V-Sits Improve Balance and Core Stability—Here's What You Need to Know

V-Sit

Getty/Design by Cristina Cianci

Tired of crunches and sit-ups? If you’re looking for an advanced ab exercise that improves your balance and core stability, v-sits are for you. Though it’s an advanced move, the v-sit is easy to learn. Exercisers of all levels can benefit from practicing it once they’re safely learned how to do it and have the needed core strength acquired from other ab work.

For everything you need to know about a v-sit—from how to and why you should do it—we talked with Dani Losefo, Coach for STRIDE Little Italy, and Katie Kollath, ACE, Co-Founder of Barpath Fitness.

Meet the Expert

  • Dani Losefo is a coach for STRIDE Little Italy.
  • Katie Kollath, ACE, is a co-founder of Barpath Fitness.

What Is A V-Sit?

The key to a v-sit lies in the first letter: your goal is to make your body into the shape of a 'V.' If you have done yoga or Pilates before, it may be helpful to know that the v-sit is a more advanced version of a boat pose. 

This ab exercise is performed on a mat on the floor, face up. Both your arms and your legs will be off the ground. For the full move without any modifications, your arms are extended straight out in front of you, your back is at a 45-degree angle off the floor, and your legs are extended straight in front of you also at a 45-degree angle. That is how you achieve the V shape.

A v-sit can be either a stabilizing exercise held in its extended position for a duration of time, or you can do it in repetitions where you move into and out of it. It is the most challenging for your balance when you’re sitting in a held position, as you must not allow yourself to topple to either side. Because it takes time to build the strength to hold it for a prolonged period of time, generally, once you can achieve the shape, your next step is to hold it for a moment, release the position, then repeat. It’s normal to begin with just a moment in the V shape and just a few exercise repetitions. 

Benefits Of V-Sits

  • They improve your balance, as you have to stay perfectly centered to not fall to the side. 
  • You use a variety of muscles. Losefo tells us they “Target the entire core as well as your hip flexors, which is very important for runners.”
  • They’re great for coordination. Kollath says this is because “there are many working parts that make the move click!” 
  • You don’t need any equipment. This move is done on a mat on the floor. 
  • They’re more difficult than other common ab exercises. While this isn’t a benefit for all people, for advanced exercisers, who are seeking a next-level ab workout without it’s a helpful addition to their routine.

Proper V-Sit Form

  • Start in the right position: you should be seated on the floor before beginning the move. Your toes should point upward, and you should extend them in front of you.
  • When you lift your arms and legs into the 45-degree angle, Kollath says to contract your abs. This is important throughout the move.
  • Posture is key! Kollath suggests you “try to maintain good posture as you reach upward, and remember to breathe throughout the movement.”
  • You should contract your abs before lowering back to the starting position at the top of the move. 
  • Take your time! Kollath tells us to move slowly as you lean back into your starting position. 
  • Losefo says that the “number one most important thing during a V-sit hold is that perfect linear visual of our lower body and our upper body.” To be sure you are making the correct shape, she suggests “pulling up that pelvic floor to brace it down while controlling our breath while to make our cylinder as long and straight as possible is a vital component to hold this challenging exercise.”

Common V-Sit Mistakes

Because this is an advanced move, it’s common to make mistakes when starting with it. Kollath says that “a common mistake with the v sit is swinging the arms to generate momentum as the person raises the arms towards the feet.” That’s vital not to do because you want the motion of pulling upward to be originating in your abs, and using your arms would then defeat the purpose. To avoid this mistake, Katie suggests you “try to keep the arms parallel to the floor as you reach upward.”

As with any ab move, doing this with improper form can lead to back pain or even injury. Losefo says that “if any part of our cylinder in the core is compromised or not firing properly, we start to see bad outcomes, like overuse injuries or pain.” That means it’s vital to keep your abs contracted at all key points of the move. 

Additionally, Kollath tells us that rounding your upper back and/or your shoulders ”will put more strain on the lower back,” so that too is best avoided. 

The Best V-Sit Modifications

If the v-sit is a bit advanced for you as it's a full, long-held position, you’re not alone. Rest assured that you can get there, though! Doing these modifications first will help you transition to being able to perform a v-sit. 

  • An easier exercise than the v-sit that focuses on similar muscles is the dead bug, so you may want to start with that move first. To correctly set up for a dead bug, Losefo tells us to “lay supine on the ground, bend the knees and hips to a 90-degree angle at both joints, and raise arms straight up to the sky.”  
  • A second easier that’s easier than the v-sit is a tuck-up. To describe that, Kollath says, “this is where you bend the knees as you bring them towards your chest, as opposed to reaching for the "V" shape as you sit up.” If this is still challenging for you, she says, “you can support yourself even more (if needed) by resting the hands on the floor behind your butt.”
  • A half v-sit is the best modification for those close to being able to perform the move, but not all the way there. To do a partial v-sit, Losefo says that you’ll be “either anchoring down the upper body onto elbows or anchoring down the lower body with bent knees and feet on the ground while the opposite half is maintaining the straight V-position.”

The Takeaway

A v-sit is an advanced ab workout move that also challenges and improves your balance. The goal, once your legs and arms are in the V shape position at 45 degrees up each, is to hold it for as long as possible. Until this is achievable, you can instead move into and back out of the move without holding it for more than a moment at a time. 

Because it is difficult to do a v-sit, you may benefit from starting with an exercise that is a modified version of this one. Those include tuck ups and dead bugs. Once you are ready for a v-sit, be sure to contract your abs when raising and lowering yourself and to work slowly through the move. A v-sit is a tough move--and that means it can make for a fun new ab challenge!

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