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The Mother Of All Abdominal Exercises (instructional video included)

If you're looking for the mother of all body-weight abdominal exercises, this is the one. Not only can this exercise give you 6 pack abs, but it also strengthens your entire lumbo-pelvic hip complex, also known as your core. Few abdominal exercises can do that.

The V-up exercise (aka jackknives) is the epitome of body-weight abdominal exercises. It does not require any equipment, just your body weight. However, it is also one of the most difficult abdominal exercises to perform. Below are three variations of the V-up exercise so you can work yourself up to performing the full V-up and getting all the benefits from this exercise.

How to perform the V-up:
  1. Start by lying down on your back either on the floor or a mat. Extend your arms behind your head and your legs straight out, with your feet touching.

  2. Raise both your arms and legs slightly off the floor, this is the start position.

  3. Keeping your feet together and toes pointed, slowly lift your legs up at the same time as you lift your upper body. Reach for your toes with your hands and squeeze your abdominal muscles in.

  4. Exhale out when lifting up so you get full range of motion (inhale when you return to the start position).

  5. Make sure to keep your low back pressed into the floor/mat throughout the exercise, so it doesn't arch.

If you are new to V-ups or find them too difficult to perform correctly, try these modifications:
  1. While lying on the floor, bend your knees and raise your legs to 90 degrees. Crunch up reaching your hands past your knees, then return them to the mat keeping your legs in the 90 degree position. When you've mastered this movement, move on to the next phase:

  2. Perform the V-up as described in the description, but rest your body completely back onto the floor/mat in between each repetition.

Sets and reps:
  • Beginners can start with 1-3 sets of 12-15 reps, resting 1-2 minutes between sets.

  • Advanced folks can perform 4-6 sets of 20-25 reps, resting 30-60 seconds between sets.

See the video below for how to perform the V-up exercise, including its modifications.

For more exercises to improve your performance for fitness and self-defense, get my book, The Short Fight, on Amazon at

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Until next time, Stay Fit!

Lawrence Castanon,

Author, The Short Fight

The V-up Abdominal and Core Exercise


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