How to Do a V-Sit

Proper Form, Variations, and Common Mistakes

Woman on yoga mat doing a v-sit exercise

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Also Known As: V-ups, V situps

Targets: Abdominals

Level: Intermediate

The V-sit ab exercise builds core strength by working multiple areas of the core at the same time, while also challenging your balance. In this exercise, you sit with legs extended and torso off the ground, your body forming a V shape. If you are a beginner you can modify it to use a bit of assistance from your hands, or do it with bent legs. Intermediate exercisers can add this exercise to abdominal and core workouts.


The V-sit an effective way to target the rectus abdominis, external obliques, internal obliques, and hip flexors while improving core and trunk balance. You are not alone if you are unable to do more than 10 to 12 of the V-sit ab exercise before you reach failure. Feeling the burn means the exercise is working.

Building your core strength, balance, and coordination can help you maintain good posture, catch yourself to avoid falls, and perform better at a variety of physical activities. For those who've done yoga or Pilates before, this movement will look a bit familiar. It's similar to the Boat Pose, and adds an added lift of the arms and legs to move into a V-shaped position.


Watch Now: V-Sit Ab Exercise to Build Core Strength

Step-by-Step Instructions

Begin in a seated position with hands and feet on the floor.

  1. Contract your abdominal muscles and core slowly and lift your legs up to an extended position at a 45-degree angle with your torso.
  2. Reach your arms straight forward or reach up toward your shins as you are able. It's important to maintain good core posture and a strong spine throughout the movement and to avoid rounding the shoulders forward. Don't hold your breath—continue to breathe deeply during the movement.
  3. Hold this V-shaped position for several seconds to begin. As you get stronger, hold the position longer.
  4. Return to your starting position slowly while continuing to keep your abs engaged and tight.
  5. Just before you reach the floor, stop and hold the position for a few seconds.
  6. Repeat this entire movement several times.

Common Mistakes

Avoid these errors to get the most from this exercise.

Rounding Back and Shoulders

One of the most common mistakes made during the V-sit is rounding the back and shoulders at the top of the exercise. A true V-sit ab exercise results in the back and legs creating a V at the top. Bending your back forward takes the focus off the core and puts a strain on the lower back, leaving less control work for your abs making the exercise less effective.

While doing this makes the exercise easier, it can be more dangerous for your back. Instead, maintain a straight line from your lower back up through your back, neck, and head. All of your body should stay straight from starting position throughout the movement. 

Swinging the Arms

Another mistake made during the V-sit is swinging the arms up when you lift your legs and back. Moving the arms lowers the effectiveness of the exercise on the core muscles. Instead, start with your arms at your sides at the starting position.

When you lift, your arms should stay parallel to the ground as they were at your sides. You should not point your fingers to your toes, rather your arms should stay parallel to the floor as you lift.

Modifications and Variations

The V-sit is an intermediate ab exercise, so you may need to work up to the full version. Once you are proficient, you can add further challenges.

Need a Modification?

If you are new to the V-sit, remember form is more important than the number of reps you do.

At first, you can support your trunk on your elbows to keep your stability as you raise your legs. The next progression is to support your trunk with your arms extended (and elbow soft or slightly bent) and contacting the floor near your hips. Once you are able to do the exercise with good form, you can progress to doing it with arms raised parallel to the floor.

A modified V-sit ab exercise will help you build form and core strength if the full version is too challenging. Instead of the legs being straight throughout the movement, the knees bend at a 90-degree angle and are brought towards the chest as you lift. When you release or lower the legs are straightened back to the starting position. Throughout the modified V-sit, your back and head alignment remain straight. 

Up for a Challenge?

You can make this exercise more of a challenge by doing it while seated on an unstable surface, such as a balance disk or a BOSU trainer.

Safety and Precautions

If you have any back or neck problems, talk to your doctor or physical therapist about whether this exercise is appropriate for you. If not done with proper form, it can compress the spine and stress the neck. You can expect to feel your core muscles working, even burning, but stop if you feel any sharp pain.

Avoid this exercise after the first trimester of pregnancy, as soon as the belly expands.

Try It Out

Incorporate this move into one of these popular workouts:

5 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Seo J, Chung Y. The effects of different V-sit positions on abdominal muscle activationPTRS. 2020;9(3):201-208. doi:10.14474/ptrs.2020.9.3.201

  2. Ko D-S, Jung D-I, Jeong M-A. Analysis of core stability exercise effect on the physical and psychological function of elderly women vulnerable to falls during obstacle negotiationJ Phys Ther Sci. 2014;26(11):1697-1700. doi:10.1589/jpts.26.1697

  3. McCall P. American Council on Exercise. Why does my back hurt when I do sit-ups? Am I doing something wrong or should I avoid them? May 12, 2020.

  4. American Council on Exercise. V-ups.

  5. Hinman SK, Smith KB, Quillen DM, Smith MS. Exercise in pregnancySports Health. 2015;7(6):527-531. doi:10.1177/1941738115599358

By Elizabeth Quinn, MS
Elizabeth Quinn is an exercise physiologist, sports medicine writer, and fitness consultant for corporate wellness and rehabilitation clinics.