Lower Ab Workouts

The lower abs can be one of the most difficult muscles to develop, making the acquisition of a six-pack seem like an impossible task. Not only do you need minimal body fat, but you also need strong muscles and it takes some very specific exercises and a lot of hard work to bring these specific muscles up to par.

One of the biggest mistakes that amateur lifters make when training for six-pack abs is to stick to a single exercise, often one that focuses more on single parts of their core and doesn’t give them the complete workout they need to get a six- or even an eight-pack. But by bringing some of these upper and lower ab workouts into your weekly split you can ensure these muscles don’t remain underdeveloped for long.

Three Poses and Nine Exercises for a Six-Pack

There are three main poses through which you can perform most abdominal exercises. These poses are designed to limit the tension applied to your lower back and neck, which means there are no sit-ups. It’s the go-to exercise for anyone looking to build those six-pack muscles, but it’s not the most effective and recent research suggests that performing this exercise regularly will lead to back problems in later life.

So, skip the sit-ups and focus on these three poses and nine exercises instead.

Push-Up Pose

Get into the push-up pose with your arms extended, your back straight and your legs together. From here, there are three effective lower ab exercises that you can do.

  • The Plank: Stay in the position you’re in and work on keeping your body straight and your core strong as you hold the pose for as long as possible. For more results, contract your ab muscles, pulling your navel in. It doesn’t sound difficult, but once you lock yourself into this position you’ll realize just how tough it can be.
  • Alternative Plank: Instead of using your palms to keep yourself upright, use your elbows and forearms. This will apply the same tension to your core—especially if you contract those ab muscles—without putting pressure on your wrists or your shoulders.
  • Raises: This time you need to support yourself with your knees and shins and not your forearms. Keep your arms extended and your back straight, but rest your knees on the floor with your shins and feet extended behind them. From here you need to raise your left arm and your right leg at the same time, tightening those core muscles up. Hold that position and then repeat with your right arm and left leg.
  • The Cobra: This is a yoga pose that feels great to perform and is very effective at stretching your core and working your ab and back muscles. Lower yourself to the floor, bending your elbows so they are tucked into your body and keeping your palms pressed against the floor at chest height. From here you just gradually raise your upper body until you feel a strain in your lower back. Don’t go too far and don’t hold the pose for too long.

How Many Times Should I Exercise my Abs?

Your core muscles can recover quicker than the rest of your body, so you don’t need to limit yourself to 1 or 2 training days a week. But at the same time, you don’t want to overdo it by training your abs every day of the week. 3 days a week of moderate to heavy workouts should be enough to sufficiently workout your abs, but you can also reduce the workload and train them up to 5 days a week.

Sit-Up Pose

The sit-up may not be a recommended exercise, but the initial pose it adopts serves as a great foundation for some of the most effective lower and upper ab exercises that you can do. Just lie on your back with your knees bent and your arms by your side.

  • Leg Raises: Lay your legs flat on the ground, pressing your feet together. Steadily raise your legs  until they are vertical and your backside is slightly elevated from the floor and then gradually lower them again. This will put pressure on your lower back and hips if your body is not properly aligned, so take care to move slowly and practice good form. The slower you go when lowering your legs back to the starting position, the more tension you will apply and the more effective this exercise will be.
  • Figure of 8: This one requires you to get into the same position as the leg raises and to perform a similar movement. The difference here is that instead of simply raising and lowering your legs, you raise them to the position of maximum tension (halfway through the range of motion) and then draw a figure of eight in the air with your feet. This will stretch your abs, applying tension across all of your core muscles.
  • Leg Stretch: Lie your legs flat, elevate your body slightly from the shoulders upwards, and then lift your left leg slowly toward your body, grabbing it with your hands when it passes your hips and pressing it into your abdomen. Hold this pose for a few seconds, release and then repeat with the alternate leg, keeping the other leg slightly raised.

How Much Should I Workout my Abs?

How much you train will depend on where your training is right now. If you’ve never trained your abs before then take it easy, performing 2 to 3 planks until failure and adding 2 or 3 of the other sets mentioned. If you’re hurting for days afterwards then reduce the amount you do in future workouts. If not, then you can think about increasing it.

At most you should be spending 20 minutes on these core muscles at a time. Anymore and you may be at risk of overtraining, especially if you’re performing ab workouts more than 3 times a week.

Standing Pose

As the name suggests, this starting pose simply requires you to stand, albeit with one slight variation in the first abdominal exercise.

  • Ab Lifts: This exercise needs to be performed from a hanging position, preferably with your forearms and elbows resting on a soft surface by your side and your legs dangling towards the ground. There are machines for this exercise at the gym, but you can also use pull-up bars by hooking your arms over your head and grabbing the bar. Once you’re in this position you just need to gradually raise your knees toward your chest. For an additional challenge, keep your legs extended as you raise them.
  • Leans: This is more of an oblique exercise than a lower ab exercise, but all ab muscles are important and definition in one area will help to further define other areas. This exercise can be performed by assuming a teapot stance—one arm by your side, the other pressed against your hip. Once in this position, simply lean sideways, gradually extending your lowered arm down your side and holding this position at the point of maximum tension. Repeat on the other side and perform as many reps and sets as you are comfortable with. By adding dumbbells or wrist weights you can add more intensity to this exercise.

How Long Does it Take to get a Six-Pack?

All the ab exercises in the world won’t get you a visible six-pack if your body fat percentage is too high. You need to reduce your calorie intake, add some cardio to your workout and keep training those abs in order for them to show. Genetics also plays a role, but even if you have poor genetics you can still get a visible six-pack by building your ab muscles and reducing your body fat.

If you’re already skinny but you don’t have the muscle definition, it’ll take just a couple months before you see some noticeable differences—providing you’re eating a diet high in protein and giving those ab muscles all the fuel they need to grow.

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