Think you’ve got a superstrong core? Put it to the test with the V-up

Upgrade your abs, upgrade your life.

Harper's Bazaar India

A strong core is about a lot more than chiseled abs; it makes going about your daily chores much simpler and helps maintain good posture and improve balance. From mountain climbers and cross-armed crunches to leg raises, you can exercise your way to a strong core, but the V-Up is the ultimate test of the core. It hits all 360 degrees of your midsection, meaning your obliques and back get in on the action. Don’t sweat it if you have to modify at first.

Here's how to do it

1. Lie face-up on floor with legs extended and arms by sides.

2. In one movement, engage core to lift upper body, arms, and legs to balance on sacrum, forming a “V” shape with body.

3. With control, reverse movement to return to start. That’s 1 rep.

Hold a light weight at your chest to raise the ante. You can even press it overhead when in the “V” for extra oomph

Bonus tip

If your spine is elongated and chest is open, you’ll feel it in your rhomboids (upper back) and lats (big back muscles).

What to look out for

A collapsed chest: This means your upper back isn’t engaged. Think of a “proud” chest as you squeeze shoulder blades together.

Make it easier: Instead of keeping legs straight, bend knees and let them splay out wide, feet together, so legs form a diamond shape.

Exercise Munchies

Yes, snacks *might* be the solution to a lag in workout mojo. You’ve probably seen high-level athletes crush a protein bar or goo during a training sesh. A less likely scenario? Eating a cupcake while working out. That’s what activist and actress Jameela Jamil does: She posts videos of herself noshing on foods (even ice cream!) mid-movement to remind herself that she exercises for mental well-being and health, not for weight loss. 

Though the logistics of ’scream on a treadmill are head-scratchy, Jamil is onto something. “When we eat with the intention to fuel our workouts—whether before or during—we look at food as a way to enhance exercise rather than as something we need to ‘burn off,’” says sports and eating disorder–focused nutritionist Gabriela Barreto, RD, CDN. Plus, if you work out long enough (45 minutes or more), your body will likely crave sustenance anyway. 

Some inspo: Dates, watermelon, and berries are easy-to-digest carbs. You can also try pretzels or granola bars. 

Wondering how to consume your snack? Depends on your sport, Barreto says. Runners and cyclists should practice slowing their pace as they eat, whereas strength-training athletes might need to take a five minute time-out to chew and hydrate. Happy sweating! 

Snappy Sweat

Let’s settle this: Quick interval sessions can bring a host of health benefits. Science says so! Super short, low-volume, high-intensity intervals (less than 15 minutes) are just as effective—if not more so—at improving blood pressure and cardiac function than lengthier moderate ones, according to research in The Journal of Physiology. This routine from Rachel Nicely, CPT, nails it.

Do each move for 35 seconds, resting 25 seconds in between, until you’ve completed the circuit three times.

Alternating Reverse Lunges 
2 Supermans
3 Sumo Squat Jumps
4 Hollow Body Flutter Kicks
5 Skater Jumps

This piece originally appeared in the September 2021 print edition of Harper's Bazaar US