People new to strength training may be forgiven, but workouts for lower abs are often overlooked in favour of other abdominal exercises during sessions. Pushing all four of your main abdominal muscles is essential for getting that core perfectly defined, and for conditioning your body to be better suited for more strength workouts as a whole! Most workouts for lower abs will blast the rest of your core as well, as muscles all work in tandem like a well-oiled machine, and conversely, other abdominal exercises will push your lower abs as well. That being said, here’s some of the best exercises for lower abs that will push your core as a whole to the next level!
Myth busting – are workouts for lower abs a thing?
There’s a continuing debate amongst sports scientists, bodybuilders, biologists and really anyone else with an interest in human anatomy, about whether or not targeting specifically the lower abs is practical – or even possible! There are essentially two camps of thought on the matter. The leading theory is that because the lower abs are really just part of a singular muscle – the rectus abdominis, it’s really a fool’s game.
Most people will tell you that targeting specific ‘portions’ of one muscle is just not going to happen, as the whole muscle is contracting equally when stressed. There is a lot of evidence to support this, however some people think that due to the angle of the load during specific workouts for lower abs (or any other muscle you are trying to micro-target), specific muscle fibres can be left with an exaggerated workload, allowing you to achieve more focused definition in one area of a muscle.
This is a common concept put into practise by bodybuilders. Whatever your research may lead you to believe, any workouts for lower abs are also going to target the rest of your core, along with a number of other muscles in your body depending on the exercise, so whether you believe in micro-targeting your lower abs or not, your core is going to get strong and defined either way.
Workouts for lower abs: the perfect exercises to fire up your core
1. Mountain climbers
Mountain climbers are one of our favourites here at the Auro office. They are easy to work into a bodyweight circuit, and with added mobility to get that body moving they can be a really energising addition!
How to perform
- Start in a high plank position with your hands shoulder-width apart.
- Bring one leg up so that your knee touches your elbow. Then repeat on the opposite leg.
- Keep your core engaged and your back in line with the rest of your body. Avoid arching your back or lifting your bum too high.
Different classes will call for different speeds, but control is always essential, as keeping your core engaged and your body steady is paramount if you want to blast those abs.
Variation: Cross-body mountain climbers
A popular variant of the mountain climber is a cross-body mountain climber. It’s essentially the same but your knee is pushed towards your opposite elbow (so right knee to left elbow, and vice versa).
Incorporating mountain climbers at the start of your workouts for lower abs would be perfect. Not only are they one of the best bodyweight exercises for abs but they’re a brilliant warm up exercise too!
2. High knees
Another great warm up and ab starter exercise is high knees. This exercise is really great to include in your workouts for lower abs because it engages your core, whilst working out your legs too.
How to perform
- Keep torso straight and avoid leaning back when performing the high knees exercise.
- Keep your hands around hip-level so you can aim to tap your knee to your hands each time.
- Core engaged throughout the movement.
3. Tuck jumps
Okay, tuck jumps are pretty gruesome. If you do them right, they are brilliant but they are hard! You want to ensure you’re jumping, engaging your core, keeping your gaze ahead and landing softly. They’re a brilliant ab warm up and would do a whole world of good being included into your workouts for lower abs. We definitely recommend to add them in.
How to perform
- Start in a standing position.
- Jump up high, lifting your knees as high as you can. Keep your arms straight our in front of you.
- As you jump, keep your core nice and tight.
- Land softly with a slight bend in your knee.
There are almost as many crunch variations as there are stars in the sky! Any crunch is going to be fantastic for battering those core muscles during a workout. The crunch focuses more on the upper portion of your abs but work as a whole to target your lower abs too. The one crunch we love for lower abs is the ankle reach crunch.
How to perform
- Lay flat on your mat. Raise your legs vertically in the air.
- Keep your core engaged. Reach up with both hands to touch your toes.
- Avoid craning your neck whilst lifting up.
5. Dead bugs
The dead bug is a fantastic, controlled exercise, perfect for building that core, as well as your lateral strength (with the added bonus of reducing lower back pain if it’s something you suffer from). Dead bugs are called dead bugs, well because you look a little bit like an unfortunate bug whilst performing them!
How to perform
- Lay flat on your back on a mat. Extend your arms upwards so they are directly in line with your shoulders.
- At the same time, bring your legs up in line with your hips and bend your knees at a right angle. Sort of like you’re sitting in an imaginary chair that has fallen over.
- Exhale, and with control, lower your left arm behind you whilst extending and lowering your right leg until both are just above the floor.
- Then slowly return to the starting position and repeat with the opposite limbs.
What kind of list would this be without mentioning planks? Plentiful in variety and despised by many exercise newcomers, planks are not only a test of core strength, but also push many other muscles in the body and can really challenge your mental fortitude.
The original plank, or high plank as it’s known, is essentially just holding the starting point of a press up (on your toes not your knees) for as long as required. This can be modified in so many ways, to target different muscle groups, include mobility or to present a greater challenge. Side planks are often talked about when considering workouts for lower abs, but also push the obliques, glutes, quads and hamstrings, which is fantastic bang for your buck!
Whatever your core building workout plan may be, be sure to include some planks.
7. Leg raises
Leg raises are a common sight in core workouts, and a good one to follow up an arm intensive exercise like a plank.
How to perform
- Lie flat on your back, with your legs outstretched and feet together.
- Keep core engaged and lift your legs up from your core until they are at a right angle to your torso. Then lower back down until they hover above the floor.
- Try and perform this exercise with your arms flat by your side and avoid using your hands to help bring your legs up.
- If you’re a beginner, you can hold onto something behind you or place your hands just below your back.
Easy right? Well, if you’re doing it with the correct amount of control and for long enough, this is sure to give you that all important ab burn, and is essential during almost all workouts for lower abs, or really any core session. For an extra challenge, you can try a variation known as a scissor, where each leg alternates being raised and lowered.
The beautiful jackknife. It’s a mighty thrasher for the abs, no wonder it has knife in its name!
How to perform – Jackknife
- Just like your leg raises but this time you’re lifting your arms up simultaneously to meet your hands and feet in the middle together.
- Avoid craning your neck when reaching up with your arms.
How to perform – single-leg jackknife
A great variation of the jackknife is the single-leg jackknife. It’s a killer for your obliques but also works your entire core wonderfully.
- Instead of meeting both arms and legs in the middle, you’re just reaching your left hand to your right leg. And then your right hand to your left leg.
- Again, avoid craning your neck and try to keep your spine nice and straight so you avoid experiencing any pain in your lower back.
- If you have a bench to use, you can also perform this exercise on there. This way you can use one hand to hold on to the bench as you’re reaching your other hand to your leg too.
All of these core workouts can be a fantastic addition if you’re looking for workouts for lower abs, or just strength workouts in general! There’s a lot of great core workouts on our app, so check out the 30 day free trial and see if they can work for you too.
As we’ve already said, workouts for lower abs are an essential part of any core routine – primarily because any of these workouts for lower abs are in reality, blasting your whole core. If you’re striving to get that much sought after, defined six-pack then a combination of the above exercises, along with proper diet and cardio sessions are the perfect schedule to get that new years’ resolution ticked off the list!