6 Exercises to Strengthen and Tone Lower Abs
We’re willing to bet that despite your best and fittest efforts, your lower abdominal region causes you some frustration. It probably feels like no matter how much core work you do, those lower abs maintain some fluff. Well, there are a few reasons for that.
First of all, you simply can’t spot-treat it. This is true of every area of the body. In order to reduce fat, you need to work your full body with a combination of cardio and muscle-toning strength training. And, of course, supplement that training with a well-rounded, nutritious diet full of carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Second, this area is a tough region for everyone because your body stores most of its excess in the lower ab area. This is especially true for women; estrogen naturally causes our bodies to store excess here. Ugh!
That said, overall core strength is critical for fitness fans. Your core helps you maintain balance, proper form, and posture — all of which contribute to better performance and fewer injuries. So, no, you can’t crunch that squishy tummy away. But you can — and should — add exercises that focus on the lower abdominal muscles into your regular core workouts. Here, Aaptiv trainers share their absolute favorite exercises that specifically target those lower abs.
1. Butterfly Crunches With a Reach — Aaptiv Trainer Benjamin Green: Start on your back with your knees bent, feet on the floor. Your arms should be extended overhead with one hand on top of the other. Open your legs up like a butterfly so that the bottoms of your feet touch. Reach up toward the ceiling, lifting your head, neck, and shoulders off the ground. Slowly roll back down to your starting position. Reach for the same point each time.
Complete 10 reps.
2. Pilates Scissor Kicks — Aaptiv Trainer Rochelle Moncourtois: Start on your back with your legs extended flat on the ground. Lift your head, neck, and shoulders off the floor so they hover above the mat. Lift your right leg off the floor and straighten it toward the ceiling. Your left leg should remain extended, hovering slightly off the mat. Reach with your hands and hold the right calf. Keep your upper body lifted as you switch or scissor your legs and hold the left calf.
To make this move more advanced, hold the position with one leg extended upward and one extended out, but lower your arms, shoulders, neck, and head to the floor. Now, quickly scissor the legs back and forth. Hold your core tight and keep your legs in line with the hips as you kick.
Complete 10 reps with your hands or 20 faster kicks without the hands.
3. Hip Raises or Bridges — Aaptiv Trainer Ceasar F. Barajas: Start on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the ground, and arms at your sides. Engage your core and keep your pelvis tucked in as you lift your hips off the ground. Your body should create a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Control the movement as you lower back to the ground.
Complete 12 reps.
4. Hanging Leg Raises — Aaptiv Trainer Ed Hall: Find a pull-up bar and hang from it palms forward, with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width. Raise your legs in front of you to create a 90-degree angle with your full body. Lower and repeat.
To make the move more advanced, add a pull-up in-between leg raises to work your back and core simultaneously.
Complete 10 reps.
5. Flutter Kicks — Aaptiv Trainer Jessica Muenster: Start on your back with your arms at your side, legs extended straight. Keep your back flat to the ground and engage your core as you lift your legs a few inches off the ground. Repeatedly and quickly flutter, or alternate, your feet up and down just two inches. You can also cross one foot over the other quickly and repeatedly for crossovers.
6. Reverse Crunches — Aaptiv Trainer Ackeem Emmons: Start on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Your arms can be down to your sides. Lift your legs up so your thighs and stomach form a 90-degree angle. Engage your abs and lift your hips off the floor as you crunch your knees toward your chest. Hold for one second at the top of the movement. Control the motion as you return to the starting position.
Complete 10 reps.
(Photos via Getty)