You can work your core muscles with a variety of movements. Find out how to do V crunches, what their benefits are, and any risks.
V crunches are a crunch exercise variation where you raise your shoulders and even lower your back off the ground and move your hips and knees towards your chest at the same time.
The result of this is that V crunches mainly work your abs and hip flexors and to some extent your obliques.
In combination with enough resistance, reps, and sets, you can use V crunches to grow and strengthen these first two muscle groups.
More experienced lifters may need to use extra weights to make this happen.
One thing to note is that some people will find V crunches uncomfortable on their backs.
There are safer and less painful ways than V crunches to work the muscles above.
How to do a V crunch
Before you go to the walkthrough below, it can be helpful to know that an exercise mat or something similar can make V crunches a lot more comfortable.
That aside, take the following steps to do the exercise:
- Lie down on your back. Keep your legs slightly less than stretched and in line with your upper body. Hold your arms against your chest.
- Curl up your upper body starting with your shoulders and move your knee toward your chest. These body parts meet in the middle.
- Slowly curl down your upper body and move your legs toward starting position. If you will do more repetitions, keep your legs hovering in the air.
If possible, you want to go through these steps slowly. This allows you to really work your muscles with V crunches without using too much of the momentum of your body.
Individuals who currently find full V crunches too hard can start by only raising their shoulders and knees to small extents. In a situation like that, you can also consider easier ab workouts.
People who are more experienced with ab workouts may also find V crunches too easy. These individuals likely want to make the movement more challenging to see more results.
You can do this to some extent without equipment by stretching your arms above your head.
Another option is doing weighted V crunches by holding something like a dumbbell, heavy backpack, or weight plate against your chest.
V crunches muscles worked
The main muscles worked in V crunches are your abs and hip flexors. More specifically, you focus mostly on the upper and middle abs, not really the lower abs.
You also work your obliques a bit more than in regular crunches due to the brusque movements of your upper body.
To stretch your legs before hitting the ground your quadriceps have to work a tiny amount too.
Keep in mind that you still need to approach V crunches in the right ways to see results.
How many V crunches you should do depends on your training goals and strength level.
That being said, to grow and strengthen your abs and hip flexors, you want to do around 3 to 6 sets of 6 to 25 (or even up to 50) V crunches with a resistance where these ranges are challenging.
V crunches benefits
V crunches can potentially be better for certain individuals due to the extra hip flexor engagement and slightly bigger ab range of motion.
At the same time, they still mostly offer the benefits of regular crunches. A few of these include:
- Stronger muscles: V crunches make it easy to work certain muscles in a way that promotes muscle growth and strength progress.
- Can help weight loss a tiny amount: Since V crunches use up more energy than more passive activities, you can say that they help weight loss to a tiny extent. Do keep in mind that these are not the most effective. You likely need to make other lifestyle changes too.
- Balance and coordination: You may find V crunches challenging in terms of balance and coordination. In that case, doing this exercise could improve your skills in these areas.
- No equipment or location required: V crunches are a bodyweight exercise which means they can save you time and money over other exercises.
- May reduce or prevent back pain: Growing and strengthening core muscles like your abs with V crunches can reduce or prevent back pain (1, 2). People with issues in this area do likely want to talk to an expert before doing this exercise.
As mentioned, V crunches are not completely unique in these benefits. You can still consider other workouts too.
It is worth mentioning that the brusque movements and spine bending in V crunches will be uncomfortable for some people.
If you have any issues in your back, hips, hip flexors, and neck you likely want to go for core exercises that are less intense than V crunches.
Even if you start doing this ab exercise more, you want to pay attention to your body. Experiencing any pain could mean V crunches are not ideal for you.
V crunch alternatives
Doing V crunches can still offer benefits but you may like the sound of safer and more convenient core exercises with similar positive effects.
In that case, you could consider some of these V crunch alternatives:
- Knee raises on the captain’s chair
- Regular crunches
- Lying leg raises
- Double crunches
- Reverse crunches
What you are trying to achieve with V crunches will influence what alternatives will be good for you.
For example, sit-ups are a great way to work your abs and hip flexors in a more controlled motion than V crunches.
Are V crunches a good exercise?
If you don’t find them uncomfortable, V crunches can be good for growing and strengthening your abs and hip flexor muscles.
More experienced lifters may need some form of crunch exercise equipment to achieve the results they desire.
One important thing to note is that the brusque movements and spine bending of V crunches could be uncomfortable for you.
In that case, you likely want to choose one of the other great ab muscle exercises out there.
Additionally, for training other muscles, you will need movements that are different from standard crunch variations.
What are V crunches?
V crunches are a crunch variation where you raise your shoulders more and also move your knees toward your chest. This will work your hip flexors more.