The Best Exercises That Work Your Lower Abs
If there’s one thing everyone can agree on, it’s that lower belly fat is the worst. Sadly, getting the six-pack you’ve always wanted isn’t as easy as performing tons of crunches. For one thing, seeing such definition means you can’t be carrying around excess weight. That means you need to do some cardio. Even then, you’ll also need to train your lower abdominal muscles. HuffPost says the best way to sculpt those lower abs is by doing exercises that move your legs, hip flexors, and lower abdomen. Get started with these six exercises.
1. Mountain climber
Begin in a plank position, palms on the ground and arms straight out in front of you, right underneath your shoulders. Your legs should be extended in a straight line. Keeping your back flat and your arms in the same position throughout, quickly tuck your right knee toward your chest, then jump it back to the ground as you simultaneously pull your left leg toward your chest. Repeat quickly as many times as possible.
2. Lying leg raise
Bodybuilding.com says to start this exercise by lying flat on your back with your hands underneath your glutes, palms down, and legs extended straight out in front of you. Lift your legs slowly off the floor until they’re perpendicular to the ground. Hold for a second, then bring them back down to the floor. To increase the challenge, don’t let your feet touch the ground in between reps.
Just be a little wary if you have a bad back. If that’s the case, these moves might be better options.
This move is similar to the lying leg raise, except you’ll be lifting one leg at a time. Real Simple says to lie on your back with both of your legs lifted so they’re perpendicular to the ground. With both your head and shoulder blades lifted off the ground, bring your right leg down until it’s about six inches from the floor as you gently pull your left leg toward your body. Switch sides for one rep and repeat 10 times.
4. Dead bug
Men’s Health explains one reason this exercise is so effective is because it works your abs while stabilizing your spine. This prevents you from flexing your lower back, which ensures proper form.
Muscle & Fitness says to start this move on your back with your arms at your sides. Lift your legs off the ground and bend your knees so they create a 90-degree angle. Then, extend your right leg forward until it’s a few inches from the floor while extending your left arm straight behind you. Bring them back to starting position and repeat with the opposite arm and leg.
How to Do the Dead Bug Exercise
The dead bug exercise is a popular way to build core strength and stabilization.
It helps build a solid, stable foundation that protects the spine and allows for greater ease in everyday and athletic movements, such as moving heavy objects, walking up hills, and throwing.
This move also helps prevent and relieve low back pain by protecting your lower back.
It’s a supine abdominal exercise. That means you do it lying on your back. Read on for instructions and tips.
Do this exercise on a padded mat. To support your neck, place a folded towel or flat cushion under your shoulders.
Keep your hips and low back still throughout the exercise. Perform the movement slowly and with control. Engage your core muscles and press your lower back into the floor.
Here’s a video showing you how:
Set up for the pose by lying on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor, about a foot away from your hips. Rest your arms alongside your body.
To do it:
- Allow your shoulders and lower back to fall heavy to the floor.
- Draw your shoulders down away from your ears. To get into the starting position, lift your hands so your elbows are above your shoulders with your fists facing in toward each other.
- Lift your legs so your knees are directly over your hips.
- On an exhale, slowly lower your right arm and left leg until they’re just above the floor.
- On an inhale, bring them back to the starting position.
- Repeat on the opposite side.
- This is 1 rep.
Start by doing 1 to 3 sets of 5 to 12 repetitions on each side.
Once you’ve mastered the dead bug and can easily do a few sets, you can progress to more advanced variations. Or you can build a longer routine composed of variations ranging in difficulty.
There are several modifications and variations of the dead bug exercise to make it more or less challenging.
- Heel taps. Keeping your knee bent, slowly lower one foot at a time and tap the floor with your heel.
- Leg extensions. Press one foot away from your body to straighten your leg, hovering it above the floor.
- Leg raises. Straighten your legs so your feet are facing the ceiling, then slowly lower down one leg at a time.
- Palms against the wall. Bring your arms overhead and press your palms into the wall with your knees above your hips. This is great for beginners.
To make it easier
- Lie on your back with both feet on the floor. Slowly slide one foot away from you, then bring it back and switch legs.
- Start with your hands resting on the floor above your head and your feet on the floor. Then lift your arm and the opposite leg as you would normally.
- Do one arm and one leg at a time. Then try doing both arms and both legs at one time.
- Decrease the range of motion by not moving your arms and legs down the entire way.
To make it more difficult
- Use ankle weights, dumbbells, or kettlebells.
- Lower both arms and legs at the same time.
- Strengthen your pelvic floor by doing Kegel exercises during the exercise.
To do it:
- Use a resistance band around your lower thighs for stability.
- Lie on your back with your knees above your hips.
- Use both hands to hold a weighted ball above your shoulders.
- Keep the rest of your body stable as you lower the ball overhead, pausing here.
- Slowly return to the starting position.
Using a stability ball helps increase core and spinal stability. Keep your lower back stable and rooted to the floor throughout the exercise. The only movement should be in your arms and legs.
To do it:
- Lie on your back. Hold a stability ball between your hands and knees.
- Prevent the ball from touching your thighs, forearms, and chest.
- Press your lower back into the floor as you extend your left arm and right leg down to the floor.
- Hold the ball in place by pressing up and in with your left knee and down and away with your right hand.
- Hold this position for a few seconds, then return to the starting position.
- Repeat on the opposite side.
- Do 1 to 3 sets of 8 to 12 reps.
You’ll also improve balance and coordination. You may find you have the strength and stability to move better during daily and athletic activities.
The benefits of the dead bug are recognized by experts across the board. It’s one of the recommended exercises for:
5. Reverse crunch
More effective for your lower abs than just the average crunch, reverse crunches deserve to become part of your routine. Men’s Health has a great tutorial that shows you’ll start by lying on your back, legs raised with knees bent at a 90-degree angle. Then, lift your lower back off the floor as you tuck your pelvis toward your belly button. Instead of relying on momentum by kicking your legs, keep it controlled so your abs do the work. Bring your body back down to the floor with the same control and repeat 10 times.
6. Bird dog crunch
This move not only works your lower abs, but is also a great arm workout. To begin, Self says to start on all fours in tabletop position. Your hands should be underneath your shoulders and your knees should be below your hips. Next, extend your right arm forward and your left leg back until they’re both parallel to the ground. Now, tighten your core and bring both your arm and leg in toward your body until your elbow and knee just about touch. Extend back out for one rep and repeat until you’ve completed a full set. After one set, switch sides.