These seven belly-blasting moves stimulate your abs from the bottom up.
The abdominals — also known as the “abs” — form a major muscle group most want to activate during every workout session. Why? Besides the aesthetics of a chiseled, “six-pack” stomach, a strong midsection provides proper body alignment, contributes to better overall balance and helps mitigate lower back pain.
The “lower abs” (the rectus abdominis) stretch across your entire midsection (and provide the sough-after flat-stomach or six-pack appearance). Yet, even when you set out to specifically target the lower portion of your trunk, your whole midsection gets triggered and worked as well. So every ab session is chance to hit all the angles and sculpt definition.
Try these seven lower ab exercises to trim and tone your tummy into a tight middle.
Perform these seven ab-targeting moves in succession with no rest between exercises. When you reach the end of the circuit, rest for 90 seconds, then repeat two more sets of the entire circuit to complete the workout.
1. Bear Crawls
Start on all-fours, then lift your knees a few inches off the floor. Keeping your knees elevated, move your right hand and left foot one step forward. Then move your left hand and right foot one step forward.
Keep walking forward or if you have limited space, step backward with opposite hands and feet. Repeat for 10 reps.
Tip: This move works your entire core, but to really target the deep transverse abdominis (which cinch your waist), make sure you draw your navel in and maintain a neutral spine.
2. Straight Leg Lifts
Lie on your back with your hands underneath your butt or low back, whichever is more comfortable and will keep you from arching your back. Your legs should stay straight and your low back should remain against the floor throughout the entire exercise.
Lift your feet toward the ceiling so your legs are perpendicular to the floor. Lower your feet back down, just a few inches off the floor. Continue to lift and lower for 10 reps.
Tip: Start with your head, neck and shoulders resting on the ground and when you’re ready to kick your ab workout into high gear, raise your shoulders and head off the floor.
Lie on your back, with your feet a few inches off the floor, toes pointed, and your head and shoulder blades lifted off the ground. Place your hands behind your head, elbows wide.
Bring your right knee in toward your chest, as you lift your shoulder blade higher off the ground and toward your knee. Straighten your right leg and lower your left shoulder, as you rotate and bring your left knee inward and your right shoulder up and toward your knee.
Continue switching sides to complete 20 reps total (10 each side).
Tip: Make sure to lift and rotate your shoulders — not just your neck and head — to really fire up your obliques during this exercise. Keep a neutral pelvis, too.
4. Mountain Climbers
Start in a high plank position, body in a straight line from head to toe and hands shoulder-width apart. Bring your right knee in toward your chest. Return it back to the floor and immediately bring your left knee to your chest.
Continue switching legs to complete 10 reps on each side.
Tip: The faster you move (without wrecking your form), the more calories you burn, so get stepping!
5. Dead Bug
Lie on your back. Lift your legs and bend your knees 90 degrees so your shins are parallel to the floor. Lift arms straight above you.
Lower your left arm toward the floor behind you (elbow straight), as you lower your right foot to just above the floor (knee bent). Return to start.
Lower your right arm toward the floor behind you and your left foot to just above the floor. Return to start and continue alternating, so you do 10 reps on each side.
Tip: As for most of the moves on this list, focus on drawing your belly button toward the floor so you maintain a neutral pelvis and keep your low back in contact with the floor. This helps target more muscles.
6. Modified V-Ups
Sit down on the floor, knees bent and feet flat. Lean your upper body backward, so it’s about 45 degrees from the floor. Bring your knees into your chest, shins parallel to the floor and arms straight in front of you.
Extend your legs straight out so your feet reach just a few inches off the floor. Bring your knees back into your chest and repeat for 10 reps.
Tip: Intensify this exercise by keeping your knees straight as you lift your legs and as you lower them, slowly drop your upper body back toward the floor as well. You’ll complete a full V sit-up.
7. Forearm Side Plank
From your side, place your forearm on the ground, elbow in line with shoulder and other hand on your hip. Stagger your feet and lift your hips up so your body is in a straight diagonal line. Hold this position for 30 seconds, then switch sides.
Tip: Planks work the deep inner muscles of your abdominal wall, helping to keep your trunk stable. Want to make your plank even more challenging? Try one of these five variations.