We loved Dave Smith’s guest posts and workouts so much that guess what? We’ve made him a regular contributor! Read on for his first “official” post as a Fit Bottomed Dude, and get ready for a freakin’ fantastic lower abs workout!
There is a big problem with many of the lower abdominal exercises you might be using as part of your core workout routine.
Some of the most common “lower abs” workouts don’t actually target your lower abs at all. They target your hip flexor muscles.
Are You Really Doing a Lower Abs Workout?
The hip flexors are a group of muscles that crosses the front side of your hip joint. When these muscles contract, they cause your thigh to move toward your stomach, closing your hip joint like a hinge. This just so happens to be the exact movement that many people use when they attempt to train their lower abs.
Look at the picture below of a typical leg raise exercise. The arrow points at the hip flexors, which are the main muscles causing your straight legs to lift off the floor as the hip joint shrinks (i.e. the hip is closing like a hinge).
Maybe you’ve done this exact exercise before thinking it would help strengthen your lower abs.
Did you notice your hip muscles were tired or even sore afterward? (Hint: Since it’s your hip flexors doing most of the work they will fatigue long before your lower abs ever will!)
The same is true for any lower abs workout that involves using your hip joint as a hinge as you swing your legs. These types of exercises are simply NOT effective for training your lower abs.
How to Effectively Target Your Lower Abs
The solution for more effective lower abs training is to choose a movement that is created when your lower abs contract. We know that hinging at the hips is controlled by the hip flexors, so what movement will target your lower abs?
It’s all about curling your lower spine.
When your lower abs contract, they pull your tailbone toward your stomach, creating a curl in your lower spine. Look at the picture below to see how a reverse crunch produces this movement.
To effectively target your lower abs, you need to replicate this movement — your tailbone must curl toward your stomach.
Other Exercises You Can Do to Accomplish This?
One is a mountain climber with a twist. Instead of simply hinging at the hips like you might do with a standard mountain climber, rotating your knee to touch your opposite elbow creates a much stronger lower abs contraction.
The image below points out the lower spine curl that is created by adding this twist to your mountain climber:
Another option is a tuck-in. In this move you begin in a straight-arm plank position and jump both feet up toward your hands. Simultaneously you can turn your tailbone down, which creates that same lower spine curl and activates your lower abs.
Building Better Workouts For Lower Abs
So far we’ve learned that swinging your legs is NOT an effective lower abs workout since it recruits your hip flexor muscles to do most of the heavy lifting. Next, we looked at three great exercises that actually target your lower abs muscles.
How can you put those into a quick and effective lower abs workout program? Like this!
Lower Abs Workout
Repeat this circuit 3 times.
- Reverse Crunch Pulses: 10 reps
- Mountain Climber with a Twist: 10 per leg (alternating)
- Tuck-Ins: 10 reps
Watch the video below to see a demonstration of each recommended lower abs exercise and to learn how these three can be used together for a great workout:
Do you feel the difference? Crazy, right?! Knowledge (and the right exercises with the right form) is power! —Dave