Your core is made up of nearly a dozen different muscles, but there’s one in particular that gets a reputation for being the hardest to strengthen: your lower abs. While leg lifts and scissor kicks can help you hit them, we’ve got an entirely other set of easy lower ab workouts that will target them without you even realizing it.
When you’re working other parts of your body, like your glutes or shoulders, you can engage your lower abs to use the moves to hit them, too. According to Fithouse trainer Lauren Muraski, there are two ways to engage that part of your core. First up? Bracing. “Bracing refers to an isometric contraction by holding the muscles tight without movement. The goal is to tighten the muscles without sucking in, or expanding your abdomen,” she says.
Then, there’s contracting, which helps you to compress your abdomen to feel as if you were wearing a corset. “Try to contract your abdomen and pull your belly button back toward your spine.” Below, Muraski shares three moves to help you practice engaging your lower abs while you work other parts of your body.
1. Glute bridge and single leg glute bridge
This move might make you think you’re only working your glutes, but it also makes an easy lower abs workout that hits your back, too. “Start flat on your back with your arms at your sides and knees bent. Place your feet flat on the floor, about hip-width apart and just a few inches from your butt,” says Muraski. “Push through your heels, squeeze your glutes and abs, and raise your hips to the sky until you create a diagonal line from your shoulders to your knees. Hold at the top before lowering back down.” To amp up the move, lift one leg at a time at the top, and challenge yourself to an isometric hold on one foot.
2. Glider pike-ups and knee tucks
Pike ups will leave your arms, shoulders, chest, and back burning while also getting at the bottom of your core. Grab a set of gliders (or a towel, or some slippery socks), and place them under your feet. Start in a high plank position and pull your feet toward your hands, lifting your hips towards the sky into a pike position by pulling your bellybutton in to feel a deep connection in your abdominals. Then, slowly push your feet out into the plank starting position. You can do the same thing with knee tucks, bending your knees into your chest from your plank while keeping shoulders stacked over wrists and your hips in line with your shoulders.
3. Mountain climbers
In addition to spiking your heart rate, properly engaging your abs during mountain climbers will hit them in all those hard to reach places. Starting in a high plank position with your core engaged and your shoulders over your wrist, pull one knee at a time into your chest. Moving quickly will burst your heart rate, but going slow and keeping your form will ensure you’re engaging those lower abs with every rep.
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