If there’s one area where people want to look toned, it is having a flatter stomach —more specifically, the lower abdominals area.
But sometimes, it feels like no matter how many workouts we do for the lower body, that stubborn lower belly fat never seems to budge.
Here is why: getting six-pack abs isn’t as easy as performing tons of sit-ups.
If you have excess belly fat, your lower abdomen muscles won’t show no matter how many stomach exercises you do.
Your stomach region is tough to flatten because your abdomen is the very place your body stores most of its excess fat.
But never fear! You don’t need a tummy tuck. The best way to lose the excess belly fat covering your abs muscles is to combine a healthy diet with exercise.
You’ll want a daily workout that is a blend of cardio to raise your heart rate, abdominal exercises to build your six-pack muscle, and metabolism-boosting strength training.
A healthy diet will help you lose weight and keep it off, which is good for your entire body and long-term wellness.
Plus, belly fat in your abdominal cavity that surrounds your organs (also known as visceral fat) is particularly dangerous.
It is linked to heart disease, stroke, and some kinds of cancers.
So, even if you aren’t looking for a flat stomach, your health is a good reason to reduce the weight in your lower abdomen.
Cardio is a great way to burn calories, increase stamina, and build endurance.
Various exercises like brisk walking, running, swimming, or getting out on a bicycle are great exercises that will get you outside and your heart rate up.
If you would prefer to workout at home, a high-intensity interval workout of calisthenics like burpees, jump lunges, and jumping rope will do the trick.
For strength training, the good news is there is a whole library of articles on Fitwirr that you can do at home with just a dumbbell or kettlebell.
Resistance training builds lean muscle, which helps your metabolism, but if you are new to lifting weights, a certified strength trainer can help get you started and make sure you have proper form.
Then add the best ab exercises below to your routine, and you will have everything you need to show off those lower ab muscles! Plus, building this muscle group will increase your core strength, which will also improve your posture.
A strong core can help with poor posture and low back pain.
None of the following core exercises require anything more than a yoga mat or a towel to lay on. However, we will also include some strength training variations as well.
Need Even More Stomach Exercises? Read These Articles Next:
- Best Ab Workouts For Men
- Best Ab Workouts for Women
- 18 Best Exercises to Lose Belly Fat
- 30 Best Stability Ball Exercises for Beginners
What Are Your Lower Abdominal Muscles Anyway?
Your abdominal cavity is made up of three big muscle sheets on the sides and front of your body.
They are the external oblique, internal oblique, and transverse abdominis. They are supplemented in the front and each side by the rectus abdominis.
There aren’t actually lower and upper abs. Your upper abdomen and lower are all the same set of muscles.
But trainers separate them for educational purposes. If you think about the muscles in your lower or upper abdomen, you will have a better idea of where to focus your attention when you workout.
How Do You Engage Your Lower Abdominal Muscles?
While you perform the following stomach exercises, you will want to engage your core and lower ab muscles.
To do this, think about bringing your navel to your spine and locking it in. Or another cue personal trainers use is brace as if you were going to be punched in the stomach.
On each exercise, keep the lower part of your torso engaged through the entire movement. This will help you reduce the risk of injury and focus on the correct muscle group.
What Is the Best Exercise for Lower Abdominal Muscles?
Some exercises hit the upper abdomen but not the lower. (And if you are looking for an upper abs workout, there are some great ones on Fitwirr. But in this article, we will concentrate on effective ab exercises for your low belly area.
The best exercise should strengthen your abdominal muscles – that’s obvious. But it also needs to activate your lower torso, including hip flexors, hamstrings, and glutes. While we all wish to have one perfect exercise that does it all, the truth is, it takes several.
But here is a trainer’s tip: there is a great way to get the most out of your ab routine – add compound exercises. Some exercises, like a bicep curl, just hit a single muscle – your biceps.
But compound exercises target different muscle groups all at once. For example, a squat works your core, glutes, quads, and calves.
Compound exercises mean that you are also working your hip flexors, legs, obliques, and glutes when you are building strong abs.
Engaging all the adjacent muscles on your torso leads to higher activation of the low abdominal muscles and more fat burn. By pairing a few lower abs focused multi-muscle workouts, you maximize strength building and fat burning around your lower belly.
The first exercise on our list is an excellent exercise for your lower abs. By crunching from the lower abs, you hit the bottom region of your stomach muscles.
6 Best Exercises for Your Lower Abs
Perform each of these lower ab exercises for the prescribed number of repetitions and sets. Rest 10 seconds in between before moving to the next. Complete the entire circuit one to three times.
1. Reverse Crunch
This workout is a core strengthening exercise you can do laying on a mat or a towel. By bringing up your legs instead of your upper torso, you can target the muscles below your belly button.
This effective move is performed in the boat pose, otherwise known as a hollow hold. When you hold and compress your midsection, you will also engage your transverse abdominis, a muscle deep in your abdomen.
It’s an exercise that’s underrated and underutilized but comes with massive benefits.
How to Do It:
- Lie faceup on your mat. Bend your knees and keep your feet flat. Place your arms next to your body with your hands by your hips.
- With your knees bent at a 90-degree angle, lift your feet off the floor to the point where your legs and feet are parallel to the floor.
- Once in that position, tighten your core and curl your low back, lifting your tailbone and butt off the ground. Your shoulder blades should remain in contact with the floor. Don’t be tempted to use momentum; instead, engage your stomach muscles to complete the movement. When you raise your legs, imagine reaching to the ceiling with your toes.
- At the top, pause for a second, feeling the stretch, then slowly lower your legs. Bring your feet back to your original position and repeat. Repeat to complete 12-15 reps.
Trainer Tip: For this workout to be effective, you need to complete it at a slow pace. This is core work, not cardio.
Variation: If you would like to add weight to this exercise, you can hold a medicine ball between your knees. Hold it there as you lift hips and lower back into position. Another way to add to the challenge is to hold a Swiss or exercise ball between your ankles as you lift.
2. Cross Body Climber
This next exercise engages your abdominal muscles and helps you build a strong core. Because it’s a fast-tempo, high-intensity move, you get to burn far more calories than other resistance exercises.
It’s also a great exercise for building stability and balance.
Compared to standard mountain climbers, the cross-body climber adds a twist, which increases your core engagement.
By reaching over to the other side with your knee on each rep, you intensely target your obliques.
Want to reduce your love handles or that bulge around the top of your pants? Add this cross version of the mountain climber. It goes beyond hitting the rectus abdominis and targets your side abs.
How to Do It:
- Your starting position is a high plank position with your arms completely straight and hands shoulder-width apart. Your palms will be on your yoga mat about shoulder-width apart. Keep your legs extended fully with your feet hip-width apart. Form a straight line from your shoulders to the ankles. Don’t drop your spine or let your hips sag.
- Tighten your core and lift your right foot off the floor. Bring your right knee toward your chest and left shoulder while maintaining your balance on your left leg, then lower your leg back. Make sure to keep a neutral spine as your legs lift; don’t let your back arch or sag.
- Now switch legs and repeat on the other side. Continue alternating for 12-15 reps per side. Keep your body straight and your hips low at all times.
Do a few reps slowly at first. As you master the move, pick up your speed. Once you complete 12-15 reps on each side, rest, and do 1-2 more sets.
Cross Body Climbers can be quite a challenge. In just a minute or so, you’ll start to feel it in your thighs, lower abs, and even your glutes.
Trainer tip: If you suffer from a wrist or low back pain while doing mountain climbers, the dead bug is a great option instead. To do a deadbug, lay on your back with your arms and legs in the air.
Your knees should be bent at a 45-degree angle, so your shins face the ceiling. (Think of the yoga tabletop position, but you are laying on your back.)
Exhale and lower your right hand and your left leg at the same time. Pause, then inhale and slowly return to the starting position. Now switch sides and lower your left hand and right leg.
3. Scissors Crunch
The scissor crunch is a dynamic exercise that strengthens your back and targets your lower abs and core.
The primary target muscle is the rectus abdominis, but it is also an excellent workout for your abdominals’ low parts. Plus, this next exercise targets your external obliques and leg muscles.
How To Do It:
- Lie on your back on your mat with your feet together. Keep your legs straight and fully extended. Instead of placing your hands behind your head, put them on your sides for more support. Don’t curve your low back. Instead, crunch your ribs so you can keep your low back on the floor.
- While keeping your legs extended, lift one leg towards the ceiling. Keeping your leg in the air, lift your right foot slightly of the floor.
- Keep your core tight and slightly lift your upper torso off the floor as you perform a crunch. Now you should have one leg in the air and the other slightly off the floor. This is your starting position.
- Start moving your legs by lowering one leg and bringing up the other leg. Each time your lower your leg, that is one rep. Alternate your right leg and left legs for 12 to 14 repetitions. Do 2-3 sets total.
Be sure to keep your back flat and hands on the floor for support. If you have a hard surface, use a yoga mat for cushion and more comfort.
Many of the abs exercises on this list are dynamic and anaerobic -driven, but no abs workout is more vigorous than this elbow-to-knee reverse crunch.
4. Bicycle Crunch
The bicycle crunch is a core strengthening move that really hits the bottom two abs. With the twist motions, you also engage your external obliques and the rest of your trunk.
It’s similar to the cross body climber in that you bring your knee across your body, except you are on your back as in other crunch exercises.
How to Do It:
- Lie flat on your back on your mat. Bend your knees with your feet on the floor. Interlace your fingertips to support your head with hands. Engage your core muscles as you lift both your shoulders and legs off the floor.
- In one motion, bring your knee on your left toward your right elbow. Rotate your body so that your right elbow can meet your knee and touch it, hold and pause for a second.
- Slowly bring your knee and elbow down. That is one rep. Repeat the same motion on the opposite side, bringing your left elbow to your right knee. Complete 12-15 reps per side. Do four to five sets in total.
As you criss-cross your right and left knee and left and right arm, be sure to engage your trunk for the rotational moves. You will feel this one in your upper body in no time!
The plank is an isometric exercise that can double as a lower abs workout. This core conditioning exercise challenges all of your abs, including the bottom two, where your stomach pouch sits.
Contrary to the other moves listed here, this exercise works your midsection while you hold a static position.
It’s a workout where your core must be engaged throughout the movement to keep your posture straight for a set time.
Because you are bracing your core, they are also safer for those with back pain. This exercise puts less pressure on your back and prevents you from straining muscles.
How to Do It:
- Start by lying facedown on your mat with your forearms on the floor. Keep your elbows shoulder-width apart and position each foot about hip-width apart. Keep your legs fully extended. Take a second to practice some deep breathing before you start. Once you begin, you’ll be in the plank position for up to one minute, and it is easy to hold your breath. You don’t want to do that. Breathe as naturally as you can.
- As you raise your pelvis, brace your abs, core, and glutes. In the plank position, you should feel tension throughout your core. Your body should be a level line from your heels to your shoulders. Try not to drop your lower back or allow your hips to sag. Keep your gaze neutral so you don’t strain your neck.
- Hold your plank position for as long as you can. Set a timer and aim 30 to 60 seconds per set.
Once you can no longer hold your back straight or your hips start to sag, slowly return and rest.
Variation: If you are having a hard time keeping your body stable in the forearm plank position, try a bear plank.
In a bear crawl, you start on your hands and knees, then lift your knees, so your weight is supported by your hands and toes. As you move your left arm forward, you move your right leg and switch sides as you move.
In a bear plank, you also start on all fours (the tabletop position) and lift your knees off the ground. But in the bear plank, you hold that position.
Variations to dial up the challenge:
Side planks are also wonderful for hitting your obliques and hip flexors. These will help you to work your entire core.
In a side plank, your weight will be on your forearm and the side of your foot with the opposite arm laying on the side of your body.
High to Low Plank – Start in your forearm plank position. Then put the palm of your right hand down and push up, extending your arm straight from your right shoulder, followed by your left arm. Then lower back to your left forearm and then your right forearm.
High Plank with a Row – This move will also strengthen the muscles along your spine, the erector spinae, along with increasing core strength in your lower and upper abdomen. For this variation, you will need a pair of dumbbells or kettlebells.
From the high plank position, keeping your elbows close to your body, row the right side weight to your ribs while supporting yourself with the opposite hand. Repeat on the opposite side, bring the weight to your left side.
6. Straight Leg Raise
A straight leg raise is one of the most intense exercises for your abs in this list. This exercise works your entire core and the bottom part of your abs.
A straight leg raise is similar to a pike but performed laying face up rather than facing down.
How to Do It:
- Position yourself on your back with your spine and tailbone pressing against the mat. Extend your legs and place your hands underneath your back, just above your hips.
- Tighten your core and squeeze your glutes. In one motion, lift both of your legs off the ground and bring them up 90 degrees so that your feet face the ceiling. Keep a slight bend in your knees as you raise your legs.
- Hold at the top for a second, then return your legs back to the starting position slowly and repeat. Each time you return to the start position that is one rep. Repeat for 10-12 reps and complete 2-3 sets, your abs will be on fire!
If you suffer from lower back pain, don’t do this move as it can put a lot of pressure on your back. You can replace this with the deadbug exercise (explained above.)
Or, if you don’t have joint pain and want to increase the challenge next time, you can put a lightweight medicine ball between your ankles and hold it there as you lift.
The Final Word on Abs
In your weekly exercise regimen include cardio, strength training, and these six exercises for your lower abs. For cardio, add in running, jumping rope, or a HIIT of burpees. For strength training, add in squats, deadlifts, and rows.
You will see improvements in your upper abdomen, lower abs, core strength, and overall fitness before long. The amount of muscle definition of your lower abs, however, will depend on your body fat percentage.
The faster you bring down your body fat percentage, the quicker you will start to see those abs. But you don’t need lipo or a tummy tuck. Instead, practice healthy eating and focus on your nutrition.
A healthy diet void of refined carbohydrates and sugary drinks will give you results in reducing your belly fat and your waist size.
As a benefit, fat loss around your midsection areas is good for your overall health. Plus, additional core strength will also help improve posture and lower back pain.
Beginners or anyone with a medical issue should talk to their healthcare professional or get medical consultations before starting any new exercise program. Good luck!