In order to sculpt your abdominals, you need to do some of the traditional core exercises. Still, they barely touch the lower abs, which makes toning this trouble spot something very difficult.
Make sure you’re exercising all of those hidden muscles in order to really flatten your belly. Here, we’re going to present you some of the most important exercises for fitness expert and certified personal trainer Kira Stokes.
She claims that the most important thing when you’re exercising is to use your brain: “Anytime you move your legs, you’re working your lower abdomen,” according to Stokes. Putting your brain into the muscle group is key, by constantly focusing on your lower abs and making sure you feel them engaged in every move.Unfortunately, most of us feel these exercises mainly in the hip flexor, which can take away from working the abs, not to mention be pretty uncomfortable. “The low abdomen takes so much mental focus.”
Here are some of the instructions of Stokes:
- squeeze the butt cheeks
- prop yourself up on your feet and forearms
- draw the navel in strongly
- never arch your back
- make sure your whole torso is in a straight line
- shoulders rolling down your back
Use a glider under each foot and get into a plank position. You can also use plates or towels instead of gliders. Hold the plank. Then, press down on the gliders, and slide the legs out behind you, while you’re maintaining the plank position. Your arms should extend as you slide your body back. After this, pull your body back into the starting position. Make sure you keep a straight plank pose for the whole time. Push and pull as far as you can, getting as much range as possible. Do 10-15 forward and backs and count forward and back as one for approximately 30 seconds.
Stokes says: “Think of cleaning the floor and wanting to get it done as fast as possible. The key is to really press down on the gliders to create friction between the glider and the floor—that’s what really gets your core engaged. If you just let them fly, you’ll only be working your hip flexors. This move works your entire rectus abdominus, so you’re getting both a stretch and building strength, which is rare for core workouts.”
Get into an extended arm plank. Prop up on your hands while your hands are directly beneath your shoulders and your feet hip-width apart. Press down on the gliders. Then, pull the knees slowly so they come about 4 inches in front of your hips. Push back to the starting plank position while you’re keeping the core tight the entire time and you’re drawing the navel in. Do this for 30-45 seconds, or 10-15 reps. Move very slowly to get the most out of each move.
3.One-Legged Mountain Climber
Start in a plank position while your right knee is pulled into your chest. Keep your right knee completely stable. You must have a constant contraction on that side. After this, slide the left knee in and back while you’re maintaining the height of your hips. Do 10-15. Then, do the same thing for the other side.
During this exercise, your abdominal wall is contracted on one side by holding the knee in tight. The other side is more active so both sides are working. Stokes admits: “They’re hard. It’s more about the quality of your movement than necessarily the quantity.”
4. Army Crawl
Get down into a plank position while at the same time you’re squeezing your butt, with a glider under each foot, on the edge of your mat. Use your forearms to crawl forward about five steps.
Your gliders should hit the end of the mat. Then, crawl back. Hold the plank position and keep your legs straight and your hips stable. Do this 3-5 times. Count forward and back to do one full rep.
This exercise is excellent because it takes pressure off the lower back and the ab workouts tend to strain it. According to Stokes, “A basic c-curve is very therapeutic after the glide work, so it makes sense to do this in conjunction with the glide work.”
First, sit on the floor on your tailbone and lower your back into a sit-up position with a ball, a T-shirt or a pillow squeezed tightly between your thighs. Stokes says, “When you hold something [here] and squeeze, you engage the inner thigh which works more through the low abdomen.” Rest on your elbows and maintain that height throughout. Arch your back into a small stretch while you tuck the tailbone and drive the low back down. Pick your elbows up and hold onto the backs of your thighs. Keep your shoulders down while your chin is open, and elbows wide. This is the c-curve position.
Take a set of light weights and hold your arms out by your knees. Lower your arms and tap the ground. Then, lift back to the start position. Repeat this procedure as you hold the c-curve for 60-90 seconds while at the same time, you’re concentrating on the arm movements the entire time. Stokes says: “Anything to take your mind off the fact your abs are burning.”
Lay flat on your back while your legs are straight up in the air at a 90-degree angle. Put a ball in-between the inner thighs. Your hands should be relaxed down to the side. Press in on the ball while you tip the hips up. You must be careful not to rock your hips! You just have to tip them up slightly while you’re initiating all movement from your lower abdomen. Crunch in and tip the hips. Then, release halfway and repeat. Progress while you’re holding weights in your hands. Do 15-20 controlled reps.
Your body should be sprawled out on the floor in an X while you’re holding a weight in each hand. You can also do it without weights if it’s too heavy, but they will give some extra work for your chest and shoulder. Lift your left hand and bring the weight towards your right shin while at the same time you’re lifting your torso and keeping your belly pulled into your spine. Roll all the way up to balancing on your tailbone. Come up onto your elbow a bit to make it a little easier, but don’t use it as a crutch! It has to be a guide. Lower back down and then change the sides. Try turning your foot out while you’re still keeping the leg straight so that you can get a deeper inner thigh workout at the same time. Do 24-30 reps while you’re changing every time (so 12-15 each side).
According to Stokes, “This move works your whole transverse abdominus, and again, you’re moving the legs so you’re working the lower abdomen.”
8. Six Pack Scissor
Lay flat on your back and hug your knee into your chest, while your left leg is straight and about two inches off the ground. Your right leg should point up toward the ceiling. Lift your upper body high. Your hands should be behind the knee. Then, bring your hands behind your head and lift the left foot. After this, tap the back of the right heel, crunch and tip your hips, half release. Don’t drop your torso!Bring the leg back to its starting position a half inch from the ground. Do 12-15 on each side.
Stokes says: “Pace is last thing to be concerned about. Slower is better, slower is harder.”
Always make sure you do these exercises with the greatest quality possible, because quality is more important than quantity!
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