal cartilages of ribs 5-7). The rectus abdominis is segmented by three tendinous intersections that run horizontally across the rectus abdominis. This tendon outlines the “6-pack” of the rectus abdominis along with the linea alba, a tendinous seam that runs down vertically, dividing the “6-pack” in half.

    The iliopsoas is a primary hip flexor. It is made up of two muscles, the iliacus and the psoas major. Its origin is located at the iliac fossa of the pelvis and the ala of the sacrum. Its insertion is located at the lesser trochanter of the femur.

    The rectus femoris is a superficial quadriceps muscle located at the anterior thigh. It is the only quadriceps muscle that crosses the hip joint. The rectus femoris extends at the knee and flexes the thigh at the hip (as with the hip flexion in V-Ups). Its origin is located at the pelvis bone (at the anterior inferior iliac spine and superior margin of the acetabulum). Its insertion is located at the patella (knee cap) and tibial tuberosity (just below the knee cap on the tibia bone) via the patellar ligament.

    The sartorius is a superficial muscle of the anterior thigh that runs diagonally across the thigh – from the hip to the knee. It flexes, abducts and laterally rotates the thigh (as with checking the bottom of your shoe). Its origin is at the anterior iliac spine of the pelvis and its insertion is at the upper, inner portion of the tibia bone.

    The oblique muscles assist the rectus abdominis with flexion of the vertebral column. The external oblique muscle runs downward and medially and forms the inguinal ligament of the groin area. Its origin is at the outer surfaces of the lower eight ribs and it inserts into the linea alba via a broad aponeurosis. Some of the fibers of the external oblique insert into the pubic crest and iliac crest.

    The internal oblique, as its name suggests, is located below the superficial external oblique. Its fibers run in an upward and medial direction. Its origin is located at lumbar fascia, iliac crest and inguinal ligament. Its insertion is located at the linea alba, the pubic crest and the last three or four ribs.

    The transverse abdominis is the deepest muscle of the abdominal wall with fibers running horizontally. This stabilizing muscle compresses the abdominal contents. Its origin is located at the inguinal ligament, lumbar fascia, iliac crest and the cartilage of the last six ribs. It inserts at the linea alba and the pubic crest.

    This exercise also requires stability from the back muscles. The quadratus lumborum forms part of the posterior abdominal wall located in the lumbar region (lower back). The iliocostalis is the most lateral of the erector spinae back muscles. It extends from the pelvis to the neck.

    Variations Of A V-Up

    Bent-knee V-ups.

    How To Improve Your V-Ups

    The abdominal muscles are working all day, every day, when you are physically active. Therefore, a greater overload stimulus is required to stimulate growth of the abdominals when isolating them during exercise. V-Ups provide your rectus abdominis with overload stimulus as the exercise is ranked higher in difficulty.

    You may increase the intensity of the V-Ups by taking shorter rest periods (e.g. 30 seconds) between sets, holding the peak of the concentric contraction/upward phase for multiple seconds until volitional failure at the end of a set, and/or adding resistance by holding a plate or medicine ball.

    After mastering the technique of the V-Up, you may advance to hanging leg raises.

    Emphasis on eccentric contractions, prolonging the descent phase of the legs lowering, may also be incorporated with an abdominal training program focused on increasing strength. This should be implemented accordingly and with adequate muscle recovery as eccentric contractions cause substantial damage to muscle tissue and/or delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).

    Strategically varying your intensity, rest times and volume (number of repetitions in a set) will optimize abdominal development with time.

    Common Mistakes When Doing V-Ups

    Dropping your legs and upper body on the eccentric/downward phase removes an important component of this exercise’s potential to activate the rectus abdominis. Bouncing the legs and upper body off of the floor at the bottom of the movement before the next concentric/upward phase also minimizes the activation of the abdominals. Therefore, it is important to lower the legs and upper body slowly on the downward phase when returning to the floor.

    When incorporating abdominal training into your exercise regimen it is important to evaluate what other exercises you are doing in that training session. For example, it may not be best to train abdominals on the same day as performing deadlifts and squats as those exercises fatigue the abdominals substantially. Training abdominals before or after a training session that involves smaller muscle groups (e.g. calves, biceps, triceps) may be suitable, as it will not interfere with the quality of the overall training session.

    Injuries Or Ailments & Their Effects Regarding V-Ups

    Performing V-Ups without being accustomed and/or with added resistance beyond the lifter’s capacity can result in injury to the abdominal tissue.