What Exercises are Effective for Toning Up The Lower Abs?


question-icon-newWhat are some good exercises for my lower abs? Are there any you can do without a machine? Also, is it possible to widen your abs? Mine are really narrow and I would like them to be wider. Is it just my natural build and genetics or is this something I can change?

answer-icon-newSome of us unfortunately don’t have a choice when it comes to the shape or size of our abdominal muscles. Genetics plays a major part in influencing the shape and size of muscles. However, this is not the only component to having nice toned abs but it’s still a crucial element. We are not all built the same and some of us are blessed with genetics that give us exactly what we want with minimal effort but for the most part we have to work at it. Some of us have narrow or wider abs and some abdominal muscles are staggered with uneven contours. However, looking on the bright side of things, we all have abs regardless of shape or size and they lie hidden underneath the layer of fat that sits above them.

If you are serious about wanting to work on your abdominal muscles, you need to pay attention to some very essential key elements. Your nutrition is the most important and comes down to a clean, fine-tuned diet, paying special care to the types of macro and micronutrients with which you are fueling your body. In fact, nutrition plays 85% of the role in creating more defined abs. Right behind optimal nutrition is your cardiovascular training, which requires a closer look. Both of these key elements are necessary to decrease body fat levels. Regardless of how many abdominal exercises you perform and the variety you implement, abdominal exercises do not give you defined abs without proper nutrition and fat burning cardio workouts.

Many of you have read or been informed that if you implement certain exercises you will see amazing six pack abs in just minutes a day. Or, by using fat burning supplements or expensive workout machines, you can achieve your goals more quickly. Fat burning products and gadgets are a money grab and something you want to avoid for a variety of safety and health reasons, as well as saving your hard-earned money. These gimmicks also advertise to the consumer that you don’t have to do much work to produce the results you are looking for. The reality is, just like everything in life that we are passionate about, it does take work to produce great results. If it was super easy, everyone would have a lean and defined washboard stomach with ripped six pack abs.

good-exercises-lower-abs-rippedYou’re better off gaining the appropriate knowledge and tools for producing the results you want which means following a quality nutrition plan and the right workout routine. Exercising consistently and correctly and being committed to the work, combined with quality nutritional habits will produce more distinct and leaner abs.

If you are looking to have bursting abs, it’s imperative to lower your body fat. You will have to consider dropping your body fat percentage to approximately 6% or lower in order to get these results. This requires dedication to an exceptional, clean diet. Consuming the appropriate amounts of quality proteins; unrefined, unprocessed, superior carbohydrates; and healthy quality fats (especially high-grade fish oils) will maximize your efforts to build your abdominal muscles. Also, remember that all calories are not created equal. If you choose to eat a burger and fries, your body may appear soft and bloated and the abdominal muscles that you are working hard for will be less visible. Instead, opting for meals that include lean, clean proteins, unrefined carbs, phytochemical nutrient dense foods and healthy fats (not fat reducing foods) will get you to your ultimate goal of a lean physique.

The more committed you are to keeping your diet clean and your body well hydrated, the leaner you will become which will get you a chiseled and ripped six pack of abdominals. If commitment is compromised, your abs will be also and you will be compensating with your next workout session instead of progressing forward. The body does not spot reduce fat, so when you combine cardio with optimal nutrition you will lose body fat throughout your entire body, giving you a tighter body composition with toned, defined abs.

Metabolic workouts such as interval and circuit training are a great way to decrease body fat quickly and a highly effective way to see leaner abdominals. Incorporating workouts that include HIIT training (High Intensity Interval Training) at least 2 to 3 days a week will boost your metabolism and burn more body fat. As well, include workouts that focus on weight resistance training that target the entire body and your bigger muscle groups. Your legs, chest and back are highly metabolic regions that continue to burn body fat long after your workouts, which will assist in building a more toned, leaner physique and a stronger core.

You can see that when it comes down to abdominal training for a six pack, it is not just the exercise itself that will produce the best results, but your nutrition and your overall training. However, when selecting lower abdominal exercises, there are a few good ones to master that promise of better results without the use of machines. Bear in mind that both the lower and upper abdominals work and contract simultaneously and you can’t actually separate these muscles. One of the best abdominal exercises would include a torso twist with a crunch using a dumbbell or medicine ball on a Bosu ball. Here is a great home medicine ball ab workout video to checkout!

good-exercises-lower-absOr, you could integrate hanging leg raises performed on a roman chair or from a bar and engage the abdominal muscles by raising your legs up to the torso with a slight twist. Bicycle crunches are also highly effective as this is a combination of working your abs and oblique muscles. Reverse crunches will really target and strengthen your lower abdominals but it needs to be executed properly or the hip flexors will get the brunt of the work leaving them burnt out before your lower abs start feeling the burn. As long as the knees are bent at a 90-degree angle and the legs are not lowered past the point where your shins are parallel to the ground, this helps with leg support so the hip flexors are not feeling too much effort.

The lower abdominal zone can be difficult to reach without a consistent abdominal workout incorporating specific exercises that enhance that lower region. To maximize your gains, make sure you’re performing your abdominal exercises with correct form, posture and technique. Many lower abdominal exercises include workouts that involve leg raises, which if performed improperly can result in lower back or hip pain. Pay attention to technique, breathing and posture while performing any abdominal exercise. This will strengthen your core and back, reducing strain on the spine and improving posture.

Keep in mind that crunches are not the solitary way to a leaner midsection. Change your exercises on a regular basis, as the abdominal muscles are highly adaptive, especially when there is no weight involved. Getting the body to twist and rotate at waist level during your abdominal routines is also valuable in developing and preserving an incredible abdominal region.

It is also sensible to keep your abdominal training for the end of your workouts to prevent injury. Your abs work extremely hard stabilizing your body during bigger muscle group training or when doing lifting exercises (specifically squats, deadlifts and military presses). Completing 2 to 4 sets of abdominal exercises every other day after each workout session helps to prevent injury from occurring. Adequate rest is necessary for abdominal muscle tissue to recover and repair.

Another big benefit to core fitness training is the development of functional fitness which is fundamental to increase your vitality during daily activities. Core and abdominal workouts also improve athletic performance. Abdominal strength provides a huge amount of power for the demands of sports (especially hitting sports). The inner muscle closest to the spine, known as the transverse muscle, stabilizes the spine allowing for powerful movement originating from the center of the body and the transfer of that power to the arms and legs. It is imperative that your abdominal exercises are done with attentiveness, focusing on the muscle being worked on so that the muscles contract properly and produce nicely toned abdominals and a strong core.

Having a solid and toned midsection keeps everything well-balanced. Fine-tuning your diet and fat burning workouts will give you a fantastic physique and the result will be the leaner, stronger torso that you are looking for.

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About Author

Teresa Funk

I am a Certified Fitness Trainer with CFES (Canadian Fitness Education Services), working towards completing a higher level of holistic nutrition. My personal guidance is what brings my clients an optimal level of energy, a healthier desired body composition and a great quantity of fitness and nutritional knowledge.

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