The Best Exercises for Your Lower Abs from The Best Exercises for Your Lower Abs

The Best Exercises for Your Lower Abs

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The Best Exercises for Your Lower Abs

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The lower abs are the most difficult core muscles to define because they are the deepest in the abdominal wall. “That’s why it’s the hardest muscle to activate,” Makato Robinson, who has more than 30 years of experience providing fitness training, from Midtown Trainers, says. It’s important to remember that spot-reduction is not a possible fitness goal. Fat cells are all over the body, not just in one place. That’s why trainers like to say that muscles are made in the gym but six-packs are made in the kitchen. “You will see a difference in the abdominal area, if you focus on the right nutrition and cardio training,” Babidiye Robinson, also from Midtown Trainers, adds. And if you do effective exercises. 

Planks

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Planks are Babidiye’s favorite abs exercise. There are many versions to match every person’s fitness level. The farther away you are from the center of the body, the more muscles you’re recruiting, making the move more difficult, she adds.  Planks are great because they use your own bodyweight to maintain the stability of your entire core, which is exactly what the core muscles are supposed to do, and prevent back pain. Add leg movements to make a plank even more challenging, Babidiye adds.

High Chair

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This is another exercise that really burns the lower abs, Babidiye says. [See: 7 Best Total Body Fat Burning Exercises] You can extend the legs fully or use a Pilates machine, she adds. Placement is crucial while performing this exercise, if you want to avoid injuries. “Activate the muscle from the bottom up.” It’s important to not swing back and forth. Stabilize your spine as you pull your knees towards the chest. Press your back against the pad and use your abs to raise your legs and knees.

Ab Crunch Machine

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Certain machines can assist in toning your lower abs because you can select the amount of resistance you can add to make a move more difficult, Babidiye says. The ab crunch machine is one of them. Select the right resistance for you, but not too heavy. Bend your arms at a 90 degree angle. Lift the legs up as you crunch your torso. Do this motions slowly; focus on engaging the abs while relaxing your arms and feet.

Back Extensions

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The most common cause for back pain is not varying body movements enough. The body gets very imbalanced. You are in a way doing crunches – the abs are engaged and work to stabilize the body and protect your lower back from injuries – but you’re also extending your back, Makato says. This is great for counter balance, she adds. It’s important to lean back and stretch.

Use Stability Balls

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The stability ball can be a valuable tool in your workout routine. [See: Trainers Share the Top Weight Loss Mistakes People Make at the Gym] The most obvious exercise is the stability ball crunch, but you can also perform dumbbell bench and shoulder press exercises to engage the core. Lay down, put your feet over the ball and release the pelvis. Most people tuck their pelvis in and flatten their lower back while doing crunches, but this is a mistake, Makato says. “Release the pelvis and find the spine’s neutral position, then crunch.”

Mountain Climbers

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This is an awesome exercise for balance, quickness and coordination and is one of Makato’s favorite, she says. “But I like it with a glide.” It is a full body exercise, primarily used for cardio, which also builds strength. It’s also a plyometric move that strengthens multiple muscle groups – core, lower and upper body. The torso won’t drop towards the ground because the obliques, abdominals and the muscles around the hips are all engaged. Place your hands on a medicine ball for a bigger challenge.

Scissors

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This is another very effective exercise for the lower abs, Babidiye says. Lie on your back with arms at your side; pull navel into the spine; lift both legs up at once until they are perpendicular to the floor; slowly lower your back down. Do not let your back arch up off the floor. Add a scissor kick vertically and horizontally up a few inches (legs stay straight and move up and down or side to side and crisscross each other).

Leg Raises

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Lower-leg raises are great for the abs. They can be really tough. Make sure your back us supported, Babidiye says. Leg raises are often recommended as a beginner’s strength exercise. Try lowering the legs on the opposite leg to the ground because it’s low intensity. Make it a little more challenging by adding weight by holding a dumbbell in between your feet.

Knee Tucks

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“I love them,” Babidiye says. This exercise targets your abs and shoulders. Start in downward facing dog pose. Lift your left leg up in the air behind you as high as you can. Begin to tuck your right knee in towards your chest as you slowly come forward with the rest of your body. Slowly reverse the movement to return to the starting position. Add resistance or change the tempo if it’s not hard enough, she adds.

Dead Bug

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The dead bug exercise is usually for beginners. It’s used a lot in physical therapy and by people who have a weak core. The exercise needs to be done methodically, slow and correctly, Babidiye says. You should be lying on your back; your hands should be reaching up or you can leave them by your side. Bring your knees up forming a 90-degree angle. Start the exercise by extending one leg – straighten the knee and hip. Maintain this position for a few seconds, switch legs and repeat.

Running

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One of the biggest benefits people don’t associate with jogging is toned abs. There are four types of abdominal muscles – the rectus abdominis (the 6-pack muscle), the internal obliques (inner sides), external obliques (outer sides) and the transverse abdominis. The last one – the muscle that creates the lines of definition on the side of your core – is the deepest of the four. Nothing targets those muscles like running.

V-Up

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Begin lying on your back with your arms extended over your head. [See: Best Core Exercises You're Not Doing...But Should] Keep your core tight and engage your abdominal muscles to lift your upper body off the ground while also lifting your legs, reaching your fingers towards your toes. Pause for a beat and then slowly return to the starting position.

Boat Pose

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The boat pose is a top core strength pose in Yoga. It is a very effective core strengthener which activates your power center. The move also helps engage your abs and other core muscles, strengthening the abdominals, hip flexors and quadriceps, as well as targeting the back muscles.