What are the best lower ab exercises?
Incorporating the best lower ab exercises in your regular gym sessions is an effective way to develop a strong and stable core.
These workouts will also help shift belly fat, delivering a toned abdominal region that provides protection around the lumbar.
This guide to the best lower abs exercises will help you put together the best workout for the rectus abdominis, improving your health and well-being.
The Best Lower Ab Exercises
Our exercise lists are created by determining the best exercises for muscle growth, core strength, and overall health and well-being.
Here’s our list of the 10 best lower ab exercises:
10. Plank Pikes
If you’re after a lower ab workout that also brings the hips and back into play, look no further than plank pikes.
As well as developing strength in the abs, this workout will also increase mobility in the hips.
How to do it:
To perform the pike plank:
- Grab a mat and appropriate space on the floor
- Raise onto your forearms with your legs straight in the plank position
- Jump your feet into the pike position, maintaining the straightness of your legs
- Jump back to the starting position. Make sure you keep your back flat as your feet land
An easy to perform exercise which doesn’t require any equipment, pike planks are a firm favorite for core workout sessions.
Core stability and overall lower body strength are other great benefits from this popular exercise.
Try including this exercise as part of a bodyweight core workout session or as part of your warm-ups to help improve overall flexibility.
9. Pilates 100
This workout is a versatile routine that can help lower belly fat and better overall definition in the abs.
It’s also a great way to warm up or cool down, as well as contributing towards increased spinal mobility.
How to do it:
To perform the Pilates 100 routine:
- Lie flat on your back and bring your knees into your chest, and lift your head, neck, and shoulders off the mat
- With arms extended at your sides, push your legs out slightly above the floor, engaging your abs and back to keep you pressed into the floor around your core
- Lift your legs upwards and pump your arms straight out towards your toes
Pilates 100 is an effective abs-focused exercise that you can master with ease and regularly perform with minimal risk of injury.
Blood flow, stronger circulation, and more controlled breathing are other benefits you’ll experience through performing this exercise.
Include this exercise at least 3 times per week in your training sessions to notice great results, especially if you’re focused on getting great abs.
Since your opposite arm and legs are moved in tandem when performing deadbugs, your rectus abdominis muscles are more thoroughly engaged, making this the best lower ab workout for all-round flexibility.
It’s a great exercise for your lower abs which can also improve balance and posture.
How to do it:
To perform deadbugs, lie on your back on a mat, then:
- Point both arms directly up into the air, and raise your knees so your thighs are pointing upwards and your lower leg is parallel with the floor
- With your core engaged and back flat, lower your right arm behind your head while extending your left leg until they are both slightly above the floor
- Return these limbs to the starting position, then repeat but this time using the other arm and leg
Safe to perform and great for strengthening and stabilizing the spine and core, deadbugs also help build strength in your abs.
If you’re suffering from (or are prone to) lower back pain, you should include deadbugs in your workout to help alleviate or prevent further issues.
Try featuring deadbugs 3-5 times per week in your sessions, especially when focused on developing your core and abs.
7. Bicycle Crunches
This is perhaps the best lower ab exercise you can perform if you want to target the lower abs, otherwise known as the transversus abdominis.
Since this muscle supports your hips and spine, working it helps lower the chances of injuries in this region.
How to do it:
To perform bicycle crunches:
- Lie on the ground with your lower back pressed into the floor, then slightly raise your head and shoulders
- With your fingertips lightly touching the sides of your head, lift one leg off the ground, then extend it outwards
- Lift the other leg and bend the knee up towards your chest
- As your knee comes up, twist at your core and bring the opposite elbow down to meet the knee. Keep the elbow in the same position relative to your head
- Lower the leg with the raised knee, at the same time raising the knee of your other leg and twisting your core, so the opposite elbow now comes down to meet the other knee
- Repeat with your sides alternating for as many reps as you see fit
This is a highly effective ab exercise that can assist with form across various activities other than the obvious cycling.
As well as working the abs — and deep abs — your obliques are also engaged, enhancing the benefits and improvements to your spine’s health.
Perform bicycle crunches to warm up before cardiovascular exercises or as part of your general workout sessions 2-3 times each week.
The scissors exercise — also known as scissor kicks — engages your core and abs while also giving your legs a workout.
The quadriceps, in particular, are worked along with the glutes and adductors, making this lower ab exercise great for lower body workouts.
How to do it:
To do the scissors:
- Lie flat on your back with your legs straight out, then lift your legs into the air
- Start lowering and raising your legs independently of each other as if kicking for a front crawl swimming stroke
- Don’t allow your legs and feet to come down onto the floor as you perform this movement, and keep your core engaged at all times
This is an exercise that works general muscles across the lower body region and develops core strength.
Hip flexors, rectus abdominis, and obliques also benefit and gain strength and definition each time you perform the scissors exercise.
Include this great lower ab exercise 2-3 times per week as part of your core/abs workout sessions, with anywhere from 10 to 15 reps in each set you perform.
5. Mountain Climbers
Mountain climbers are a great compound exercise that delivers a range of benefits in addition to strengthening your lower abs.
Core strength and stability complement a great workout for your legs, arms, shoulders, and back.
How to do it:
To perform the mountain climbers workout:
- Get into the plank position, legs extended behind you and raised fully on your arms with hands below your shoulders
- Engage your abs and pull your right knee into your chest
- Switch legs, putting your right leg back outwards as you pull your left knee into your chest
- Repeat, pushing your hips down and keeping your core engaged
As core/ab exercises go, mountain climbers give you the most bang for your buck, hitting muscles throughout the upper and lower body.
It’s also a nice workout to include to get your heart rate up and can be a good way to warm up for other exercises such as racket sports and climbing.
Perform this workout 2-3 times per week, starting with 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps and working up to add more reps and sets as you improve.
While sit-ups are among the most popular core-based exercises available, V-ups are actually better for engaging your core.
This exercise will engage and hone your abs, as well as your obliques and hip flexors, improving flexibility.
How to do it:
To perform V-ups:
- Lie on your back with your arms straight out and legs extended slightly off the floor
- Bring your torso and legs up, reaching with your hands towards your toes
- At the peak of this motion, your body will resemble the letter “V”
- Return to the starting position, then repeat
This is a nice full-body core exercise that gives your abs a good workout while also bringing both the upper and lower body into play.
Legs, back, and shoulders all benefit from V-ups, with improved flexibility and stability, among the other benefits accrued.
This exercise can be included as part of a general warm-up or full body workout day, anywhere between 2 and 5 times a week, depending on your schedule and proficiency.
This simple and popular exercise targets the rectus abdominis muscles, building both strength and stability in your core.
It’s a great exercise which can be easily performed anywhere you have a little space and doesn’t require any equipment.
How to do it:
Lie on your back on a mat, then:
- Bend your knees and place your hands to the sides of your head, pulling your belly button towards your spine
- Contract your abs and bring your shoulder blades slightly off the floor
- Raise your upper body upwards until your shoulders are at approximately a 45-degree angle from the floor
- Lower back to the starting position
With a strong back and abs essential for all-round good health and mobility, crunches are an effective method for maintaining these muscle groups.
Build up the rectus abdominis muscles and lose enough fat around this area, and you’ll soon notice a six-pack starting to develop.
Include these as frequently as you are comfortable with, even performing them daily, or 4-5 times per week each time you hit the gym for a workout.
2. Hanging Knee Raises
If you’re after an efficient yet still effective core exercise that works your lower abs, check out the hanging knee raises.
This core exercise will also help you stretch out your back and arms to improve core stability.
How to do it:
To perform hanging knee raises:
- Hang from a pull-up bar with your arms fully extended
- With your abs engaged, raise your legs in front of you with knees bending as they come up with tight glutes, pulling your knees up towards your chest
- Hold this position, then slowly lower them to the start position
Better muscle development and control of the abdominal muscles make hanging knee raises a worthwhile addition to your training sessions.
Hip flexors and obliques are also engaged with hanging knee raises, making it beneficial for improving strength around the lower back.
Try including hanging knee raises 2-3 times per week whenever you hit the gym for a good core workout or full-body session.
1. Hanging Leg Raises
One of the best all-rounder exercises for upper and lower abs. Hanging leg raises also impact the external obliques.
A little more advanced than hanging knee raises, this variation will also help to boost your coordination in the lower body.
How to do it:
Stand under a pull-up bar, then jump up and:
- Hang down from the bar with your hands in an overhand grip placed at shoulder-width
- With your abs engaged, raise your legs in front of you and keep them straight with tight glutes
- Hold your legs for a moment when parallel with the ground, then slowly lower them to the start position
Unlike many of the best lower abdominal exercises, hanging leg raises work a range of muscles in the upper body and the abs.
Shoulders, arms, and chest muscles are all brought into play when performing leg raises, making this lower ab exercise a great full-body workout, too.
Include hanging leg raises each session you focus on core or full-body, aiming for five sets of five repetitions each.
FAQs About Lower Ab Exercises
Still not sure what advantages you can get from lower ab exercises?
Check out this short but informative FAQ and discover how to work lower ab exercises into your gym sessions.
Q: What are lower abs good for?
Lower ab workouts help build core strength and stability and reinforce the muscles around your core to reduce the risk of lower back injury.
Q: How often should you work lower abs?
You can work your lower abs regularly if you’re performing exercises such as crunches and sit-ups.
However, if you’re working out your lower abdominals using heavy weights, you need to factor in recovery time and include rest days.
Q: Why are lower ab exercises so hard?
Compared to upper abs, your lower abs are tougher to engage, so you may find them more difficult to perfect, to begin with.
The rectus abdominis muscles are one of the key muscles for posture, so strengthening them are important for a range of other exercises.
Q: How do I get my lower abs to show?
Having strong and clearly defined lower abs requires a multi-faceted approach, which includes an appropriate diet and core exercises.
Perform exercises that increase the rate of fat loss, such as squats or deadlifts, along with lower ab-focused workouts which target the rectus abdominis.
Q: Can I do lower abs everyday?
This depends on the exercise you’re thinking of performing since some lower abs exercises fit into the warm-up category (such as planks).
If you’re performing heavier lifts, make sure you include rest days between these sessions.
The best lower abs workout can help you to develop a stronger core and improve your stability.
This guide explains how to work lower abs so you can choose the best exercises for your abdominal needs.
Here’s a quick recap of the 10 best lower ab exercises:
- Hanging Leg Raises
- Hanging Knee Raises
- Mountain Climbers
- Bicycle Crunches
- Pilates 100
- Plank Pikes