When our goal is to improve our abs, it’s important to include a lower ab workout. The rectus abdominis is the only muscle that runs down our abdomen, but most abs movements only activate the ‘upper’ section.

Lower abs are important for maintaining good posture and balance, and strong obliques can help you twist and turn your body with ease. Working on your lower abs can be tricky and may not show results immediately, as your body is evolutionary predisposed to storing excess fat in that area. However, having strong lower abs is important for posture and balance, as well as being able to twist and turn your body with ease.

Your body is a temple, but it can be lazy if you do not keep it active. If part of your core is weak, other body parts will have to work harder to compensate, not just when you are working out, but also during everyday activities like sitting at your desk or driving. If your lower abs are not strong, your back and hips will eventually suffer.

An anterior pelvic tilt is where your pelvis is rotated forward, forcing your spine to curve. This is caused by our modern lifestyle and a large percentage of the population suffer from it. Tom Donaldson, head coach at Orangetheory Fitness Wandsworth says that strengthening your core helps bring your pelvis back into a neutral position and improving your posture in the process. This is important since dynamic posture, which is how you hold yourself as you move, has a direct impact on your athletic performance.

Donaldson stresses the importance of a stable pelvis and spine for generating power with the upper and lower body. He explains that this stability comes from strong core muscles and glutes, which is especially beneficial for athletes who need to lift heavy weights, run quickly, and change direction often.

There are seven gut-strengthening moves below. To get the most out of each exercise, breathe in during the ‘eccentric’ part of the exercise – the lowering phase – and breathe out during the ‘concentric’ part (as you return to neutral), suggests Emily Juniper, trainer at F45 Central London.

The Benefits of Ab Exercises

Slowly raise your upper body off the ground, keeping your lower back pressed firmly into the mat. One of the benefits of lower ab exercises is that they help build a strong core, which is necessary for overall athletic performance, balance, posture, injury prevention, and functional strength. Another benefit is that they can give you the muscle tone and definition you want. However, a lot of this depends on your diet and overall body fat percentage. Some of the best lower ab exercises for men are listed below.

Shred Your Lower Abs with These 7 Killer Moves

Heel Tap Crunch

How:

  • Lie on your back with your heels near your glutes.
  • Brace your core, lift your shoulders off the floor and reach down to touch your right heel with your right hand, then your left heel with your other hand. That’s one rep.

This exercise primarily targets the lower abs, obliques, and hip flexors, Juniper explains. It can be made more difficult or easier by adjusting the distance between your heels and glutes. Don’t worry about speed. Controlling the movement is more effective than looking like a wacky waving inflatable arm-flailing tube man.

Mountain Climbers

How:

  • Set up on the floor as though in a sprinter’s block, with one foot positioned beneath your waist and one back, with your leg straight.
  • Shoulders should be stacked in line with your hands placed on the floor and your body should maintain a neutral plank position throughout. Swap foot positions.

Slow, controlled movement will help you work your lower abs more effectively. Try to keep your hips and spine level, as if you had a glass of water balanced on your lower back.

Side Plank

How:

  • Lie on your left side with your knees straight and prop your upper body up to take its weight on your forearm.
  • Brace your core and raise your hips until your body forms a straight line. Hold this position while breathing deeply. Then roll over and repeat on the other side.

If you want to work your transverse abdominal muscles and obliques, Juniper says that a side plank is a great exercise. She also says that it works the glutes, quads, and hamstrings. To make the exercise more challenging, you can raise your upper leg or arm.

Reverse Crunch

How:

  • Lie on your back with your arms on the floor at your sides, palms facing down.
  • Bend your knees and bring them towards your chest by contracting your abs. As they rise, roll your pelvis to lift your hips off the floor.
  • Squeeze at the top then slowly lower until your thighs are perpendicular to the floor.

This exercise is great for your rectus abdominis, says Juniper. To make it more challenging, use resistance bands or a cable machine.

Variation: Weighted Reverse Crunches

The most effective lower ab exercise is the reverse crunch. The key is to squeeze your lower abs and keep your lower back in full contact with the ground. Beginners can skip the weight, but as you get stronger, add ankle weights or a small medicine ball between your knees for added difficulty.

Equipment: Ankle weights or a small medicine ball

Reps: 25

Sets: 3

  • Lie on your back with your hips flexed so that your thighs are perpendicular to the floor, your knees are up in the air bent to 90 degrees, and your shins are parallel to the ground up in the air.
  • Place your arms by your sides and squeeze a small medicine ball between your knees.
  • Draw your belly button in and engage your abs while you slowly lower both legs in tandem toward the ground, maintaining the bend in your knees and a tight abdomen.
  • Gently tap your heels on the floor and then lift your leg back up to the starting position using only your core muscles and slightly upward beyond that toward your chest, keeping the medicine ball between your knees.
  • Complete 25 slow reps.

Oblique Crunch

How:

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Put your right hand behind your head, your elbow flared out, and your left palm down perpendicular to your torso.
  • Contract your abs to lift your shoulders off the floor and rotate your body to bring your right elbow towards your left knee. Slowly lower and repeat all your reps before swapping sides.

This is a great exercise for strengthening your oblique muscles and the muscles around your core. To make it more challenging, try lifting your legs a few centimeters off the ground while you do the exercise, and then switch sides.

Double Crunches

A double crunch is a crunch combined with a reverse crunch, making it a good exercise for lower abs.

Equipment Needed: None

Reps: 15

Sets: 3

Execution:

  • Lie on your back with your knees and hips flexed to 90 degrees so that your shins are parallel to the floor up in the air.
  • Place your fingertips at your temples or just behind your ears with your elbows out to the sides.
  • Inhale, drawing your belly button to your spine.
  • Crunch up to raise your shoulder blades off the floor while simultaneously bringing your knees up to your elbows by squeezing your lower abs.

Slowly return to the starting position.

Front Leg Raise

How:

  • Lie back on the bench with your legs extended in front of you off the end. Use your hands to grip the bench and steady yourself.
  • Place your hands either under your glutes with your palms down or by the sides holding on to the bench.
  • Keeping your legs straight as possible, exhale and raise them until they make a 90-degree angle with the floor. Slowly lower to the starting position.

If you’re feeling strain in your lower back, try this tip: “To take the strain off your lower back slightly while still working your lower abs, go one leg at a time, keeping the other at a 90-degree angle,” says Donaldson. To add more resistance, “lift your glutes off the floor at the top of the motion each time or hold a Swiss ball between your ankles,” adds Juniper.

Medicine Ball Jackknife

How:

  • Grab a medicine ball and lie down on your back holding the ball over your head. Your arms and legs should be outstretched with your hands and feet lifted just above the floor.
  • Begin the exercise by simultaneously raising your torso and legs to touch the medicine ball to your feet. Then slowly lower back towards the floor. That’s one rep.

Juniper says that she loves this exercise because it produces a burning sensation quickly and works nearly 12 muscles in the body, focusing mainly on the rectus abdominis. To make the exercise more challenging, Juniper suggests trying to keep your feet off the ground between reps.

Low Plank With Alternating Leg Lifts

This plank variation is great for strengthening your core, particularly your lower abs and obliques.

Equipment: None

Reps: 25

Sets: 3

Execution:

  • Get in a push-up position except place your forearms on the ground with your elbows under your shoulders instead of weight-bearing through your hands. Make sure your body is in a straight line from your head to your heels.
  • Breathe, drawing your abdomen in and pulling your belly button toward your spine.
  • Lift one foot slightly off the ground, bend the knee, and draw your knee up and out to the side like a frog.
  • Alternate legs, moving slowly.

Alternating Toe Touch

An alternating toe touch is an extension of a double crunch that has even more benefits. It targets the entire abdominal wall in a single motion. It’s a great core exercise because it trains the abs to work together across several planes of motion.

Equipment Needed: None

Reps: 12 per leg

Sets: 3

Execution:

  • Lie on your back with your legs straight up in the air and arms straight overhead on the floor above your head.
  • Engage your core to crunch up and toward one side, reaching across your body to touch the opposite foot. Make sure you keep your shoulders pulled down away from your ears.
  • Return to the starting position without fully touching your arms back down to the floor (just hover for added difficulty).
  • Alternate sides with each rep.

Stability Ball Push-Ups and Tucks

The following exercise is a great way to work your entire body, as well as your lower abs specifically. To do this, you will need to put your feet up on a stability ball, and then complete push-ups. This will force your abs to engage and stabilize your body to prevent you from falling off the ball. If you want to make the exercise even more challenging, you can add a tuck between push-ups. Eventually, you may even be able to progress to a pike motion by keeping your knees straight.

Equipment Needed: Stability ball

Reps: 15 per leg

Sets: 3

Execution:

  • Get in a push-up position with your arms slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and your feet behind you on a stability ball with the laces part of the shoe in contact with the ball.
  • Keep your glutes and abs engaged, perform a push-up, be sure to use good form, and to bring your chest as low as you can go without touching the floor.
  • When you’re back in the starting position, before moving into the second rep, engage your glutes, hip flexors, and abs to pull your knees forward toward your chest, rolling the ball forward toward your hands.
  • Untuck your legs and straighten them back out to the starting position.
  • Complete another push-up.
  • Alternate between push-ups and tucks. Progress to pikes (knees straight) as you get stronger.

 

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