Your abdominal muscles (abs) sit between your ribcage and your pelvis. Along with your back muscles, they help form the part of your body called the core. The core helps you stay balanced and keeps your spine protected. Most common physical activities — such as walking or running — rely on a strong core.
Many people neglect to exercise their abdominal muscles. Doing so can lead to health problems such as obesity, bad posture, and weakness. Therefore, it’s important to exercise your abs to make sure they stay strong.
Some of the most common ab exercises target your lower abdominal muscles. This is one area where fat is stored in the body. Body fat is needed to some extent, to help you stay warm and equipped with enough energy-burning material. However, too much body fat is not good.
Lower abdominal exercises focus on tightening and strengthening the abdominal area. If worked enough, they can also help you lose belly fat and harden to form defined muscles called a six pack.
It’s important to start any new exercise program slowly. If you feel sharp pain while doing any exercise, stop and talk to a doctor before continuing.
Exercises to Help Lower Abs
The goal of these exercises is to target key parts of the lower abs and strengthen them to improve posture, stability, and balance in daily activity.
Most lower ab exercises can be done without extra equipment. However, some of the moves listed below do require sliders or towels.
1. Mountain Climbers
Mountain climbers work your entire body as well as your core. They are a form of cardio as well — meaning, they increase your heart rate when you do them.
To get started, place yourself in a plank position. This means elevating your body off the ground with your arms (think of the “up” position of a push-up). Remember to keep your body straight and your pelvis tucked slightly. Your arms should be shoulder-width apart with both palms on the floor. Your legs should be extended behind you, feet together.
Once in this position, slowly move your right knee to your chest then back again. Next, draw your left knee to your chest and back again. This is one repetition (rep).
Increase your pace and move quickly to exercise the rectus abdominis — a pair of muscles that runs down your abdomen and forms the bulk of the abdominal muscles.
You should repeat this exercise several times for optimum results. Professionals recommend 15 to 20 reps on each side for beginners.
2. Lying Leg Raises
This exercise strengthens your lower abs but doesn’t require you to hold yourself up while you do so. Instead, lie on your back with legs extended, feet together. Rest the palms of your hands on either side of your body.
Raise your legs up together slowly. Ensure they are perpendicular to the floor for better results. Hold for 1 or 2 seconds before bringing both legs back down to the floor. Do this 10 to 15 reps or more for best results.
If you want to make the exercise more effective, don’t let your feet touch the ground. Also, be sure not to arch your back — it can lead to back problems if you do. If you have a bad back, consider talking to your doctor before starting this exercise.
When people think of lower ab exercises, they often think of crunches. These low-impact exercises target your upper abs and your lower abs. However, they likely won’t help you lose weight because they don’t make you burn a lot of calories. Nevertheless, they are a good place to start if you want to strengthen your abs.
To do a standard crunch, begin by lying on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the ground.
Slowly lift your shoulders off the ground, tucking your arms behind your head. Curl your upper body toward your knees, tightening your ab muscles as you lift up. Then lower back down to the ground. That is one rep.
Try to do 12 to 20 reps in a row. If it’s easy, continue. If it’s difficult or you’re feeling major pain, stop. If pain continues for hours or days, talk to a doctor.
- Reverse crunch
- Bicycle crunch
- Runner’s crunch
- Bird dog crunch
4. Scissor Kicks
This exercise is similar to the lying leg raise workout. However, you lift one leg at a time rather than both together.
Start by lying on your back with both of your legs extended, feet together. Rest your hands palms-down on either side of your body or underneath your buttocks for support. Lift your shoulder blades and head off the ground. Then, bring your legs up off the ground.
With legs elevated, turns lifting and lowering your legs, one after the other. Make sure your feet hover above the ground after you bring them down — about six inches.
You can repeat the exercise as many times as desired.
5. Knee Tucks (With Sliders or Exercise Ball)
For this exercise, you’ll need towels or sliders. Assume a plank position and place both of your feet on the towels or sliders.
Pull both feet to your chest and gradually move back to the starting position. Do this as many times as possible, or at least 10 times if you’re a beginner.
Avoid leaning your upper body forward too much or hunching your shoulders — this can lead to problems if done too much.
If you want more of a challenge, you can use an exercise ball. Instead of placing your legs on sliders or towels, balance your legs on top of the ball. Draw both knees toward your chest and return to the starting point.
6. Toe Touches
The toe touch is a great lower ab exercise for people who feel comfortable with beginner workouts and want more of a challenge. It uses elements from different lower ab exercises listed here as well, making it easy to transition into other lower ab exercises after completing this one.
First, start by lying on your back on the floor, exercise mat, or towel. Your knees should be bent and your feet planted firmly on the ground. Rest your arms at your sides.
Stiffen your abdominal muscles. Try to keep them this way throughout the entire exercise. Next, bring your legs up off the floor, straightening them to be perpendicular to your body. Point your toes away from your body.
Then, lift your hands toward your toes, lifting your shoulders and head off the ground as you do so. Lower your hands and upper body back down. This is one rep.
Repeat this process several times, keeping your legs perpendicular to the floor and your abs tightening throughout the exercise.
There is no doubt that good health is critical to an individual’s life. The above lower abs exercises will help you get into the required shape and ensure that you live a happy and healthy life.
However, it’s important to remember to take new exercises slowly. If sharp or prolonged pain occurs, talk to your doctor or seek advice from another healthcare professional, such as a physical therapist.