Want to know what torture feels like but don’t feel like going to Iraq? Give the V-Sit a try!
You know I’m only kidding but this exercise will truly test your spirit. Get ready to have cramps and have the wind sucked out of your lungs.
It’s hard but hard work always pays off! You’ll be glad you went through this ordeal when you’ll have developed such compression power that you could almost (“almost” being the operative word here) haul a tank with the power of your abs.
As we did with feat #01, let’s not get ahead of ourselves, though. Before we can dream about cracking nuts with our 6-pack, we first got to get it in proper condition.
Progression I: the Hanging Knee Raise
The perfect move to start working towards the V-Sit is the regular hanging knee raise. Just like the plank, it’s nothing to write home about, but it’s a useful exercise nonetheless to get us started on the right foot. For this progression (and the few that follow), you’ll need a pull-up bar or any object you can hang from as we’ll be using our legs to provide the resistance/tension necessary to working our core. Hanging from that bar, you will thus:
- Lift your knees up until your thighs are parallel to the floor;
- Pause for a sec;
- Bring your legs back to their resting position.
Your arms should be extended and relaxed during the entire exercise, and you should really focus on using your lower abs to have your knees move up.
Progression II: the Hanging Leg Raise
Once again, the difficulty will be upped by playing with levers and decreasing our mechanical advantage.
By keeping our legs straight instead of bending at the knees, we’ll bring the weight further away from our center, which will in turn increase the torque on our abdominals.
In essence, the move will remain the same; hanging from a bar, lift your legs until they’re parallel to the floor, then bring them back down in a controlled manner.
Progression III: the Tuck L-Sit
OK, we’ve done enough raises for now; it’s time to move to isometric exercises that will better mimic the mechanics of the V-Sit and which will prepare us for the later progressions.
In a way, the Tuck L-Sit can be considered to be a knee raise where you will be holding the knees up for a certain amount of time. The big difference between the two exercises, if not for the static hold, lies in the fact that the Tuck L-Sit is performed right on the floor or using parallettes.
Using your hands, you will be pushing down on the ground to depress your shoulders and raise your butt. Then, the knees will be coming up.
Progression IV: the Tuck L-Sit with Extension
Increase the difficulty of the previous exercise by extending your legs for a brief moment.
When you’re in the Tuck L-Sit position, straighten your legs, then bring them back in a tuck… That will count for 1 rep.
Progression V: the L-Sit
If the Dragon Flag was one of Bruce Lee’s favorites, the L- Sit is definitely one of mine. It will destroy your abs and bring a smile of satisfaction to your lips.
Now, beware that your thighs and abs might cramp up at first as your muscles get used to being under such levels of tension… but the feeling eventually goes away as you toughen up and your muscular fibers turn to steel.
For the L-Sit (as for the V-Sit), even though you can execute the sets on parallettes like I said, I recommend you stick to the floor. Why? Not only because we want to be reliant on as little equipment as possible, this is the harder variation that will give you the best bang for your buck and also ensure you keep a strict form.
For the L-Sit, sitting on the ground with your legs together, you will:
- Press down with your hands to elevate your hips;
- Contract your abdominals to bring your feet in line with your pelvis;
- Hold the position with knees and elbows locked.
Progression VI: the Toes-to-Bar
This drill is not part of the progressions per se but rather one of the preparatory exercises. I didn’t include it at the beginning for a simple reason: it requires a good deal of strength. That’s why you will only start working it as you progress from L-Sit to V-Sit.
As the L-Sit becomes easier and you feel ready to “open up” the angle, add 3 sets of toes-to-bar to facilitate the transition between the two moves. To perform toes-to-bar, hanging from a bar with your arms straight, you will:
- Pull down with your shoulder blades to stabilize the trunk;
- Tighten your midsection and, with your head going backwards, bring your feet up in an arc;
- Go up until your feet/shins touch the bar;
- Go back down while controlling the movement.
Final Progression: the V-Sit
The V-Sit is nothing but an L-Sit with your feet locked in a higher position than your hips… or rather an L-Sit with your legs reaching closer and closer to the vertical as if they were the hands on a watch and you were trying to turn back time.
As the angle between your feet and the floor increases, you’ll feel your abs getting tighter and tighter, like a foam ball you’re squeezing in the palm of your hand.
This is where your compression power will shoot through the roof. Where you will develop insane levels of strength!
When you can keep the position still for about 15-20 seconds, move up a few more degrees.