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V-ups can be helpful to grow and strengthen core muscles. However, stronger individuals may need extra weight to keep seeing progress.
One important thing to keep in mind with these weighted v-ups is that you don’t want to swing your arms and legs too much if your goal is training your core muscles.
Keep your movements slow and controlled during the v-up exercise.
If you don’t feel your core muscles fatiguing, this is likely the reason. Something you can do to avoid this is to keep the weights against your chest instead of in the air.
1. Wall ball or medicine ball v-ups
Wall and medicine balls are often used for weighted v-ups. Wall balls are slightly bigger and softer than medicine balls which makes them the choice of preference.
A benefit of both options is that they are relatively soft. If you keep the weights above you during v-ups or other medicine ball core exercises, this will make any accidental dropping of the weight a lot less painful.
Additionally, wall and medicine balls could feel more comfortable against your chest than alternatives.
Two downsides you do want to keep in mind are that not all gyms have a wide range of wall balls and that if you get them at home, you have to invest in new models as you get stronger. The weight is not adjustable.
2. Ankle weight v-ups
You can describe ankle weights as ankle straps with weights attached to them. These are great for core and leg muscle isolation exercises since you don’t have to keep them in place with your hands.
The same applies to weighted v-ups. You can strap on the ankle weights to make the exercise harder for your hip flexors and potentially your lower abs (depending on exactly how you do the movement).
One of the nice things about ankle weights is that many models have adjustable weights. That means you can slowly increase the weights as you get stronger to keep seeing good results with v-ups.
More generally, ankle weights are also relatively budget-friendly, compact, and easy to store.
3. Dumbbell v-ups
Dumbbells are basically handles with a weight on each side. They are mostly popular because of how useful they are in other upper-body exercises but you can also use dumbbells for core exercises like v-ups.
One of the main benefits of this option is that basically every gym has dumbbells. Additionally, dumbbells are relatively easy to hold.
A downside of doing these weighted v-ups is that dumbbells have somewhat bigger jumps in weight. For the relatively weak core muscles, smaller weight jumps are generally more effective.
Besides that, you may also find dumbbells a bit too pricey to get at home.
4. At-home objects
Fitness equipment is generally preferred for resistance training but you don’t want to forget that there are resistance options all around you.
At home, you can use something like a backpack or grocery bag filled with books and water bottles to make your v-ups more challenging in a budget-friendly way.
Two downsides to keep in mind are that these at-home weights are generally more challenging to grip and move around more easily. You want to be careful to avoid dropping the weight on yourself.
5. Workout sandbag v-ups
Not everyone knows they exist but there are sandbags that have a form and handles that make them suited for workouts like a v-up session.
These workout sandbags are extremely versatile and often have a relatively high weight limit.
At the same time, important to note is that workout sandbags are not ideal for weighted v-ups. They can be a bit bulky and while the handles offer extra grip, they are not in the ideal locations for v-ups.
More generally, you also often have to fill these sandbags yourself. This likely requires an extra trip to the store.
So if you plan to do a lot of at-home workouts, exercise sandbags can be great. If you are only interested in doing v-ups with weights, other equipment options are likely better choices.
6. Weight plate v-ups
Weight plates are the heavy disks you typically put on a barbell. However, they are also often used to do weighted v-ups.
The two main reasons for this are that weight plates are extremely common and that weight plates sometimes have specific handles which makes them easier to use.
On the flip side, this is also not the best weight plate ab exercise for a few reasons.
First of all, some people will find weight plates a bit bulky and awkward to hold if they don’t have handles.
Additionally, if you get up to a point where you need more resistance than the 10-pound weight plate, the weight jumps are relatively big.
In theory, holding multiple weight plates is an option but in practice, this is often not a safe and convenient option.
5 Benefits of weighted v-ups
By now, you know how to do weighted v-ups with different equipment options at home and in the gym. Knowing the benefits of these can be fun and motivating.
1. Helps you build more muscle faster
Resistance training exercises like v-ups are mostly done with the goal of growing and strengthening skeletal muscles.
In the case of v-ups, you will mostly work your abs, obliques, and hip flexors.
Growing your muscles can be good for your health and is often considered visually appealing.
A big part of achieving this goal is putting your muscles under enough resistance. Initially, your body weight will likely be enough to see nice results with v-ups.
However, as you get stronger, you will see diminishing results unless you start adding weights to the exercise.
Implementing weighted v-ups at the right point in your fitness journey can also speed up your results.
Lastly, something important to note is that you need to lose enough body fat to see your bigger core muscles. To do this you will need different workouts and potentially make changes in other lifestyle habits like your diet.
2. Could improve athletic performance
Improving performance in sports and exercises is not always done by spending more time on these same activities. Training fitness components with other workouts can be effective.
V-ups can help you strengthen a variety of core muscles. By adding weights, there is even more potential in this area.
One study observed that 6 weeks of core strength training led to a significant improvement in 5000-meter running performance compared to the non-core strength training group (1).
Another small study measured that a 6-week core strength training program improved performance in 50 meters front crawl swimming compared to no core strength training (2).
So depending on your current core strength, the strength of other muscles, and what exercise or sports you do, weighted v-ups could improve your performance.
3. Helps you build faster muscle
Not all muscle is the same. One difference is that it can be made of different types of muscle fibers. These different fibers have different properties with accompanying advantages and disadvantages.
A common categorization of these muscle fibers is “type 1, slow-twitch muscle” and “type 2, fast-twitch muscle”. Your muscle groups are not made of one or the other, they are made of a certain ratio of type 1 vs type 2 fibers.
The way you train can influence this ratio (3).
The type 1, slow-twitch muscle fibers are generally more useful for longer-duration workouts like jogging, swimming at a low tempo, cycling at a low tempo, etc.
Basically activities at intensities you can do for an extended period of time.
The type 2, fast-twitch muscle fibers are generally more useful for short-duration, fast body movement workouts like sprints, powerlifting, javelin throwing, etc.
Basically activities at intensities you can only do for a short period of time.
If you are new to core training, bodyweight v-ups will initially likely help you build type 2 muscle fibers. As you get stronger, you may only build type 1 muscle fibers.
By doing weighted v-ups at this point, you can continue gaining fast type 2 muscle fibers. Depending on your training goals, this can be a benefit.
4. Improves bone density
One of the main benefits of doing this is that it helps you avoid broken bones. Not only today but also over time.
Even if this is not something you are worried about right now, there will come a time when better bone density becomes really important.
Since weighted v-ups put more pressure on your bones than the bodyweight version, they will generally also improve bone density more.
At the same time, you want to keep in mind that something like a heavy deadlift will generally be more effective for this goal.
5. Makes your v-ups more time-efficient
A good workout session does not necessarily mean spending a lot of time. Especially when it comes to resistance training exercises like v-ups.
To build muscle you have to put it under enough pressure and enough repetitions. This does take some time but by adding weights, this time is significantly less.
This benefit of weighted v-ups and similar alternatives with weights is especially useful if you have trouble finding enough time throughout your day to fit in a workout.