V ups are a very effective, efficient way of targeting the abdominal muscles. However, not all of us can do them.

Perhaps you have a neck or back injury or simply don't yet have the abdominal strength to do them, but still want to work your abs!

If you're looking for the perfect V up alternative, you're in luck because we have them all right here for you to work your way towards those coveted toned abs.

We’ve curated the best V up alternatives because they work the same (or even more) muscles. These exercises have enough versatility that you can surely find at least one that works within your physical requirements or preferences, depending on your goals.

1. Burpees


Burpees are one of the most effective exercises for burning calories and increasing overall strength. This dynamic movement essentially combines squats, push-ups, and squat jumps, engaging your core throughout the exercise.

  1. Start out standing with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Crouch down, placing your hands on the floor straight under your shoulders.
  3. Place your weight on your hands and shoulders, hopping your feet out behind you until your body is straight. Simultaneously, bend at the elbows, lowering your body to the floor as if performing a push-up.
  4. Once you reach the bottom of the movement, press your upper body back up and simultaneously jump your legs back underneath you.
  5. Land with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  6. Transfer your weight back to the legs and jump up, landing with your feet in the start position.

2. Ab Crunches 

ab crunches

This is the first abdominal exercise most of us learn. When done correctly, they target the upper and lower abs, along with the transverse abdominis.[1] These are perfect for beginners, too!

  1. Start by lying with your back flat on the floor, with your legs bent and feet flat on the floor or mat.
  2. Cross your arms across your chest and pull your belly button into your spine, tucking your chin in a bit.
  3. Flex your upper abs to lift your head, neck, shoulders, and shoulder blades off the floor.
  4. Once your shoulder blades come off the floor, start lowering your body back down (while remaining controlled the entire time).

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3. In and Out Abs 

In And Out Abs

These are very similar to V ups, but are still a bit easier as you don’t have that full range of motion from laying back down on every rep. They do work your abs, quads, hip flexors, lower and upper abs, though.

  1. Start sitting in a V-like position, placing your hands slightly behind you on either side of you.
  2. Extend legs out as far as you can in front of you while keeping them up off of the ground.
  3. Then, pull your knees back in towards your chest and repeat.

4. Leg/Knee Raises 

Leg-Knee Raises

These are similar to V ups in that you are lifting your legs (hence, the name). However, you keep your back on the floor with this exercise.

This fact makes it a bit easier for those just starting out. This is perfect for all abdominals but really focuses on the lower abs and hip flexors.

  1. Lay flat on your back with your legs straight out. Keep your hands, palms down, under your lower back for added support.
  2. Lift your legs, keeping them together and as straight as possible until they’re almost straight up.
  3. If you can’t get them completely straight, that’s okay!
  4. Lower the legs back down at a controlled, steady pace.

5. Bicycle Crunches 

Bicycle Crunches

This one is a nice V ups alternative, placing more focus on the obliques thanks to the twist element of the exercise. Not only that, is it engages the upper and lower abs, along with the hip flexors.

  1. Lay on your back with your legs straight up towards the ceiling, with your feet gently pointed.
  2. Lower your legs (straight) closer to the floor, and lift your spine off the floor with your upper arms and elbows supporting the pelvis.
  3. Reach legs up to the ceiling to keep them at a 90-degree position to the floor.
  4. Keep your right leg stretched out toward the floor, pulling your left knee into your chest.
  5. Now switch legs, stretching the left leg out and pulling the right knee in, simultaneously.

6. Windmill 


At first glance, these may not look like your typical ab exercise. However, they will force your body to engage the obliques and abdominals in order to stabilize your hips and spine throughout this movement. We love this one for helping to prevent injuries!

  1. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, with your arms held at shoulder height.
  2. Keep your core tight, and bend forward, twisting to your left as you reach down and across with your right arm. Try to touch your right foot (or get as close as you can, comfortably).
  3. Try keeping your legs straight throughout the movement.
  4. Raise back up to your start position, repeating with the other side.

7. Reverse Crunches 

Reverse Crunches

Reverse crunches flex your back less than regular crunches, which are easier on the back. They’re also easier than V ups while still activating the transverse abdominis, external obliques, hip flexors, and lower abs. If you’re looking to place more focus on the lower abs, this is a great exercise.

  1. Lay on your back with your knees bent in a crunch position.
  2. Contract your abs, lifting your hips off the floor, deepening the crunch.
  3. Wait for a moment, then return your hips (controlled) to the floor.
  4. Repeat.

8. Cable Crunches 

Cable Crunches

Cable crunches are absolute killers for the upper and middle abdominals! Even V ups can't target them this well. As you're adding in some weight, it's very challenging but still welcoming to beginners.

  1. Start out with a lighter weight and move up as you become comfortable.
  2. Grab a rope extension and lower it so you can stretch your arms towards the ceiling while you are kneeling on the floor or standing. We feel that kneeling places more focus on the abs.
  3. Now, take the rope and hold it in front of your face or on either side of your head, and contract your abs until you’re performing a kneeling crunch.

9. Plank 


This one is quite a bit different from the others, as it is an isometric exercise! However, it’s a staple in any athlete’s routine as it’s a serious core strengthener!

  1. Start off by kneeling and placing your hands directly under your shoulders. Now, pick up one hand and bend at the elbow, so your elbows are resting on the floor right under your shoulders.
  2. Now, gently walk your feet out, tucking your toes in and keeping your knees off the floor.
  3. Engage your core, keeping your body rigid like a "plank." You can keep this position by flexing your quads and glutes, keeping your belly button close to your spine.
  4. Make sure your hips and spine are all aligned. Stare at the floor right in front of your hands to help with this.

10. Ab Rollout 

Ab Wheel Rollout

These are pretty difficult and cover the rectus abdominis, obliques, lower back, upper back, and shoulders. It's similar to a plank but more challenging as you're using a ball or ab wheel.

  1. Kneel and grab your ab wheel with both hands.
  2. Engage your core, placing your entire weight on the wheel.
  3. Lift your feet off the ground or mat to help stabilize you, keeping your knees against the ground/mat. If you’re not ready for this, you can keep your feet on the ground, too.
  4. Keep your shoulders in place and spine aligned.
  5. Now, gently and in a controlled movement, roll your arms out away from you on the ground.
  6. Once you’ve reached the length of the movement and your arms are straight out in front of you, flex your abs, and pull it back into your starting position.

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11. Russian Twists 

Russian Twists

Are you on the hunt for the perfect oblique V ups alternative? If so, the Russian Twists are just for you. You can use these without weight or add a medicine ball for added difficulty.[2]  

  1. Sit with your feet on the floor, and make sure you’re firmly planted.
  2. Now, gently lift your feet off the floor, keeping your knees bent.
  3. Lean back, creating a 45-degree angle with the floor and a sitting V shape.
  4. Hold the medicine ball close to your chest, twisting your body to the right while simultaneously stretching out your left leg straight in front of you while keeping your right leg bent.
  5. Repeat, twisting to the other side, outstretching your right leg while keeping your left leg bent.

Benefits Of Substitute Exercises Over V Ups

Our abdominals are some of the most resilient, versatile muscles in the human body. As they’re designed to be engaged at all times (standing, laying down, moving in any way), you really have to overload them in order for them to become stronger or more developed.  

While V ups are certainly an effective exercise, we wouldn't recommend just sticking with that one exercise for your ab routine. The abdominals also need to be "surprised" in a way, and acclimate quickly if you're just performing one ab exercise.  

Incorporating alternatives to V ups is essential if you want to maximize results and avoid injuries. Unfortunately, many of us do not have the abdominal strength to perform them correctly, and we always need to prioritize form and control over everything.

These alternatives all engage different parts of our midsection, with some incorporating even more parts of the body. Ideally, you would pick 3 or 4 that you feel most comfortable with and create your own routine by cycling through them.  

Frequently Asked V Up Questions

Why are V-Ups so hard? 

You already have to have quite strong abdominal muscles to do them correctly. Not only that, but you need to be coordinated enough to sync your legs and arms and be strong enough to move up and down in a controlled motion. With your arms above your head and your legs out, you’re placing a good amount of resistance against your upper and lower abs at the same time.  

Do V-Ups burn fat? 

It’s important to clarify that no single exercise is going to burn stomach fat, though any type of exercise will burn calories. Burning calories along with a proper diet will help burn fat, however.  

What is the easiest exercise on our list? 

Planks and crunches are probably going to be the easiest ones. They require little-to-no coordination, and they are perfect for beginners. Not only that, but many people have already done them before, so they're familiar with how to do them correctly.  

What is the most challenging exercise on our list? 

Ab rollouts and burpees are the most difficult of the bunch. Ab rollouts require an incredible amount of muscular control and coordination – not only in the abs but the entire upper body. Burpees are difficult in that they really get the heart pumping and are an intense cardio workout just as much as they are an effective ab exercise.  


We know that V ups are certainly something to work on achieving, but there’s no reason to feel like you can’t get in an excellent ab workout with V up alternatives. In fact, with these selections, you’ll probably get even better results if you remain consistent!

We hope that this has helped guide you in the right direction, and that you now know what to do for your next workouts. Thanks for tuning in, and we’ll see you again soon! 


1. https://www.physio-pedia.com/Transversus_Abdominis

2. https://steelsupplements.com/blogs/steel-blog/how-to-do-russian-twists-form-benefits

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Andrew White

Andrew White is the co-founder of Garage Gym Pro. As an expert fitness professional (gym building nerd) with over 10 years of industry experience, he enjoys writing about everything there is to do with modern fitness & the newest market innovations for garage gyms. When he isn’t testing out products for his readers, he’s usually out surfing or playing basketball.