Many persons look for ways to work out their lower abs, and there are many webpages claiming to have the best lower ab workout and then again a wide variety of manufacturers of abs machines claiming that you absolutely need one of their models. So, why is there so much interest about this abdominal muscle?
Most people hope that by working out their lower abs, they will get ripped abs and a flat stomach. There is some truth to this, as we will see later, but as we have already mentioned in many posts on this blog, the main reason why you don’t have a flat stomach or a sixpack is this excess fat, so you need to focus on burning belly fat!
In order to take a closer look at the lower ab workout, let’s have a look at the muscles involved in this exercise. As we have seen before, the sixpack-muscle is called rectus abdominis and runs from your pelvis until your rips. It is one large muscle, even though it has several sections.
So, as it is one large muscle, there is no way to “isolate” the lower or upper abdominals, whatever exercise you do, it will always train both areas. But it is true that certain exercises will exercise more one or the other area. Generally speaking, exercises in which you move your torso will exercise more your upper abs whereas a good lower ab workout uses exercises where you move your legs.
Your lower abs also include the transverse abdominis. This muscle is called the “corset muscle” as its main function is to keep the abdominal organs tugged inside. So, when you train this muscle you indeed can obtain a flatter stomach!
But apart from the aesthetic benefit of giving you a flatter stomach, the main function of your lower abdominal muscles is to stabilize the spine and the pelvis and thereby preventing back injury. Many people nowadays suffer from lower back pain and this is often a result of weak lower ab muscles. Their pelvis is not stabilized and thus tilts excessively or moves when they are moving their legs. So, a good lower ab workout has the benefit of increased core strength and stability and a healthy back.
Let’s get to the grain and to your lower ab workout. In order to exercise your lower abs you move your legs while stabilizing the rest of your body. There are many different exercises and you should chose the one that matches best your physical condition and fitness: the most popular exercise is the reverse crunch and as you get better and your abs get stronger you can increase difficulty by changing the position of your legs, do the exercise inclined or even hanging.
Reverse Crunch for lower ab workout
This is a basic exercise for beginners, yet it can be very effective. The main advantage of this exercise is that it puts little strain on your lower back, so sometimes even patients in rehab can do this exercise. Initial position: lie on your back, with your feet off the floor and your knees bent at about 90º.
Exercise: now move your knees, bringing them towards your torso. Ideally you try to lift up your pelvis a little bit in order to get your knees even closer to your rips. Hold for one second and then lower your legs again.
This exercise is even more efficient if you try to tug in your stomach while you do the exercise as this will also train your transverse abdominis (imagine you’re standing in front of a mirror and try to suck in your belly). Double leg lifts This is the same exercise as the reverse crunch, but instead of bending your knees you leave your legs straight. This works more the abs, but it also strains more your lower back so be careful.
Bicycle Maneuver for lower ab workout
Initial position: lie on your back, contract your abdominal muscles, press your lower back down against the exercise mattress and lift your legs. Exercise: while maintaining your abs firm and your back pressed against the floor, move your legs as if you were riding on a bicycle. Do this exercise for thirty repetitions and increase repetitions as you get stronger.
What to keep in mind during your lower ab workout:
Your lower abs serve to stabilize your pelvis and your lower back, so for any lower ab workout you need to ensure that you really stabilize your lower back. All exercises for your lower ab have in common that performed incorrectly you can hurt your back, so you should respect the following points:
- If you have or ever had a back problem, consult your doctor before doing any of these exercises. Done correctly these exercises can strengthen your lower ab and protect your ab. Done incorrectly you can hurt your back.
- You should never ever feel pain in your back while doing any of these exercises. If you feel pain, stop immediately.
- Build up your lower abs gradually. Start with an easy exercise first and don’t increase the difficulty level until you can perform it properly.
- It is crucial to do slow, controlled movements. If you make fast movements your lower abs won’t work as hard as usually we use the momentum to cheat. Also, that way you can easily get into uncontrolled, jerky movements which can cause you back problems.
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