If you’re like us, there’s probably one area you feel like you can’t work enough: your abs. More specifically, your lower abs. It seems like no matter how much training you do, they just stay the same. Well, there’s a reason for that.
“In order to lose weight and show muscle definition, you need to train the whole body,” says Amanda Butler, a certified trainer based in NYC. “[You need] to expend calories — and pair that with a well-balanced diet.”
“It is important to train the core because that is your center for balance,” Butler says. “Plus, a strong core can help reduce back pain.”
Not sure exactly how to hit those lower belly muscles? You’re not alone.
“Lower abs are very difficult to strengthen because that is where our body stores most of its excess fat,” says Butler. “And for women, the hormone estrogen naturally wants to hold onto fat in this area.”
But don’t worry, there are tons of exercises you can do to get rid of it. To eliminate the guesswork, we asked Butler to share the most effective lower ab exercises. For three of these moves, you’ll need towels or sliders.
Don’t blame us if it hurts to laugh the day after this routine.
Perform each exercise for 30 seconds, with 10 seconds of rest between moves. Complete the entire circuit 1 to 3 times.
1. Heel tap
Lie faceup, hands under your butt, knees bent, calves parallel to the floor. Slowly lower your flexed feet forward until your heels barely touch the ground. Squeeze your abs to help raise your feet back up to the starting position.
2. Mountain climber
Start in high plank position with your body straight and your hips level. Lift your right foot and draw right knee to chest between your hands. As you return your right leg to plank, lift your left foot and draw left knee to chest between your hands.
Continue to alternate as quickly as possible. Keep your core tight and try not to hike your hips.
Lie faceup, hands behind your head, head and shoulders lifted off the floor. Using your abs, lift your legs slightly off the ground and scissor kick, alternating 1 leg up and 1 down. Focus on not straining your neck or jutting your chin forward.
4. Slider pike
You’ll need sliders or towels to pull off this move.
Start in high plank position with both feet on sliders. Squeeze your low abs and pull your feet toward your hands, lifting your hips toward the ceiling into a pike position. Slowly push your feet out to lower into the starting position.
Make it easier: Perform sliding mountain climbers, moving 1 leg forward at a time.
5. Straight leg raise
Lie faceup and place your hands under your low back. Brace your core and lift your straight legs slowly off the ground, bringing them to 90 degrees. Slowly lower them back to the ground. If you have any pain in your lower back, don’t do this move.
Pullup bar variation
If you’re prone to low back pain or you have access to a pullup bar, try this variation instead.
Holding a pullup bar, brace your core and lift your legs off the ground to hip height. Beginners can bend their knees, or you can keep your legs straight (hinging only at the hip) for more of a challenge. Slowly lower your legs to the starting position.
6. Cross body climber
Start in high plank position with your body straight, your hips level, and your core braced. Lift your right leg and draw right knee toward left elbow. As you return your right leg to plank, lift your left leg and draw left knee toward right elbow. Continue to alternate.
7. Slider knee tuck
You’ll need sliders or towels for this move.
Start in high plank position with both feet on sliders. Brace your core and pull both feet in toward your chest. Avoid hunching your shoulders or allowing your upper body to lean forward too much. Push your feet back to return to the starting position.
Exercise ball variation
If you have an exercise ball handy, try this variation instead: Start in plank position with your feet on the ball. Keeping your core engaged, draw both knees in toward your chest. Slowly extend your legs back to the starting position.
8. Rolling plank
Start in low plank position on your forearms. Hold for 10 seconds. Roll onto your right elbow, stacking your feet, and hold side plank for 10 seconds, engaging your obliques.
Roll back through center and onto your left elbow, stacking your feet, and hold for 10 seconds. Continue to alternate, keeping your core engaged and not letting your hips drop.
9. Roll up
Lie faceup, legs extended, knees together, feet flexed, and arms overhead. Take a big inhale. As you exhale, lift your arms up and forward and use your abs to slowly roll up to a sitting position. Squeezing your abs again, slowly lower to the starting position.
Lie faceup, legs extended, feet together, arms extended overhead. Inhale. As you exhale, squeeze your abs and raise your right arm and left leg, touching hand to foot. Inhale and slowly lower to the starting position. Repeat for 15 seconds. Repeat on the opposite side.
Special thanks to our model, Amanda Butler, a certified trainer based in NYC. Amanda wears a top by Lululemon and pants by C9 Champion, and she uses Slidez by SKLZ.