First it was the sit-up, then the abdominal curl. Now fitness and rehabilitation professionals recommend the V-Sit, which will give you a tight, strong core (midsection) - without stressing your lower back - and will do it more effectively than ever.
The V-Sit will challenge your abdominal muscles and help you maintain correct alignment of your spine. Movements such as leaning forward or backward, rotating or twisting can put stress on your back. Strong abs will help you support it.
Four muscles make up the abdominal group and they all work together when you perform the V-Sit exercise, which is why it's so effective. Begin with the basic V-Sit; once you can perform it 10 times with proper technique, add the rotation and/or extra resistance after a couple of workouts. Use a book or a full water bottle as a weight, if necessary.
1. Sit on the floor with your knees bent at a 45-degree angle, feet flat on the floor and hands resting on top of your knees (or holding a weight). Sit as upright as possible by pulling your abdominals in and your shoulders back and away from your ears. Align your ears over your shoulders and your shoulders over your hips to achieve a neutral position through your spine. Inhale, lift your chest and tuck your chin in slightly; as you exhale, lean back by straightening your arms (or simply lean back), maintaining the neutral spine position.
2. Pause in this position long enough to breathe in; keep your hands resting on top of your knees (or holding the weight) and, as you exhale, return to the starting position. In the basic position, you can pull up with your arms if necessary. Breathe in again and repeat the exercise. Let your breath set the pace.
3. To use your abdominals effectively, keep your navel pulled in toward your spine and up. You should feel your tailbone tuck under slightly as you lean back. Keep your chest lifted and shoulders back, so your spine stays long, not compressed.
For a greater challenge, add the rotation. To do this, lean back as described above, pause to inhale, then, as you exhale, slowly rotate the right side of your rib cage toward your left hip (as shown in the photo). Pause to inhale, return to centre and sit up as you exhale. Repeat on the other side.
Repetitions and sets
Repeat the exercise 10 times (five if adding weights and/or rotation); do it slowly to ensure good form and technique. Perform this exercise every day or a minimum of three times per week.