While there really is no “lower abs,” some specific exercises isolate the lower part of your belly better than others. Most, if not all stomach exercises involve the entire abdomen, but the best exercises for lower abdomen focus will usually involve movements that have to do with lifting of the lower body. Ofcourse, also keep in mind that layers of fat covering your mid-section will always obscure any muscle you may have developed there, so shedding unwanted pounds should also be a goal. Exercise to reduce lower abdomen fat will always point to intense cardio, preferably interval training. There is also no gender specific exercises for abs, so lower abdomen exercise for women will also apply to men.
Here are some of the best exercises for lower abdomen development.
1. Hanging Leg Raises
Hanging leg raises are really challenging. It is an advanced lower abs exercise that requires something that you can hang from, such as a pull-up bar or a vertical bench. Here’s how to do this movement from fitwatch.com.
1. Begin by holding onto an overhead bar and hanging loosely in the air. Actively pack your shoulders down onto your ribcage so that your shoulders are not elevated up near your ears. It will feel like a strong muscular contraction to get your shoulders down, much like the start of a pullup. If you’re facing a mirror, you should see little “diamonds” of air between your arms and neck. This is your starting position.
2. Exhale and slowly lift your legs up in the air in front of you, folding at the hips. Try to time the depth of your exhale with how high you lift your legs. The higher you lift, the more you exhale. If your strength levels allow, do these with straight legs. If not, simply bring your thighs up to your belly until you can practice with extended legs.
3. Once your legs are as high as you can lift them, pause for a moment to regain control of the movement. You should have very little or no air in your lungs.
4. Then, allow your legs to lower under control until you are hanging again. Do not swing up or down, as this will negate the effects on the lower abs.
5. Perform 1-3 sets for 10-20 slow repetitions.
2. Reverse Crunches
Reverse crunches are just like your standard crunch, but instead of curling your upper torso, you raise your lower body. The movement will need some getting used to, but this is a great core exercise. Here’s how to do the movement as demonstrated in acefitness.org.
1. Starting Position: Lie on your back on a mat with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor and arms spread out to your sides with your palms facing down. Gently exhale. Engage your abdominal/core muscles to support the spine. Slowly lift your feet off the floor, raising your knees directly above your hips. Bend the knees to 90 degrees. Hold this position and breathe normally. Use your arms as a base of support.
2. Upward Phase: Exhale, and slowly raise your hips off the mat, rolling your spine up as if trying to bring your knees towards your head. Avoid any change in the angle of your knees during the roll-up. Use your arms and hands to assist with maintaining your balance and continue to curl-up until your spine cannot roll any further. Hold this position briefly.
3. Downward Phase: Gently inhale. With control, lower your spine and hips back to the start position.
4. Proper form is important when performing this exercise to prevent excessive stress on your low back. When returning to your starting position during the repetitions, control your leg movement. Do not allow your knees to move past your hips, but instead return to a position directly above your hips. Since the abdominals connect the rib cage to the pelvis, the emphasis of the movement should be on pulling your pelvis upwards towards your rib cage.
The plank is getting much more attention nowadays, and is getting some well-deserved and overdue credit. It is such a simple exercise that involves the strengthening of the entire core. You can make this exercise more difficult using an exercise ball. Here’s how to do the plank correctly from fitwatch.com.
1. Start on your hands and knees on the floor as if you were about to do a pushup. Lower yourself down to your elbows so that most of your weight is resting on the back side of your forearms (you should be able to give a “thumbs up” sign with your fists on the ground). Then, place your feet behind you as if in a pushup position, resting on the balls of your feet. Your body should form a straight line, with no sag or elevation of the hips. This is your starting position.
2. The key points of this exercise are to activate your abdominal muscles to “get tight” and also pull your belly button towards your spine. Do not suck in your belly, but rather contract your abs to force it to tighten up. There are two counterpoints to focus on when doing this exercise. First, press your heels back behind you, which will lock your knees and straighten your legs. Second, you’ll want to “pack” your shoulders down onto your ribcage to prevent your shoulders from lifting up or rolling backwards. All of this is done to help you keep a “long and strong” spine position.
3. Hold this position as long as you can while maintaining good form. Keep exhaling to help with the abdominal contraction.
4. Perform 1-3 sets and try to hold the position for a longer duration each session.
5. When you can perform this exercise for more than 1-2 minutes at a time, you can increase the difficulty by lifting one foot slightly off the ground. This will place a much stronger emphasis on your lower abs, along with the planted leg. Alternate planted legs between sets.
4. Air Bike Exercise
Done with proper form, the air bicycle abdominal exercise is a great movement since you are engaging your entire abdominal area as well as the hip flexors. Having your shoulders elevated, tightens-up your lower stomach muscles that are closest to your chest while the leg movement targets the hip flexors and the lower abdominal area. This exercise that will leave you sweating and aching from the intense workout you’ll get. Elite athletes love to do this movement. Here’s a how-to breakdown from thefatlossauthority.com
1. Start by lying supine on the floor with your hands clasped behind your head and elbows pointing away from your body, out of your peripheral vision. Bend your hips to a 90-degree angle and lift your legs straight up to the ceiling. Now bend your knees so they are also at a 90-degree bend. Your feet should be off the floor.
2. Engage your abdominals and lift your shoulder blades off the floor as you twist your left elbow to your right knee. Your right knee will pull in to meet your left elbow.
3. Stay lifted and twist to the other side and meet your left knee with your right elbow. Your abs are tight throughout the move. Keep twisting by alternating sides until you cannot do it anymore then relax your upper body back to the floor. Hold onto a medicine ball or do cross punches to make the workout harder. If you need an easier workout then switch to a cross-body crunch instead.
Stay with these routines and you will have that beach body just in time for summer. A tight core is always a head-turner, so good luck!