Lower Ab Exercises - The Quick and Dirty
What Order Should I Do Ab Exercises In?
As a rule do the lower abs before upper abs - Why? A lot of people don't realize that most ab exercises will incorporate the upper abs but not the lower abs. However, even the more specific lower ab exercises will incorporate some effort from the upper abs. If you are just exercising away and your upper abs are already exhausted the lower abs won't get anywhere near the workout they should (and that is why people complain that their lower abs are developing slowly). Do your lower abs first, tire them out and then finish off your upper abs with the exercises of your choice.
PS as a side note, any ab exercises that involve twisting will incorporate your upper abs.
How Should I structure My Ab workout?
1. You want to be doing reps in the 15 - 30 range. Abs are endurance muscles work them like they are. If you are struggling at on that exercises to get 15 stay with it until you can before moving to a more difficult exercise. You don't get to the bar and put 300 pounds on each end, don't do it with your abs either.
2. Do your lower ab exercisesfirst ... then workout your upper abs.
3. Following on from point 1. You want to be able to do 15 - 30 reps. AND you want to be able to do at least 2 sets of 15 - 30 reps. Work up to the more intense exercise. That said when you are starting out you will think anything is intense. Stick with it the results are worth it.
4. As they are endurance muscles, when doing a set keep going until you can't do any more. Rest for a short amount of time (15 secs or so) and then get straight on to the next set.
5. Do you upper and lower ab exercises slowly, with focus and concentration - 1 to 2 secs for each the up and down part of the exercise. Don't go swinging your body around. Firstly you could injure yourself, and secondly you will workout other muscles and not necessarily your abs.
What Lower Ab Exercises Should I do?
Even though we're talking about lower abs, in truth they aren't a distinct separate muscle. It is the lower cluster of a set of muscle. So every ab exercise you perform will incorporate all of the group of muscles we call "abs" in some form. To focus more on the lower ab cluster we use exercises that involve moving the pelvis. Below now and in the coming weeks there will be more and more lower ab exercises for you workout routine.
Lower Ab Exercises - Leg Raises
Leg Raises are a classic lower ab workout. The video below gives us a great example of how to perform a lower leg raise.
Lie on your back with your hands, palms down under your buttocks.
Raise your legs about 12 inches off the floor and hold them there.
Using only your lower abs, raise your legs by another 6 to 12 inches. Do this by tilting the pelvis instead of using your hip flexors.
As you get stronger you can go all the way to vertical as per the video. Build up to this though avoid going straight into it. You want grow your strength and control ... and as some purists will point out going the full range of motion actually allows your abs to "relax" at stages throughout the motion unlike the more "basic" steps above.
Things to note:
Bending your knees makes the exercises easier. So you might want to start out with your knees bent and as you grow stronger over time straighten your legs more and more. (Even when you are fully extended it is recommended to have a slight bend in your knees so as to not put too much pressure on areas where you could injure yourself).
This exercise can pull the lower back into an arch which can be and painful. If you have this happening to you, try either bending your knees more and make sure you keep your lower back relatively flat ... or just try another exercise.
Ensure that the movement is controlled.
Don't swing - use your abs not the swinging motion.
Concentrate on contracting your lower abs.
At the bas of the movement have your have remain 12 inches off the floor.
Enjoy the video demonstration.