If you have lower belly fat or you are just soft in that area, you might be wondering how to target your lower abs and get visible lower abs. In this video, I am going to show you that not only yes, you can preferentially target the lower abdominal muscles, but how to do so in the most effective way possible. With three simple exercises (plus a bonus exercise) and some tips on how to do them, you will be well on your way to sculpting your lower abs.
You might have been told that there is no way to isolate one area of the abs over the other. In other words, you cannot work the lower abs without also working the rest of the abdominal muscles. This is true. However, based on where we initiate the movement from, we can preferentially influence the portion of the abs that we are looking for. To target the upper abs, you would perform top-down movements such as a standard crunch, but if you wanted to hit the lower ab muscles, you would perform bottom-up movements.
The lower abs are subject to another anatomical manipulation and that comes from the position of the pelvis and the low back. To most effectively influence the lower abs, you will want a flat back throughout every ab exercise that you do. To achieve this back position, you are going to need to be in a posterior pelvic tilt. By curling your pelvis in and under, you are also helping to reduce the activation of the hip flexors during these movements.
Next, you are going to want to set your hip angle. Ideally this will be at 90º for both your hips and your knees. However, to make the exercise easier, you will want to bring that angle closer towards your chest and to make it harder, open the angle so that your legs are farther away. Whatever angle you set, make sure to keep that angle throughout the entirety of the exercise.
So what exercises can we do and how do we do them in order to most effectively target your lower abs?
First up, we have swipers. The goal is to get your legs in the air by raising your pelvis completely off the ground and swiping your hands underneath where your butt was. This exercise is great because it has automatic feedback built into the movement. If you successfully curled your pelvis off the ground and towards your chest, you will be able to swipe your hands together no problem. If not, you need to focus on lifting that pelvis.
Next, we have reverse knee tucks, but they should really be called tailbone lifts. Why? Traditionally, most people usually allow their hip flexors to dominate the movement and simply bring their knees towards their abdomen. To really make the lower abs work in this exercise, think about lifting the tailbone off the ground and bringing your knees to about forehead level. This will ensure that you are limiting the amount of work the hip flexors are doing and maximizing the work that the lower abs are performing.
The next ab exercise is a more dynamic and tougher version of the standard plank called the plank knee slide. By incorporating the same principles that were introduced earlier, you will be effectively targeting the lower abs throughout this movement (if performed correctly, of course). Just make sure you are going slow and deliberate with each part of the movement.
A bonus exercise that is probably one of the most effective ab exercises of all time for hitting the lower abs is the hanging leg raise. Instead of simply raising your legs up, I like to give the cue of showing your butt to the person in front of you. This will disengage the hip flexors and allow the abs to take on the brunt of the work. Another reason this exercise is so great is because you are lifting the weight of your legs against the force of gravity.
To intensify each of these exercises, simply engage the adductors. On 3 of the 4 ab exercises I showed you, you can simply cross your legs and squeeze them together. On the plank knee slides, think about isometrically dragging the plant foot inwards.
Furthermore, you can also add rotation to the exercises as well since the fibers of the lower abs run at a slightly oblique angle.
None of this is going to matter if you have too much body fat covering the lower abs themselves. No exercise is going to spot reduce that fat. However, by getting your nutrition in check and being in a hypocaloric state, you will be start burning that fat off while still building and strengthening your lower abs,
If you are looking for a meal plan where everything is laid out for you step-by-step, we have them included with all of our ATHLEAN-X training programs via the link below.
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