The Best Exercises For Lower Abs

Abs aren’t the easiest body part to target—especially the dreaded lower abs. Many experts say abs are made in the kitchen, and while we agree with that to an extent, there are a handful of belly-burning moves you can incorporate into your workout that also tone and tighten the lower abdomen.

According to Shape, exercisers who focus on activating their core while working out, especially during ab exercises, experience greater muscle gains than those who just go through the motions half-paying attention. Those who mentally focus on muscle activation experience greater muscle activity (that goes for all exercise—not just abs!).

Here are five core-crushing moves to work into your next gym session, and, best part, they only require a mat or towel and no other equipment—so, you could even do these at home before you start your day.

Full Plank Twist: Start in an extended-arm plank position, feet together and hands directly beneath your shoulders. Bend right knee and cross it underneath your body until your right foot lands next to your left knee (your hips will rotate to the left; keep shoulders squared to the ground). Slide right knee back to start position and do the same motion with the left leg. That’s one rep; do three sets of 10 reps. Tip! Be sure to pull your belly button toward your spine as you move your legs, ensuring core activation.

Crisscross Leg Lift: Lie on your back with arms flat by your sides. Lift legs toward the ceiling as you point your toes and cross right leg over the left. Continue lifting legs overhead; your hips and back should rise off the floor and your toes should be pointing toward the wall behind you. Pause for three seconds, engage core, and lower the legs to the ground, rolling through the spine to lower the hips and legs slowly. Switch legs, crossing the left over right and repeat lifting motion. That’s one rep; do three sets of eight reps.

Russian Twist: In a reclined seated position on the floor, lift your legs so that your shins are parallel to the ground. Clasp hands together and twist from right to left, touching the ground with your clasped hands on either side of your hips with each rotation. One right-left movement is one rep; do three sets of 20 reps. Tip! For added burn, extend your legs straight, so your body makes a V shape, and hold a 10-pound kettlebell.

Inching Elbow Plank: Begin in an elbow plank, feet together and hands pressed flat on the floor or mat. Tip-toe your feet toward your elbows, as far as you can go with a straight back (no hunching!), hold for three seconds, and tip-toe your feet back out to the start position. That’s one rep; do three sets of five reps.

Frog Press: Lie on your back, shoulders pulled off the ground and hands floating next to your hips, palms facing down—your legs are bent and turned out, feet flexed, and heels pressing together (like frog legs). Extend legs until straight; feet should be one to two feet above the ground (the closer to the ground, the bigger the burn!). Inhale and bend knees back into start position. That’s one rep; do three sets of 10 reps. Tip! Increase the burn by pumping your arms up and down in a small, one-inch motion as you perform your reps.

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