10 best lower abs exercises

The 10 best lower abs exercises for a six-pack

Include these best lower abs exercises when you next train your midsection to sculpt a lean, hard and well-defined six pack, says New Body Plan founder and Men’s Fitness cover model Jon Lipsey

Targeted lower abs exercises should be part of your workouts if you’re serious about building six-pack abs. Some exercises will work your entire midsection, including the best bodyweight abs exercises and the best dumbbell abs moves.

But it is likely that your lower abs will be less developed than your upper abs or side abs. If that’s the case, you’ll need to get laser-focused with some dedicated lower abs exercises. Here’s what you need to know to make maximum progress in minimum time!

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What are the lower abs?

Your lower abs are the bottom portion of the rectus abdominis. That’s the sheet of muscle that makes up the six-pack. Generally speaking, flexing the top of your spine will hit your upper abs. Flexing the lower vertebrae of your spine works your lower abs. 

Do I need to isolate my lower abs?

To maximise the size, strength and definition of any muscle, you need to do a range of different exercises to work as many muscle fibres as possible. That means doing abs exercises that work your core and deep-lying stabilising muscles, as well as some that work your outer abdominal muscles. And you should do some that target different areas of the abs, especially the lower abs. Why? Because this lower part of the muscle group is the hardest to recruit.

When should I do lower abs exercises?

You should do lower abs exercises at the end of your training session. If you work your abs early on in a session they may be fatigued when you do a big lift. If your abs are tired they may not adequately support your spine and that’s when you can get injured. 

How many lower abs exercises should you do? 

There’s no set number that you have to do. There are a couple of ways you can approach it. You could do a dedicated lower abs exercise circuit at the end of your session. In that instance, you might pick three moves. Another option is to do a lower abs exercise, an upper abs exercise and a side abs exercise. 

How often should I do lower abs exercises?

Again, there’s no set frequency. It makes sense to include abdominal training two or three times a week. If you only train your abs once a week you may not see rapid progress. More than three times may eat into the training time you devote to other body parts. 

Will doing lower abs exercises reveal my six-pack?

Doing lower abs exercises will increase the size and strength of your six-pack. But it won’t, on it’s own, reveal your six-pack. That’s because your abs are covered in a layer of body fat. It’s the thickness of this body fat that dictates whether or not you can see your abs. If you want to see your six-pack you’ll need to target your abs and lower your body fat levels. 

How long does it take to get abs?

The 10 best lower abs exercises

1. Reverse crunch

The best lower abs exercise for beginners

The standard crunch works your upper abs while the reverse crunch is a great lower abs exercise. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your hands by your sides for support. Contract your abs to raise your feet off the floor then lower under control and repeat.

2. Bent-knee hip raise

This is similar to a reverse crunch but with a bigger movement. The reverse crunch involves a controlled abs contraction to raise your hips a couple of inches off the floor. This lower abs exercise involves curling your spine as much as possible to raise your hips as high as you can. 

3. Weighted reverse crunch

The best lower abs exercise for extra resistance

When crunches become too easy you can make them harder by adding external load. Start with a light medicine ball and place it between your knees. Perform the move as you would without the weight. Squeezing your knees together will also help to increase the quality of abs contraction.  

4. Lying leg raise

The best lower abs exercise for beginners

Lie flat on the floor with your legs straight and your arms by your sides for balance. Contract your abs to raise your legs until they are vertical. Lower slowly under control and repeat. To get the most out of this lower abs exercise, avoid putting your heels down between reps. 

5. Hanging knee raise

Hang from a bar with your arms straight. Without swinging, contract your abs to bend your knees. Bring them up to at least hip hight but aim to get as high as you can. Lower under control rather than dropping back to the start and repeat. Find out more on why the hanging knee raise is one of the best lower abs moves.

6. Garhammer raise

The most under-rated lower abs exercise

This is a really effective little-known lower abs exercise. Start in the top position of a knee raise with your knees at hip height. From there, contract your abs to bring your knees up as high as possible. Lower them to hip height and repeat the move. It may be too hard for beginners to master but it’s a great one for more experienced exercisers to try. 

7. Hanging leg raise

The best advanced lower abs exercise

Begin in the start position of a hanging knee raise. But instead of bringing your knees up, you contract your abs to raise your legs. Your legs should be straight and come up to hip height. Lower slowly then repeat the move. This is a tough lower abs exercise so you’ll need considerable strength to complete a set. 

8. Flat bench leg pull-in

Lie on your back on a flat bench and hold the edge of the bench behind you for support. Start with your knees bent and your thighs vertical. Begin the rep by straightening your legs. Then bring your knees back in and raise your hips as if you were doing a reverse crunch. Repeat that movement for the duration of the set. 

9. Flat bench lying leg raises

The best lower abs exercise for the greatest range of motion

This is similar to the lying leg raise. The bench allows you to use a full range of motion and start in a stretched position. That’s what makes it such a good lower abs exercise. Lie on your back on a bench with your hands gripping the bench behind your head for support. Start with your legs straight and hanging down slightly off the end of the bench. Contract your abs to raise your legs until they are vertical. Lower under control and keep your legs straight throughout the rep. 

10. Scissor kicks

Lie on your back with your arms by your sides for support. Raise one leg off the floor. As you lower that leg, raise the other leg and move them in alternate directions. Avoid putting your heels on the floor to keep tension on the abs. It’s one of the few lower abs exercises that involves unilateral leg movement. For that reason alone, it’s well worth doing. 

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