The benchmark of a great physique is generally measured on a few aesthetic qualities, some being arms and probably the most prominent, the abs. Even people who don’t know a dumbbell from a doorbell have likely done sit ups or crunches to attempt to redefine their mid-section. Lower ab exercises do more than just give you a better body, they help you do other things you may not even consider! They also help you have proper posture and they help you to control important organs, such as your bladder.
The North/South Divide
You may not be aware that the Rectus abdominis muscle is actually two parallel paired muscles separated by a band of connective tissue. Since the muscle covers such a large area it can in essence be divided into an upper and lower area. Many actions like bending or even sit ups can work the upper ab area, however the lower ab area tends to be neglected.
Let’s look at four lower ab exercises you can add to your routine.
Lower Ab Exercises
HANGING LEG RAISE
This is one of the best lower ab exercises you can find. You can do this in a hanging leg raise machine or Captain’s Chair, this is the stationary tower that usually also features handles to do dips and pull ups. Other options are sling type device that you attach to a power rack or pull up bar, or just hanging on to a bar itself.
To properly do this exercise you need to elevate your thighs past a 90 degree angle or parallel with the floor.
- Start in the hanging position with your legs hanging straight down as if you were standing.
- Contract your abs to bring your legs up as high as you can go with the goal of your feet pointing to the ceiling. The more the lower spine bends upward, the greater resistance on the lower ab area.
- Lower your legs to the start position in a controlled decent.
See the Hanging Leg Raises here
Another great lower ab exercise, the reverse crunch is often forgotten in many ab workouts.
The lower ab reverse crunch can be done on the floor or an incline bench.
- Lie on the floor, legs fully extended. Your arms should remain on the floor for stability unlike a traditional crunch.
- Raise your thighs so your bent leg forms a 90 degree angle.
- Raise your legs into your chest and roll your hips off the floor. Hold this position for a count of one then lower back to start.
See the Reverse Crunch here
LYING LEG RAISE
A favorite of military PT sessions, this is another great lower ab exercise.
The lying leg raise lower ab exercise can be done on a bench or the floor.
- Lie on your back with your legs extended.
- Place your palms down on the floor or holding the sides of the bench.
- Keeping your legs straight as possible raise them as far as you can towards a 90 degree angle with your feet pointing to the ceiling.
- Hold this position for a second then slowly lower. A slower decent will place greater stress on the lower ab area.
- To make this exercise more difficult stop half way at the decent and hold this position for as long as possible.
See the Lying Leg Raise here
An alternate version where you place your hands under your glutes can be seen here
The barbell roll out is not only a highly effective lower ab exercise, it is great for the entire core and lower back. Alternatively, it can be done with an ab wheel.
- Kneel on the floor over a loaded barbell. The weight plates will act as wheels so it is advised to used round plates (some plates are octagonally round)
- Grasp the bar with an overhand grip as if in the top of a push up position. Your shoulders should be directly over the bar.
- Keeping your knees stationary on the floor slowly roll the bar forward fully extending your arms.
- Slowly return to start while keeping the abs contracted.
*The knees should never move from their position. Do not sag your hips.
See the barbell rollout here. Also check out the bottom of the page for alternates.
Lower ab exercises are an easy thing to add to your routine and they take less then 10 minutes! Remember abs are an endurance muscle. This means you have the ability to do them daily. However, after this routine you could be a little sore, so feel free to do them every other day.
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