There is an infinite number of ways to strengthen your core and get more defined abs. But there’s one area in particular that tends to be stubborn for people: the lower abs. If you’re doing hundreds of crunches every day and not seeing results, stop right now! Try these 10 lower ab exercises and see if you notice the difference. (Spoiler alert: You will.)
10 Lower Ab Exercises for Better Strength and Definition
1. Reverse Crunches
This is one of the go-to lower ab exercises and an absolute must if you’ve been relying on traditional crunches (which don’t do a whole heck of a lot, by the way). Take your time with this. Athletes will sometimes try to “cheat” by racing through it and flailing their body around. No good.
Remember that the goal is to stay on-tension the entire time. When your feet reach the floor, don’t let go completely. They should never “slam” down on the ground.
2. Pilates 100
We tend to think that in order for a movement to be effective, it needs to be big and exaggerated and use a lot of weight. Not the case, especially when we’re talking about lower ab exercises. Case in point: the Pilates 100.
What’s cool is that there are a number of variations. You can have your legs straight; the higher they are, the more difficult the exercise. Or you can keep them slightly bent. Or you can keep your feet firmly planted on the floor.
What matters most is that you drive your belly button into the floor so that your entire back always stays in contact with the ground. Ask a friend to check for a gap between your lower back and the floor. If they see this, then your core isn’t engaged!
3. Leg Lifts
This is a simple one but man, it’s brutal. Because it requires so much control and stability, there’s not much wiggle room for error – which means that your lower abs are going to be on fire.
It’s a good time to remind you that you should never sacrifice technique and quality for speed and reps. If you can only do three of these flawlessly before collapsing, so be it. One step at a time — you’ll build yourself up.
4. High Knees
You might be thinking, “What are high knees doing in here?! That’s a cardio thing.” It might be, but here’s what you might not realize: In order to hike your knees up so they’re level with your hips (which is the goal of high knees), you must rely on not just your legs and hips, but your abs — quite tremendously. In fact, without your abs, high knees just aren’t possible.
You’re already using your lower abs and not realizing it, but take it a step further and actively engage your core while you do high knees.
5. Mountain Climbers
This might be another “cardio” type of exercise that you typically do for reps/speed, but in this case, slow it down. To use mountain climbers as a lower ab exercise, they need to be slow and controlled. The benefit here is twofold: You engage your lower abs to help you maintain that plank position, and you need them in order to bring your knees forward. Win!
6. Mountain Climbers With a Twist
This is very similar to the previous lower ab exercise, but we’re adding a little twist — literally. By slightly twisting your core, you’re better engaging those muscles along the side of your torso.
When you draw one knee forward, as opposed to bringing it toward the same arm (meaning left knee to left arm), bring it to the opposite arm — left knee to right arm, and vice versa.
It’s a minor adjustment, but your lower abs will know about it.
7. Straight-Leg Roll-Up
Hello, muscle soreness. Is that you? You asked for lower ab exercises, and we’re giving ’em to you. The straight-leg roll-up is exactly what it sounds like. Keeping your legs straight and on the ground, lie back flat. Slowly roll your upper body up and off the ground. Think of peeling yourself off the floor. Once you reach the top, simply reverse the movement and “unpeel” yourself back down.
8. Half Burpee
Everyone runs when they heard the word “burpee,” but stick around for a minute, because this variation is a powerful lower ab exercise. You actually cut the movement short, and your hands never leave the ground.
It’s a similar idea to high knees and mountain climbers. In order to drive your legs forward, you absolutely must engage your lower abs. Some people will take this exercise a step further and end in the bottom of their squat position, with their hands off the ground, before putting them back on the ground and jumping back out into a plank.
9. Dead Bug
The name might not be all that appealing, but your lower abs won’t care. One of the reasons the dead bug works so well is because it requires you to lift both your arms and legs off the floor.
Also, as a side note, this is an excellent exercise to do if you’re experiencing lower back pain.
10. Flutter Kicks
We hate to sound like a broken record, but want to give you a gentle reminder to keep driving that belly button and lower back into the floor. Not only will this make flutter kicks more effective, but it will help you avoid any soreness in your lower back from that lack of tension in your core.
By paying a little extra attention to your lower abs, you’ll notice that they’re stronger and more defined in no time. Which one of these lower ab exercises will you try first? Let us know in the comments section below.