24 Lower Abs Exercises That Will Set Your Core on Fire

0
346

There are endless ways to work your abs, but lower abs workouts and exercises are usually the hardest to come by. The upper abs and obliques tend to get all the love from many popular exercises, while the lower abs are notoriously harder to target.

For the record, we technically don’t have separate “upper abs” and “lower abs.” When people refer to either, they’re actually talking about just different areas of the rectus abdominis, the muscle that runs vertically from your sternum to your pelvis on each side of your abdomen. It’s what you think of when you picture six-pack abs. But it is possible to primarily activate one part of the rectus abdominis—say, the lower part—while the upper section mostly chills out. The movement you’re doing will determine which portion of the muscle (and the rest of your core, for that matter) are involved and whether you’re getting more of a lower abs workout or upper abs workout.

It’s important to work all of your core muscles, including targeting the lower section of the rectus abdominis. If one portion of your core is weak, this can cause other areas to become overactive as they try take on more of the work, Jason Loebig, an NASM-certified personal trainer and the founder of Live Better, tells SELF. Your hips and lower back are particularly vulnerable to taking over, and ultimately becoming strained, especially if you spend a good part of your sitting down.

“As a result of sitting with poor posture for lengthy periods of time, the hip flexors and lower back may suffer,” says Loebig. “A strong core, specifically the ability to maintain a small amount of tension in the abs while sitting, helps to relieve tight hips and lower back pain by keeping the spine and pelvis in the correct posture position,” he says. So, even if you’ve got strong upper abs and obliques, strengthening your lower abs is important for making sure your core is putting in all the work it should.

To get familiar with where your lower abs are and how to engage them (along with the rest of your core, Loebig recommends a simple breathing exercise. “Start lying down on your back and take some deep breaths through the belly. If you put your right hand on your chest and your left hand on your belly, your left hand should be rising and falling. Each time you exhale, you want to engage your abs like you’re going to take a punch to the gut.”

This starts to warm up your core, so you can bring on the real work, no matter what type of abs exercises you’re doing. Here are some of the best lower abs exercises to get your whole core working more efficiently. Add a couple into your regular workout, or string four to five together to create your own custom lower abs workout.

Demoing the move below are Cookie Janee, a background investigator, and security forces specialist in the Air Force Reserve; Amanda Wheeler, a certified strength and conditioning specialist and co-founder of Formation Strength, an online women’s training group that serves the LGBTQ community and allies; and Crystal Williams, a group fitness instructor, and trainer who teaches at residential and commercial gyms across New York City.

1. Dead Bug

  • Lie faceup with your arms extended toward the ceiling and your legs in a tabletop position (knees bent 90 degrees and stacked over your hips). This is a starting position.
  • Slowly extend your right leg out straight, while simultaneously dropping your left arm overhead. Keep both a few inches from the ground. Squeeze your butt and keep your core engaged the entire time, lower back pressed into the floor.
  • Bring your arm and leg back to the starting position.
  • Repeat on the other side, extending your left leg and your right arm.

2. Jackknife

  • Lie faceup with your legs extended and arms extended overhead on the floor, keeping them close to your ears. Contract your abs to press your low back into the ground. This is the starting position.
  • Point your toes, squeeze your thighs together, engage your glutes, and simultaneously lift your legs and upper back off the ground, reaching your hands forward to meet your feet so that your body forms a V.
  • Keep your core engaged as you slowly lower to return to starting position.

3. Mountain Climber

  • Start in high plank, with your palms flat on the floor, hands shoulder-width apart (or wider if that’s how you usually do push-ups), shoulders stacked above your wrists, legs extended, and core engaged.
  • Engage your core and draw your right knee to your chest.
  • Return to starting position and immediately draw your left knee to your chest.
  • Continue to alternate, moving quickly.
  • Make sure to keep your core engaged and back flat throughout. If you have to slow down to maintain form, that’s fine.

4. Scissor Switch

  • Lie faceup with your legs straight and arms extended overhead.
  • Extend your right leg up so that it’s perpendicular to the floor. Bring your hands behind your right leg, pulling it in toward your face, and curl your shoulder blades off the floor. Lift your left leg off the floor a few inches.
  • Switch legs, lowering your right leg so that it hovers a few inches above the floor and pulling your left leg in toward you.
  • Continue switching your legs.

5. Plank Hop

  • Start in high plank, with your palms flat on the floor, hands shoulder-width apart (or wider if that’s how you usually do push-ups), shoulders stacked above your wrists, legs extended, feet together, and core engaged. This is starting position.
  • Engage your abs and squeeze your quads to keep your legs together as you jump your feet forward and to the right, bringing your knees toward your right elbow.
  • Jump your feet back to start, and then jump your feet forward and to the left, bringing your knees toward your left elbow.
  • Jump your feet back together. This is 1 rep.
  • Continue alternating sides. Start with a slow pace and focus on form. You can speed up the jumps as you get more comfortable with the movement.

6. Crab Toe Touch

Home body today show GIF on GIFER - by Landalsa
  • Sit on the floor with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor and together. Place your hands behind you, with your fingers facing your body.
  • Lift your hips off the mat as you kick your right leg up straight and touch your right foot with your left hand.
  • Lower your leg and arm back to starting position, and then repeat the movement with the other hand and leg. That’s 1 rep.
  • Continue alternating sides.

7. Plank Jack

Plank Jacks: How-to, Benefits, Safety Tips, and More
  • Start in a high plank with your palms flat on the floor, hands shoulder-width apart, shoulders stacked directly above your wrists, legs extended behind you, and your core and glutes engaged.
  • Jump your feet out and in (like jumping jacks). Try not to let your butt and hips bounce up and down as you jump your feet in and out.
  • Continue for a set amount of time.

8. Reverse Crunch

How to Do a Reverse Crunch: Techniques, Benefits, Variations
  • Lie faceup with your legs in tabletop position (knees bent 90 degrees and stacked over your hips). Place your hands behind your head, elbows bent and pointing out to the sides (as pictured), or rest your arms on the floor by the sides of your body for stability. Use your abs to curl your shoulders off the floor. This is the starting position.
  • Engage your abs and slowly curl your hips off the floor, bringing your knees toward your chest.
  • Slowly lower your hips and legs back to starting position. That’s 1 rep.

9. Mountain Climber Twist

The One Workout That Will Eliminate Your Love Handles Once & For ...
  • Start in high plank, with your palms flat on the floor, hands shoulder-width apart (or wider if that’s how you usually do push-ups), shoulders stacked above your wrists, legs extended, and core engaged.
  • Engage your core and draw your right knee to your left elbow.
  • Return to starting position and immediately draw your left knee to your right elbow.
  • Continue to alternate, moving quickly.
  • Make sure to keep your core engaged and back flat throughout. If you have to slow down to maintain form, that’s fine.

10. Pilates 100

How To Do The Pilates 100 | SELF
  • Lie faceup with your legs extended and arms on the floor by your sides.
  • Lift both legs up toward the ceiling and lower them halfway, so that they’re at about a 45-degree angle.
  • Curl your head up and lift your arms a few inches off the floor, keeping your palms down.
  • Pump your arms up and down a few inches as you inhale for 5 counts and exhale for 5 counts.
  • Repeat this breathing pattern 10 times (for a total of 100 breaths) while holding the position.

11. Boat Pose

Why Is Navasana (Boat Pose) So Hard? - Yoganatomy
  • Sit up straight with your legs bent, feet flat on the floor.
  • Keeping your legs together, slowly lift them off the floor until they form a 45-degree angle to your torso. Engage your entire core, keep your back flat, and balance on your tailbone.
  • You can keep your knees bent (as pictured) or straighten them out for more of a challenge.
  • Reach your arms straight out in front of you, parallel to the floor. If you feel that you need some extra support, place your hands on the floor, underneath your hips.
  • Hold here.

12. Half Burpee

Half Burpees - YouTube
  • Start in a deep squat with your legs about shoulder-width apart, toes slightly turned out, chest lifted, and hands in front of your chest. This is the starting position.
  • Reach forward to place your hands on the floor underneath your shoulders.
  • Kick your legs straight out behind you, so that you’re in high plank.
  • Quickly jump your legs back in and lift your chest to return to the starting position. That’s 1 rep.

13. Warrior Balance

Warrior III |
  • Stand on your left foot and lift your right knee to hip height in front of your body. Bend your elbows so that your hands are by your shoulders. This is the starting position.
  • Hinge forward at the hips and reach your arms forward as you extend your right leg behind you. Keep your standing leg slightly bent as your torso becomes parallel with the floor.
  • Pause for a second, then reverse the movement to return to starting position. That’s 1 rep.
  • Do a set number of reps on the right leg, and then switch legs and repeat.

14. Core Roll-Up

Pilates Moves for Core Strength: These 3 Exercises Are Insanely ...
  • Lie faceup with your arms extended above your head, resting on the floor.
  • Float your arms up so your wrists are directly over your shoulders, and begin to slowly curl your spine up and off the floor, starting with your shoulders and ending with your lower back.
  • Curl up to a seated position, and then continue to fold your torso over your legs, keeping your core tight the entire time.
  • Reverse the movement to roll back down to the floor, lowering from your lower back to your shoulders. That’s 1 rep.

15. Glider Mountain Climber

How to Do Sliding Mountain Climbers | POPSUGAR Fitness
  • Start in high plank, with your palms flat on the floor, hands shoulder-width apart (or wider if that’s how you usually do push-ups), shoulders stacked above your wrists, legs extended, and core engaged. Place your toes on a set of gliders or two towels. This is starting position.
  • Engage your core and dig your right foot into the floor as you slide it in and bring your right knee to your chest.
  • Slide your foot back to return to starting position and immediately slide your left foot in to bring your left knee to your chest.
  • Continue to alternate, moving quickly.
  • Make sure to keep your core engaged and back flat throughout. If you have to slow down to maintain form, that’s fine.

16. Body Saw

Body Saw Exercise Guide: Muscles Worked, How-To, Benefits ...
  • Put your toes on a set of gliders or towels and then get into a forearm plank with your forearms on the floor, elbows directly underneath your shoulders, hands facing forward so that your arms are parallel, and legs extended behind you. Tuck your tailbone and engage your core, butt, and quads. This is a starting position.
  • Slowly push with your forearms and elbows to slide the gliders or towels back toward the wall behind you. Move as far as you can without losing core engagement. Don’t let your hips sag.
  • Slowly pull with your arms and elbows to return to the starting position. This is 1 rep.

17. Bicycle Crunch

How To Do Bicycle Crunches | SELF
  • Lie faceup with your legs in a tabletop position (knees bent 90 degrees and stacked over your hips). Place your hands behind your head, elbows bent and pointing out to the sides. Use your abs to curl your shoulders off the floor. This is the starting position.
  • Twist to bring your right elbow to your left knee, while simultaneously straightening your right leg.
  • Then, twist to bring your left elbow to your right knee, simultaneously straightening your left leg. This is 1 rep.
  • Continue alternating sides. Go at a slow and steady pace so that you can really twist and feel your abs working.

18. Flutter Kick

Flutter-Kicks | Workout Trends
  • Lie faceup with your arms on the floor by your sides. If your lower back needs some extra support, you can place your hands right underneath your butt on each side.
  • Engage your abs and lift both legs about 6 inches off the floor. Keep your lower back flat on the floor. If this is too challenging, bring your legs a little higher.
  • Kick your feet (like you’re swimming freestyle) for a set amount of time.

19. Glider Plank to Pike

The Inner Thigh Workout You Can Do with Gliders | Daily Burn
  • Start in high plank, with your palms flat on the floor, hands shoulder-width apart (or wider if that’s how you usually do push-ups), shoulders stacked above your wrists, legs extended, and core engaged. Place your toes on a set of gliders or two towels. This is the starting position.
  • Engage your core and dig your feet into the floor as you slide both feet in toward your hands. As you do this, your butt will pike up toward the ceiling. Try to keep your legs as straight as you can.
  • Pause for a second at the top, and then slowly slide your feet back out to starting position. That’s 1 rep.

20. Leg Lift

Double Leg Lifts | This No-Equipment Workout Will Ignite Parts of ...
  • Lie faceup with your legs extended and your arms on the floor by your sides. If your lower back needs some extra support, you can place your hands right underneath your button on each side. This is the starting position.
  • Slowly lift your legs up and toward your face, keeping them together and stopping when they are about vertical.
  • Then, slowly lower them back down to the ground. Be sure to keep your back flat on the floor. If you’re having trouble with that or feel the tension in your lower back, don’t lower your legs as far down.

21. Butterfly Sit-Up

Reclining Bound Angle Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana) - Yoga Journal
  • Lie face up with the soles of your feet together, knees bent out to sides. Cross your arms across your chest (as shown) or reach them overhead. This is the starting position.
  • Using your abs, roll your body up until you are sitting upright and your elbows touch your thighs. That’s 1 rep.
  • Slowly lower back down to starting position and continue immediately into the next rep.

22. Leg Lift With Hip Tip

How to Do the Hip Lift: Techniques, Benefits, Variations
  • Lie faceup with your legs extended and your arms on the floor by your sides. If your lower back needs some extra support, you can place your hands right underneath your button on each side. This is the starting position.
  • Slowly lift your legs up and toward your face, keeping them together and stopping when they are about vertical.
  • At the top, tip your hips up (toward your stomach) just an inch or two. Your butt will lift off the floor a bit. Bring your hips back down to the floor.
  • Then, slowly lower your legs back down to the starting position. Be sure to keep your back flat on the floor. If you’re having trouble with that or feel the tension in your lower back, don’t lower your legs all the way to the floor. That’s 1 rep.

23. High Knees

How to Pick Up Knees When Running | High knee exercise, Slim waist ...
  • Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Keep your chest lifted and your abs tight as you quickly drive your knees toward your chest, one at a time.
  • Swing your arms, focusing on taking your hands from hip height to chin height in rhythm with your knees.
  • Move as quickly as you can for a set amount of time.

24. Down Dog Abs

Yoga + Abs - Sunday
  • Start in Downward Facing Dog, with your hands shoulder-width apart, butt lifted back and toward the ceiling, legs straight, arms extended, back flat, and your head in between your arms. Lift your right leg into the air to get into Down Dog Split (Three-Legged Down Dog).
  • Bend your right knee and bring in toward your right elbow, moving your torso into a plank position as you do. Pause, then extend your right leg back to Down Dog Split.
  • Next, bring your right knee under and across your torso toward your left elbow. Pause, then extend your right leg back to Down Dog Split. That’s 1 rep.
  • Do for a set amount of reps on one leg, and then repeat on the other leg.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here