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Most people would love to have abs that are sharp enough to open a can of tuna, yet many trainers put their ab training on the back burner during this time of year. That’s too bad, because abdominal training doesn’t have to consist of complicated exercises on chrome machines. Although many machines are effective, simpler exercises can be just as effective. Fall and winter is the ideal time to really target your abdominal training so by the time beach weather hits, you’ll be hosting razor-sharp abdominals, provided your diet is clean. V sit-ups is an exercise that needs no fancy equipment, but it will activate the entire anterior abdominal wall and the lower and posterior abdominal muscles. V sit-ups can be an important part of kick-starting your abdominal program.

Overview of Muscle Structure and Function

The central muscle in the anterior abdominal wall is the rectus abdominis. This muscle is partitioned vertically in the middle by a tendon that’s about one-half to an inch wide, called the linea alba. This tendon stretches from the xiphoid process at the base of the sternum to the pubic bone of the pelvis. The rectus abdominis has a taper to it, so it’s three times as wide at the top (superiorly) as it is at the bottom (inferiorly). As a result, the upper portion of this muscle is stronger than the lower sections. The rectus abdominis is anchored centrally on the pubic bones of the pelvis and superiorly on the xiphoid process. Although there’s some genetic variability, usually there are three rows or blocks of tissue at the level of the xiphoid process below the sternum, the umbilicus (“belly button”) and about halfway between these two structures. When the rectus abdominis is tensed, the short fibers bulge between the tendinous grooves, giving the “six-pack” look.

Contracting only one side of the rectus abdominis (e.g., the right side) flexes the torso toward the same side that’s contracting (e.g., the right side). However, if both right and left halves of this muscle contract, the head and chest move closer to the hips and legs.

The external oblique is a large and superficial muscle. It begins on the fifth through twelfth ribs by small bundles of muscle fibers and ends on the linea alba and pubic and iliac bones of the pelvis. These bundles of fibers are intermingled with the serratus anterior muscle and the latissimus dorsi muscle. If your body fat is low enough, these digitations (particularly external oblique and serratus muscles) will give the impression that a large animal has left its claw marks across your side. When both left and right sides of the external oblique muscles work together, they flex the trunk so the head moves toward the feet. If only one side contracts, the trunk flexes toward the opposite side.

The internal oblique muscle lies just deep to the external oblique muscle. It begins on a thick connective tissue sheath located in the lower back, called the thoracolumbar fascia and also from the iliac bone of the hip. Its fibers fan out and run toward the head to attach on the lowest three or four ribs. In contrast to the external oblique, the internal oblique will twist the body toward the same side (i.e., toward the right if only the right side contracts). However, similar to the external oblique muscle, the internal oblique will flex the trunk at the waist and move the head toward the feet, if both left and right portions contract together.

The iliopsoas muscle is the most powerful flexor of the thigh at the hip joint and it’s strongly activated during the leg raise part of V sit-ups. The iliopsoas is a combination of iliacus and psoas muscles. The psoas major attaches along the sides of the lumbar vertebrae and the intervertebral discs in this region (the discs between each of the vertebrae) and it descends to the pelvis to attach to a small bump on the femur bone of the thigh called the lesser trochanter. The iliacus is a triangular muscle that lies along the inside of the iliac bone of the hip. Its fibers run inferiorly (toward the feet) and medially (toward the midline of the body) and attaches to the tendon of the psoas muscle. The iliopsoas bends the lumbar region anteriorly (forward flexion) such as when sitting up from a supine position or if you’re raising your legs up toward your torso.

V Sit-ups

This exercise is a combination of a partial sit-up (like a modified crunch) and leg raises. It activates your anterior and lateral abdominal wall (rectus abdominis, internal oblique and external oblique muscles) and the leg raise part activates the lower part of the rectus abdominis and the iliopsoas.

1. Lie on the floor with your legs straight and your arms over your head.

2. Raise your upper back from the floor and at the same time begin to lift both legs from the floor.

3. Continue to lift your upper body and your legs with the object of trying to touch your fingers to your toes so your thighs come as close to your torso as possible. The top position of the exercise will form a “V” position between your torso and your legs.

4. Hold this “V” for a count of one (you can work up to a count of two over a few weeks) and then return to the floor.

5. Without pausing on the floor continue into the next repetition. Try to begin with 20 reps on each set for three to four sets. Work up to at least 50 reps.

The idea isn’t to throw your arms up to meet your feet. If you’re using momentum and not abdominal effort, you’ll be wasting your time. You must do the exercise in a pendulum motion that’s continuous, but controlled. You should feel your abs cramping with each repetition if you’re doing it correctly. To increase the effectiveness of the movement, try to isometrically squeeze the abdomen when you’re in the V position at the top. This will add to the fire that should be burning across your rectus fibers and help to etch in the grooves between each block of rectus abdominis. If you would like to increase the work to the internal and the external oblique muscles, try twisting as you come up, so you touch your hands to the right foot on one repetition and your left foot on the next repetition.

As a word of caution, if you have previously injured your lower back you may want to do a single leg raise V sit-up. In this version you’ll lift your upper body and both hands up to meet one foot while the other foot remains on the floor (with the knee bent). On the next set you would switch to the opposite leg. The one leg version is easier and less stressful to the lumbar discs, but if you still have lower back pain, discontinue the exercise.

Holding your breath increases intra-abdominal pressure and prevents the abdominal fibers from shortening as much as they should. It’s good to either exhale as you’re coming up or even better, exhale before you do the contraction, then concentrate on achieving a maximal shortening of the fibers during the exercise.

Although it’s simple in one sense, it’s a rather tough exercise to do correctly. Often people will raise their legs before the torso or sometimes the reverse, but you must raise them at the same time. Once you get it down, you’ll begin to feel your entire abdominal wall go into a serious meltdown. Nevertheless, V sit-ups alone won’t fix a weak waist if you have a sloppy high-fat and calorie-excessive diet. In addition to tightening your diet, you should begin with 20 minutes of cardio three times a week to reduce your body fat. You don’t have to go crazy with the cardio workouts, because there’s still time before summer hits, but you do need to get it rolling now. With your improved diet and ramped-up cardio, V sit-ups will add an important dimension to getting your abs in better shape than you’ve every had. While great abdominals don’t evolve overnight, if you carefully set high standards and realistic goals and deadlines to achieve these successes, then nothing should stop you from meeting those goals. The payoff is your abdominals can turn from a rounded, soft pillow into razor-sharp, diamond-cutter-hard muscle bundles.


1. Avedisian L, Kowalsky DS, Albro RC, Goldner D and Gill RC. Abdominal strengthening using the AbVice machine as measured by surface electromyographic activation levels. J Strength Cond Res, 19: 709-712, 2005.

2. Basmajian, J.V. and C.E. Slonecker. Grant’s Method of Anatomy. A Clinical Problem Solving Approach. 11th edition. William and Wilkins, Baltimore, 1989, pp.441-542.

3. Krause DA, Youdas JW, Hollman JH and Smith J. Abdominal muscle performance as measured by the double leg-lowering test. Arch Phys Med Rehabil, 86: 1345-1348, 2005.

4. Norris CM. Abdominal muscle training in sport. Br J Sports Med, 27: 19-27, 1993.

5. Soderberg GL and Cook TM. An electromyographic analysis of quadriceps femoris muscle setting and straight leg raising. Phys Ther, 63: 1434-1438, 1983.

6. Sternlicht E, Rugg SG, Bernstein MD and Armstrong SD. Electromyographical analysis and comparison of selected abdominal training devices with a traditional crunch. J Strength Cond Res, 19: 157-162, 2005.

7. Urquhart DM, Hodges PW, Allen TJ and Story IH. Abdominal muscle recruitment during a range of voluntary exercises. Man Ther, 10: 144-153, 2005.

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By: Stephen E. Alway, Ph.D., FACSM
Title: Get Razor-Sharp Abs With V Sit-ups
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Published Date: Tue, 05 Oct 2021 14:46:51 +0000

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Ripped Leg Blast for Carved Thighs



Powerful and thick thighs require gut-busting exercises like squats and leg presses. However, once you have acquired adequate thigh mass and strength, you should consider adding some balance and sharpness to the muscle bellies in your thighs. Although tough to accomplish, leg extensions provide a great way to carve the separations between the muscle bellies, and to accentuate the “teardrop” shape of the four quadriceps muscles of the anterior thigh.

Active Muscles in Leg Extensions

The three vasti muscles comprise most of the anterior thigh.1 The vastus medialis covers the medial (inner) part of the femur bone (thigh bone). When it is well developed, it forms a teardrop-like shape over the medial side of the knee joint. The vastus lateralis muscle attaches to the lateral (outer) part of the femur bone. The vastus intermedius connects to the femur bone between the vastus lateralis and the vastus medialis muscles. The fibers of all three vasti muscles come together at the quadriceps tendon, which crosses the patella (kneecap) to attach to the tibia bone just below the knee.1

Together, the three vasti muscles extend the leg at the knee joint, although the vastus intermedius may be more fatigue resistant than the vastus lateralis.2 The vastus medialis oblique (VMO), which is a small part of the vastus medialis muscle, attaches to the medial part of the patella. It is thought to help the patella track properly during movement of the knee. Improper tracking can increase the likelihood for knee injury.

The vastus medialis and especially the VMO part of this muscle are primarily responsible for tibial rotation (rotation of the tibia bone of the lower leg on the femur) during knee extension. This rotation or “twist” has been shown to increase the activation of the VMO portion of the vastus lateralis even more than doing knee extensions with the hip adducted (thigh rotated so that the medial portion of the knee is facing mostly upwards).3 Dorsiflexion of the foot (moving the ankles so the toes are pointing towards your head) also increases the activation of the VMO by more than 20 percent.4 Likely this is because the dorsiflexor muscles stabilize the tibia during knee flexion and resist rotation of the tibia on the femur as the knee straightens.

The fourth muscle of the quadriceps group is the rectus femoris muscle. It attaches to the anterior part of the hip bone just above the hip joint.1 The largest bulk of the muscle fibers are located on the upper three-quarters of the thigh, whereas the largest belly of the vastus medialis and vastus lateralis are more inferior (i.e., closer to the knee). The distal end of the rectus femoris muscle becomes tendinous and it creates a deep valley between the lateral and medial vastus muscles as it approaches the knee.1 It assists the other quadriceps muscles by extending the leg at the knee joint, although it is less effective when the hip is flexed than if it is straight.

Leg Extensions

The three vastus muscles of the anterior thigh are strongly activated by single-leg knee extensions. The rectus femoris is not activated as strongly, but it does undergo some overload when the anterior thigh is under contractile effort, about halfway up to the top of each repetition.

1. You should always warm up your knees with some stationary cycling prior to getting into leg extensions. Furthermore, the resistance on your first set should be fairly light to allow the joint to fully warm up before you get to the heavier stuff.

2. Adjust the knee extension machine so that the pivot point of the lifting arm is directly adjacent to the center of the side of your knee joint.

3. Position the ankle roller/leg pad over the lower part of the leg (above the ankle joint).

4. Take about three seconds to slowly extend (straighten) both leg so that the weight is lifted upward from the stack.

5. Continue upwards until the tibia and the femur bones form a straight line and the knee angle is straight. Hold this for two seconds at the top.

6. Slowly lower the weight (about four seconds down) towards the starting position. Once the knee has reached 90 degrees, start the upwards extension phase again. Continue for 12-15 repetitions for the first set. Lower the number of repetitions but increase the resistance for subsequent sets.

7. On the next sets, lift the weight upwards until the knee joint becomes almost straight, but just slightly short of a total knee lockout. Be careful that you do not “jam” the knee joint into a fully locked out position, because this could cause knee cartilage damage5, especially with heavy weights. Hold the top position for a count of three before lowering the weight.

8. Lower the weight slowly (four to five seconds) towards the starting position where your knee is flexed to 90 degrees. Just before the weight stack contacts the remaining plates at the bottom, start lifting it upward for the next repetition.

The downward movement should be slower than the upward phase because you are resisting the pull of gravity. The slow lowering of the weight stretches the muscle under a resistance and this is a great stimulus to improve muscle shape and size.6

Make sure that you do not hold your breath during the lift upwards.7 Rather take a breath at the bottom (start) of the lift, and exhale as you extend the knees/legs. Take another breath at the top and slowly exhale as the weight is lowered. Take another breath at the bottom and repeat the sequence.

This is a mechanically simply exercise, but it really can be very challenging and blood depriving8,9, especially if you try to control the weight as it is moving up and down. However, if you are willing to work through some discomfort, you will be soon enjoying your new shape and slabs of carved thighs.

GettyImages 674163248 600


1. Moore K.L. Clinically Orientated Anatomy. Third Edition. Williams & Willkins, Baltimore, 1995; pp 373-500.

2. Watanabe K, Akima H. Neuromuscular activation of vastus intermedius muscle during fatiguing exercise. J Electromyogr Kinesiol 2010;20:661-666.

3. Stoutenberg M, Pluchino AP, Ma F et al. The impact of foot position on electromyographical activity of the superficial quadriceps muscles during leg extension. J Strength Cond Res 2005;19:931-938.

4. Coburn JW, Housh TJ, Cramer JT et al. Mechanomyographic and electromyographic responses of the vastus medialis muscle during isometric and concentric muscle actions. J Strength Cond Res 2005; 19:412-420.

5. Senter C, Hame SL. Biomechanical analysis of tibial torque and knee flexion angle: implications for understanding knee injury. Sports Med 2006;36:635-641.

6. Alway SE, Winchester PK, Davis ME et al. Regionalized adaptations and muscle fiber proliferation in stretch- induced enlargement. J Appl Physiol 1989;66:771-781.

7. Garber CE, Blissmer B, Deschenes MR et al. American College of Sports Medicine position stand. Quantity and quality of exercise for developing and maintaining cardiorespiratory, musculoskeletal, and neuromotor fitness in apparently healthy adults: guidance for prescribing exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2011;43:1334-1359.

8. Denis R, Bringard A, Perrey S. Vastus lateralis oxygenation dynamics during maximal fatiguing concentric and eccentric isokinetic muscle actions. J Electromyogr Kinesiol 2011;21:276-282.

9. Ueda C, Kagaya A. Muscle reoxygenation difference between superficial and deep regions of the muscles during static knee extension. Adv Exp Med Biol 2010;662:329-334.

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By: Stephen E. Alway, Ph.D., FACSM
Title: Ripped Leg Blast for Carved Thighs
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Published Date: Mon, 25 Jul 2022 19:11:16 +0000

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PRIMAL Preworkout



Training hard and intensely is the only way to train – you can’t step into the gym in low gear or
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A Better Pump

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How to Use PRIMAL
30 minutes prior to training, consume 2 rounded scoops (20.3g) with 8-12 oz of water or your
favorite beverage. Users that are sensitive to stimulants should start off with 1 rounded scoop
(10.1g) to assess tolerance.

PRIMAL Preworkout

• Enhances energy and endurance†
• Supports muscle hydration†
• Supports intense focus†
• Contains AstraGin ® to support nutrient uptake†
• Contains Senactiv ® which helps the production of citrate synthase, an important enzyme that is
responsible for producing more ATP†
• Absorption and nutrient enhancers
• Great tasting, easy to mix

PRIMAL is a pre-workout that will power your performance and enable you to crush it every time you train.

For additional information, visit
†These statements have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. This product is not
intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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By: Team FitRx
Title: PRIMAL Preworkout
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Published Date: Thu, 21 Jul 2022 16:51:41 +0000

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