Lower ab workouts, along with regular cardio and a proper diet, can help create sleek, toned-looking abs. These ten exercises target this zone of your body.
Exercises for Home or Gym
The term "lower abs" is actually a misnomer - your lower abs are actually part of the rectus abdominus, the muscles that run down your torso between your sternum and hips. Any abdominal exercise that targets the rectus abdominus will target the lower abs. The following exercises target the muscle group from different angles, helping to tone your lower stomach area.
Traditional crunches are the go-to for people who want to flatten their abs. They will focus more on the upper abs than lower, but they're still an important move to keep in your lower ab repertoire as well. When you use proper form (i.e. pull your belly button in to your spine as you lift), your lower abs will get a workout, too.
- Keep your head in line with your body throughout the movement. You can accomplish this by pretending you're standing with perfect posture throughout the movement. Looking at the ceiling while you perform the crunch can help you keep your form.
- Avoid locking your hands behind your head. This can cause you to pull forward on your neck and break your body's alignment.
- Breathe out through the nose as you crunch up. Breathe in as you lower down.
- Pull your navel in toward your spine as you crunch.
Leg lifts can target your abs. Here's how to do them:
- Lie on your back on the floor with your feet together and your legs straight.
- Tuck your hands palms-down below your buttocks to stabilize your back.
- Point your toes and lift your legs up until they're perpendicular to the rest of your body.
- Throughout this motion keep your abs engaged and your lower back in contact with the floor.
- Lower your legs back down, stopping just before your heels touch the ground.
- Continue the exercise.
Reverse crunches are another great exercise to try. Simply perform the following steps:
- For reverse crunches, start as you did for the leg lifts.
- Instead of keeping your legs straight as you lift your feet off the floor, bend your knees and pull them up to your chest as you roll your hips off the floor.
- Reverse the movement and stop with your heels inches from the floor.
- Repeat the exercise.
Stability Ball Pike
You'll need a stability ball for this exercise, but it's an excellent choice for targeting those abs:
- Kneel behind a stability ball on the floor.
- Lean over the top of the stability ball and place your hands in front of the ball on the floor.
- Walk your hands forward, pulling your torso over the top of the ball until your shins are resting on the top of the ball and your body is in a pushup-like position. Your back should be straight, and your palms should be directly under your shoulders.
- Tighten your abs and pike your hips up toward the ceiling, keeping your legs and back straight until your body forms an inverted "V."
- Slowly return to the starting position.
Stability Ball Roll-Out
You can also use your stability ball to perform a roll-out. Here's how to do it:
- Start the stability ball roll-out like you did the stability ball pike - with your shins on the stability ball and your body in a pushup-like position.
- This time, tighten your abs and bend your knees, pulling them in toward your chest as you roll the stability ball forward.
- When your knees reach your chest, reverse the movement and roll the ball back behind you as you straighten your legs.
- Lie on your back on the ground with your legs fully extended.
- Place your arms along your sides with your hands under your butt, palms against the floor.
- Tighten your abs and lift your heels off the floor approximately six to eight inches.
- Scissor your right leg up so that it forms a 60-degree angle with the ground, then begin flutter kicking your legs, so that you drop your right leg toward the ground as you lift your left leg up into the air at a 60-degree angle. Make sure you initiate these movements from your abs, keeping your lower back flush to the ground and your core tight.
- Continue flutter kicking for 30 to 60 seconds.
Pulse and Hold
You don't need any equipment for the following exercise, which works well at flattening the stomach:
- Lie on your back with your legs extended straight, your arms along your sides with your hands under your butt, your palms against the floor.
- Lift your legs off the ground, extending them straight up into the air so they're perpendicular to the floor.
- Tighten your abs and lift your hips up off the floor, pulsing them up toward the ceiling two to three inches.
- Lower your hips and continue lifting and lowering them in a pulsing fashion for 15 counts.
- On the 15th pulse, hold your hips up off the floor for a count of 10.
- Lower your hips to the floor.
The plank exercise is fantastic for targeting all the muscles in your abdomen, including the lower abs.
- Lay down on your stomach, with your forearms on the ground in front of you.
- Push up off of the ground so you're resting on the balls of your feet and your forearms.
- Keep everything in between perfectly straight. This will require you to pull your abs up and in to keep your back from arching.
While traditional crunches and sit-ups only work the upper abs, V sit-ups target the lower abs as well.
- Begin on your back with your arms extended over your head and your legs straight out on the ground.
- Pull your arms forward while you lift your shoulders off of the ground.
- At the same time, keep your lower back on the ground and pull your legs upwards to meet your arms.
- Pause and gently lower back to the ground.
The bicycle crunch is also performed laying on your back and targets both the upper and lower abs at once.
- Stretch out on the ground, with your hands tucked behind your head.
- Pull your shoulders up off of the ground while you contract your abdominal muscles and keep your lower back against the floor.
- Slowly bring one leg up off for the floor and in toward your chest.
- Release this leg while you pull the next one in, in a cycling motion.
- Hold your shoulders off the ground while you bicycle your legs through at least ten reps.
- Lower and repeat.
Best Videos for Lower Abs
If you're not big on fitness centers or gyms, you can still target your lower abs with some excellent at-home workout videos. The great thing about workout videos is that they push you to do more than you might otherwise make yourself do on your own. Here are a few videos with lower ab workouts:
- Best of Tamilee ABS! ABS! ABS!: This is a collection of seven of Tamilee Webb's best ab workouts from her other videos.
- Winsor Pilates (20-Minute Workout, Accelerated Body Sculpting, and Ab Sculpting are all effective): These are workouts by Mari Winsor. Any of her Pilates workouts will sculpt lower abs, but some of them work other parts of the body simultaneously.
- Perfect Abs: You get eight ab routines with this DVD, and each one is around eight or nine minutes long.
- Gunnar Petersen's Core Secrets: You'll need a fitness ball for this exercise. Using a stability ball for any exercise will immediately engage your core, including the lower abs. Gunnar Peterson has several different DVDs, some of which just focus on the abs, to choose from.
Watching workout videos is even easier, thanks to YouTube and Exercise.com. You can learn new abdominal exercises and check your form with the pros when you utilize online videos while working out at home. A large number of online video exercise demonstrations are free.
Additional Tips for Great Abs
Here are a few more tips for getting the abs you dream of:
- Do 30 to 45 minutes of cardio three to five times per week. That includes things like going for a run, walking your dog at a brisk pace, swimming, or dancing.
- Lay off the salt. Salt can cause you to bloat, which makes your tummy look less than taut.
- Eat a nutritious and calorically-balanced diet. Abs start in the kitchen, really, and without the proper diet, your hard work will be covered up by a layer of fat. Eat lots of fresh fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains.
- Be sure to give your lower back a workout too. Your posture depends on it and it will help prevent back injuries later.
- Drink plenty of water. When you're dehydrated, your body holds onto the water it gets. That causes bloating in the lower ab region.
Get Flatter Lower Abs
Combining ab exercises with a complete body workout plan, cardio, and a well-balanced diet will help you get beautiful abs. Don't forget to switch up your ab routine (along with your full body routine) every few weeks to keep your body guessing and speed up your results. You can't spot reduce (though you can spot tone), so you'll need to burn fat all over in order to reveal the results of all your hard work.