The distended belly, muffin top, baby pooch, mummy tummy … whatever you want to call it … it can be eliminated! A lot of time, this area is stubborn because we don’t exercise or we don’t do the proper exercises. An extended lower belly pooch can be the culprit of bad posture, C-section, muscle imbalances, or under-recruited transverse abs.
Your lower abs are not separate from your upper abs. They both belong to the rectus abdominis or the “six-pack” muscle. But they can work separately by stabilizing one area and moving the other. Popular exercises target the upper abs, while the lowers abs, obliques, and transverse abdominis are most times under-recruited. Different types of exercises will activate different portions of the core. We have 6 targeted moves for those low abs below!
“There is no direct metabolic pathway from the muscle cells in your midsection to the fat cells surrounding them. For the abdominal muscles to use stored fat for energy, your body must first send it to the liver. The liver converts this fat into fatty acids and sends it back to the abdominal muscles to be used as fuel. Unfortunately the stored fat the abdominal muscles use first may not be from the abdominal region. This is because your body uses its fat stores such that the last place you added fat to is the first place you will lose it.” Paul Chek couldn’t have explained it better!
The most effective core workout is one that works the entire core. If one portion is weak, other (stronger) muscles take over. Have you ever felt your lower back or your upper abs take over during an ab exercise? This is why … those muscles are stronger. So working the core as a unit is so important.
Don’t neglect the other 23.5 hours a day! Sitting in poor posture for prolonged periods of time can wreak havoc on your hips and lower back. Add a little bit of tension in your low abs while sitting to ease pressure on your back. In order to fully engage your abdominals, and in particular your transverse abdominis (TA), you have to pull your navel in toward your spine, without shifting the pelvis. This engages the TA, and also works on the other muscles that run along your spine. Download our Ab Rehab Guide for more!
LOW AB TAPS
Set Up: Begin lying on a mat with your feet slightly apart. Place your hands on your lower abdomen.
Activate your core by adding a small pelvic tilt. Raise your right knee, bending your leg in a ninety degree angle, then raise your left knee. Keep your lower back on the ground so stronger muscles — like the rectus abdominis and back extensors — don’t take over the weaker muscles.
Do 15 reps!
LOW AB & TRANSVERSE AB KNEE LIFTS
Set Up: Lay flat on your back with your hands under your lower back.
Activate your core by drawing in the lower abs and lifting both knees up. Raise your hips 1-3″ off of the ground.
Do 15 reps!
LOWER AB PLANK
Set Up: Start in a plank position.
Keep your stomach tight and hold your body in a straight line from your head to your knees. As you exhale draw your lower abs in and lift your hips. Return to plank.
Repeat 15 times keeping those abdominals tight!
90-DEGREE AB DROPS
Set Up: Lay flat on your back on a mat then bend your knees so that your legs are at a ninety degree angle, in line with your hips.
Lower your legs slowly and tap your toes/heels on the ground. Bring your leg back to the starting position. Keep your core muscles tight and push your lower back into the ground (don’t let your back arch!).
*Advance the exercise by adding a pillow or Pilates ball underneath your lower back (as shown).
LOWER AB LIFTS
Set Up: Lay flat on your back with your hands at your sides.
Activate your core by adding a small pelvic title. Raise both knees, bending your legs in a ninety degree angle, then raise your hips as you straighten your legs. Then lower your legs to again, keeping your lower back on the ground so stronger muscles — like the rectus abdominis and back extensors — don’t take over the weaker muscles.
Do 15 reps!
Looking for a comprehensive core program that balances everything we’ve talked about here? Check out Core Challenge in the Moms Into Fitness Studio.