The lower ab area is a trouble spot for many people - especially women who have been through pregnancy. These eleven exercises target this zone of your body, helping to strengthen the muscles of the lower abs
Work the Lower Abs
While you can't "spot-reduce" any part of your body - including the lower abs - it's possible to target specific muscles to help strengthen them. Combine dietary changes with the following exercises to help strengthen your lower abs while revealing a more defined abdominal region.
Leg lifts can target your lower abs. Ankle weights can turn this exercise into a weighted lower ab exercise, but don't go too heavy as injury may occur. 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.
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 as straight as possible. 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.
Weighted Russian Twists
Use a hand weight, kettlebell, or other type of weight to make this weighted lower ab exercise more challenging.
- Sit on the ground, with knees bent and feet either planted on the ground (easier) or lifted above the floor (harder).
- Grasp the weight in your hands and twist to the right, tapping the weight to the ground.
- Twist to the left, tapping the weight on the ground.
- Repeat, alternating from right to left.
This classic exercise not only targets the lower abs, but also provides some cardio work.
- Starting in a plank position, hop your right leg in, pulling your knee to below your stomach or chest.
- Extend your right leg back as you quickly hop your left leg in, just as you did above with the right.
- Quickly alternate from right to left.
Another cardio option that targets the lower abs, this exercise also strengthens leg muscles.
- Start jogging in place, drawing your knees higher.
- Aim to bring your knees up to to higher than your waistline.
- Focus on bringing your knees up as high as you can, as quickly as you can.
Creating a Routine
Your lower ab routine should include both strength and cardio exercises, much like a circuit workout. Aim to do around 30 minutes, twice a week. This should be in addition to your other workouts, which should comprise of both strength work and cardio.
Sample Lower Ab Workout
Try this workout, customizing it using any of the exercises listed above. Start with a warm up and be sure to cool down and stretch afterward. In between each exercise, allow 15-30 seconds of rest if you need it.
- Choose a stability ball exercise from the list above and do it for 60 seconds.
- Do mountain climbers or high knees for 60 seconds.
- Choose a body weight lower ab exercise (such as bicycle crunches, flutter kicks, etc.) from above and do it for 60 seconds.
- Repeat step #2.
- Choose a weighted lower ab exercise from above (such as leg lifts or weighted Russian twists) and do it for 60 seconds.
- Repeat step #2.
- Start over at the beginning, going through this sequence twice. This should result in around a half hour of exercise, including recovery breaks.
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, so you'll need to burn fat all over in order to reveal the results of all your hard work.