post Best Lower Ab Exercises: 8 Proven Workouts for Toned Core

Best Lower Ab Exercises: 8 Proven Workouts for Toned Core

Christiana Mikesch, CPT
Published by Christiana Mikesch, CPT | Senior Coach
Last updated: January 8, 2024
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Throughout my years as a fitness coach, numerous clients sought my guidance on weight loss and toning their lower abs.

Knowing that targeting the core can be challenging, I conducted a week of research with other experts to identify exercises and proper techniques for reducing body fat and enhancing core strength.

This article compiles the best lower ab exercises we discovered, which should be incorporated into every workout program.

Quick Summary

  • The best exercises for the lower abs are heel tap crunches, mountain climbers, reverse crunch hangings, and leg raises.
  • Building a strong core with lower abdominal exercises will improve overall balance, steadiness, and stability.
  • According to the National Institute of Health, the front plank with close shoulder blades and tilting the pelvis back is a highly effective core stability exercise that primarily activates the internal obliques.
  • As a fitness trainer, I've found that attaining core engagement can be a challenging journey demanding time and dedication, yet incorporating fat burners into the process has proven beneficial for both men and women.

Best Exercises for the Lower Abs

A person doing lower abs workouts in the gym

To boost your core strength, prioritize targeted lower abdominal exercises. Here are 8 lower ab exercises for achieving a toned core.

1. Heel Tap Crunch

In my training experience with clients, I've found that this exercise, a variation of the classic crunch, proves to be effective in targeting multiple muscles in the lower and upper abs.

Follow these steps:

  1. Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat.
  2. Raise your head and shoulders
  3. Do a crunch and tap your right heel with your right hand.
  4. Reverse by tapping the left heel with the left hand.
  5. Complete 10–15 reps per leg.
  6. Aim for 3–4 sets.

Related: Can Crunch Effectively Burn Belly Fat

2. 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:

  1. Begin in a high plank position.
  2. Place hands below shoulders, legs straight, and feet hip-width apart.
  3. Ensure your body forms a straight line from head to toe.
  4. Engage your core.
  5. Lift the left foot, bringing the knee toward your chest, keeping the right leg stationary.
  6. Quickly switch legs, lifting the right leg to the chest.
  7. Maintain the plank position and engaged core.
  8. Repeat for 20 reps with each leg.
  9. Rest for 30 seconds between sets if needed.
  10. Aim for 3–4 sets for optimal results.

3. Reverse Crunch

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

Follow these steps:

  1. Lie flat on the floor with knees bent, lower legs parallel to the floor.
  2. Place arms by your sides for support.
  3. Brace your core and pull your belly button toward your spine.
  4. Lift your hips off the ground toward your chest.
  5. Ensure your thighs are perpendicular to the floor.
  6. Slowly roll back down and repeat for 20 reps.
  7. Rest for 30 seconds between sets if necessary.
  8. 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

4. 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:

  1. Lie on the floor with legs bent, feet flat.
  2. Place hands behind your head, keeping elbows wide.
  3. Avoid tucking chin or pulling on your neck.
  4. Raise shoulder blades off the floor, contracting your entire core.
  5. Bring right elbow toward left knee.
  6. Slowly lower to the starting position.
  7. Repeat on the opposite side, bringing left elbow to the right knee.
  8. One rep completed.
  9. Perform 10–12 reps.

5. 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:

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

6. Medicine Ball Jackknife

A person doing medicine ball jackknife workouts

The medicine ball jackknife is an excellent exercise for targeting the abdominal muscles and improving hip flexibility.

Follow these steps:

  1. Lie on your back, legs extended, and arms straight with the weight.
  2. Engage your core and bring your chest towards your knees.
  3. Lift the weight above your shoulders.
  4. Hold for a few seconds, then slowly return to the starting position with control.
  5. Repeat 10–12 times for optimal results.

In my work as a fitness trainer, I frequently advise clients to feel free to use any comfortable weight as an alternative if they don't have a medicine ball.

7. Dead Bug

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

Follow these steps:

  1. Lie on your back, knees bent, feet flat on the floor.
  2. Extend your arms straight up.
  3. Engage your core and press lower back into the floor.
  4. Draw one knee toward the chest while straightening the opposite arm overhead.
  5. Return to the starting position and repeat on the other side.
  6. Perform the desired number of reps or time.
  7. Keep your lower back against the mat, pause at the bottom of each rep.
  8. Maintain steady breathing as you move your knees toward your chest.
  9. Briefly hold before transitioning to the opposite knee.

8. 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:

  1. Hang from a pull-up bar with an overhand grip, arms shoulder-width apart.
  2. Engage your core.
  3. Keep your legs extended, raising them to parallel or slightly higher.
  4. Maintain straight legs and control throughout the movement.
  5. Slowly lower your legs without swinging or using momentum.
  6. Aim for three sets of 12–15 reps.

Training Tips

Training the core is crucial for overall stability, balance, and functional strength in daily activities and exercise.

Here are essential tips for proper training:

  • Maintain proper form: Focus on correct posture, engage the core, and perform exercises slowly for effective engagement of lower ab muscles.
  • Incorporate reverse movements: Target abdominal muscles efficiently by including reverse motions that work in both directions.
  • Use planks: Planks are efficient for burning fat and strengthening the upper body. Aim for 1-2 minutes per set with proper posture and an active core.

As a fitness trainer, I encourage clients to modify classic exercises for added variety, like elevating their legs during crunches for a different challenge.

Also read: Best Hanging Ab Exercises for a Strong Core

Why It’s Important to Strengthen Your Lower Abs

A person doing strength workouts for lower abs

According to Mayo Clinic, your lower abdominals are integral to your core, the central part of your body crucial for maintaining balance and stability, thus facilitating daily activities and exercise [1].

Additional benefits include improved posture, reduced risk of injury, toned abdominal muscles, and relief from low back pain.

Another benefit that I've observed as a fitness trainer over the years is the stabilization of the spine achieved by strengthening the transverse abdominals.

FAQs

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.


References:

  1. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/core-exercises/art-20044751
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