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Best Lower Ab Exercises: 8 Proven Workouts for Toned Core

Tracy Thompson
Published by Tracy Thompson
Last updated: May 19, 2023

For many of my fitness clients trying to lose weight, the lower abs can be difficult to target.

However, with the right exercises and proper technique, many have successfully reduced overall body fat, toned their abs, and increased core strength.

Over the past decade of trial and error, I have found the best lower ab exercises that should be a part of every workout program.

Let’s look.

Quick Summary

  • Exercising the lower abs should include crunches, climbers, and leg raises.
  • Core engagement is essential to working the lower abdominal muscles, including the rectus abdominis, effectively.
  • Building a strong core with lower abdominal exercises will improve overall balance and stability.

Best Exercises for the Lower Abs

A person doing lower abs workouts in the gym

If you want to strengthen your core, concentrate on specific lower ab exercises.

Give the following a try.

Heel Tap Crunch

This exercise is a variation of the classic crunch that effectively targets multiple muscles in the lower and upper abs.

Follow these steps: 

  • Lie flat on your back with your knees bent and each foot flat on the floor.
  • Keep your arms at your sides and raise your head and shoulders to do a crunch.
  • Bend your upper body to the right and tap your right heel with your right hand.
  • Reverse the movement by bending to the left and tapping your left heel with your left hand.
  • Do 10–15 reps of heel taps with each leg.
  • Aim for 3–4 sets.

Related: Can Crunch Effectively Burn Belly Fat

Mountain Climbers

A person doing mountain climber exercises

Mountain climbers are a great exercise that works the entire body, primarily the abdominal muscles, glutes, hamstrings, and calves.

Follow these steps: 

  • Start in a high plank position, placing your hands directly below your shoulders, your legs straight, and your feet hip-width apart.
  • From head to toe, your body should form a straight line.
  • Engage your core.
  • Lift the left foot off the floor and bring your knee toward your chest while keeping the right leg stationary.
  • Quickly switch legs, lifting the right leg to the chest.
  • Maintain the plank position throughout while keeping your core engaged.
  • Repeat the movement for 20 reps with each leg.
  • Rest for 30 seconds between sets if needed.
  • Try for 3–4 sets for optimal results.

Reverse Crunch

Reverse crunches exercise will help strengthen the core muscles, including the abs, lower back, and hip flexors.

Follow these steps: 

  • Lie flat on the floor with your knees bent so your lower leg is parallel to the floor.
  • Place your arms by your sides for support.
  • With your core braced, pull your belly button towards your spine as you curl up and lift your hips off the ground toward your chest.
  • Your thighs are perpendicular to the floor.
  • Slowly roll back down and repeat for 20 reps.
  • Take a 30-second rest between sets if necessary.
  • Aim for 2–3 sets.

“The key is not to engage the arms when doing any core exercises like crunches, but to use the arms only to support the neck and head. Use your core and be mindful of what your arms are doing.”

- Sylvia Ostrowska, Certified Pilates Instructor

Oblique Crunch

A person doing oblique crunch workouts at home

Oblique crunches are a lower ab exercise that also targets and strengthens the oblique muscles in your core and will help provide stability in your lower back and spine.

Follow these steps: 

  • Lie on the floor.
  • Bend your legs and have your feet flat on the floor.
  • Place your hands behind your head.
  •  Keep your elbows wide apart.
  • Avoid tucking your chin or pulling on your neck.
  • Begin by raising your shoulder blades off the floor while contracting your entire core.
  • Bring your right elbow toward the left knee.
  • Slowly lower yourself to the starting position.
  • Repeat on the opposite side by bringing the left elbow to the right knee.
  • You’ve performed one rep.
  • Perform 10–12 reps.

Straight Leg Raise

Front leg raises not only target your upper and lower abs but also strengthen the hips and improve your core stability.

Follow these steps: 

  • Lie on your back with arms extended straight at your sides, palms facing down, and legs straight.
  • Lift one leg a few inches off the floor and hold for a few seconds.
  • Keep the other leg slightly bent and the foot flat on the floor throughout the motion.
  • Slowly lower the lifted leg back to the starting position while maintaining control.
  • Repeat 10–12 times, and then alternate legs.

Medicine Ball Jackknife

A person doing medicine ball jackknife workouts

The medicine ball jackknife is an excellent exercise for working the abdominal area and increasing hip flexibility.

You can use another type of weight you are comfortable with if you don’t have access to a medicine ball.

Follow these steps: 

  • Lie on your back with your legs extended and your arms straight overhead, holding the medicine ball (or other weight).
  • Engage your core muscles and bring your chest toward your knees while slowly lifting the medicine ball above your shoulders.
  • Hold for a few seconds in this position, then slowly return to the starting position, maintaining control over the movement throughout.
  • Repeat 10–12 times for optimal results.

Dead Bug

The dead bug exercise will strengthen your core and hips. It can also improve coordination, balance, and posture.

Follow these steps: 

  • Lie on your back, bending your knees and placing each foot flat on the floor.
  • Position your arms straight up towards the ceiling.
  • Engage your core and press lower back into the floor as you draw one knee toward the chest while straightening the opposite arm overhead.
  • Return arms and legs to the start and repeat on the alternate side.
  • You can perform the desired number of reps for the desired length of time.
  • Keep your lower back against the mat during the movement, and pause at the bottom of each rep.
  • Keep breathing steady as you bring your knees toward your chest and back.
  • Always hold briefly before transitioning to the opposite knee.

Hanging Leg Raises

A person in the gym doing hanging leg raises

The hanging leg raise is incredibly effective at strengthening the core, specifically the rectus abdominis, which runs along the front of your stomach.

Follow these steps: 

  • Hang from a pull-up bar using an overhand grip and arms shoulder-width apart.
  • Engage your core.
  • Keep your legs in the extended position throughout, raising them until they are parallel to the floor or a little higher.
  • Keep your legs straight while maintaining control of the movement.
  • Slowly lower your legs, keeping good form by not swinging or using momentum.
  • Aim for three sets of 12–15 reps.

Training Tips

  • Maintain proper form: Your lower ab muscles can be challenging to engage, so begin with exercises you can execute properly. Focus on maintaining correct posture, engaging the core, and keeping the movement slow and steady.
  • Reverse movements are important: Reverse motions help target the muscles of your abdominal wall more efficiently because they work in both directions.
  • Incorporate planks: Planks are incredibly efficient at burning fat and strengthening your upper body. Aim for proper posture and hold your plank for 1-2 minutes per set, maintaining an active core.
  • Modify the classics: Simple modifications can add variety and effectively target the different ab muscles. Try elevating your legs while doing crunches.

Why It’s Important to Strengthen Your Lower Abs

A person doing strength workouts for lower abs

Your lower abdominals are all part of your core, the central part of your body that needs to be strong for maintaining balance and stability, making everyday activities and exercising easier [1].

Additional benefits include:

  • Improved posture.
  • Reduced injury risk
  • Toned abdominal muscles
  • Low back pain relief
  • Spine stabilization through strengthening the transverse abdominals


How can I prevent neck strain while doing lower ab exercises?

You can prevent neck strain while doing lower ab exercises by using proper form. Initialize the movement with your abdominal muscles, not using or pulling on your neck.

How often should I perform lower ab exercises?

You should perform lower ab exercises two to three times per week to yield the best results. Do your ab workouts on non-consecutive days to allow your muscles to rest.

Are You Going to Exercise Those Lower Abs?

Whether your goal is improved body composition, core stability, or better balance, targeting the lower abs is vital to helping you achieve your goals.

As you work toward strengthening those lower abs, remember to support your efforts with proper nutrition and supplementation, which can maximize your fat-burning potential.

We are continually putting fat burners through our rigorous testing process to find the best ones that target the specific needs of men and women.

Check out the list for a quality, Total Shape-approved fat burner to support your fitness goals.


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