The distended belly, muffin top, baby pooch, mummy tummy…whatever you want to call 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. A lower belly pooch can be the culprit of bad posture, c-section, muscle imbalances or an under recruited transverse abs.
As a mom it is the most sought after question and I hope to put your mind at ease – and your body to work here in a bit. If you recently had a baby, please check out our postpartum exercise guidelines.
Your lower abs are not separate from your upper abs. They belong to the rectus abdominis or the “six-pack” muscle. But they can work separately. 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! But first, let’s talk about the importance of a strong foundation (your core) to help with pains, weaknesses, etc.
You have to use specific core muscles if you expect them to get back to their prior self – or even better self. Think of it this way, you don’t train for a Half Marathon by NOT running. So you cannot expect to train your low abs/core to flatten by NOT exercising it.
Let’s start with training it the correct way so you can maximize your time. 90% of us do a crunch the wrong way. Instead of engaging the inner core muscles and flattening the belly, we tend to “pooch” the belly out as we crunch up. Why? It is easier that way and by default our bodies take the easy route! More than likely your stronger muscles are recruited and take over the weaker muscles (in this case the upper abs and back extensors take over for the lower abs).
Abs are made in the Kitchen Have you heard this before? Well, it’s partly true. We all have overlying fat on our bellies. This fat lies on top of our muscles. To decrease this fat we have to be mindful with our nutrition.
Can I spot reduce my lower abs? Oh I want to say yes! But the real scientific answer is nope, nada, you cannot. A full body training program with cardio is your best bet to getting a stronger, slimmer core.
The most popular 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 a plank or a crunch? This is why…those muscles are stronger. So working the core as a unit is so important.
Activate your low abs while sitting. 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 title. 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!
TA KNEE LIFTS
Set Up: Begin by standing on a mat with your feet slightly apart, facing forward. Raise your arms to shoulder height and bend them upward in a ninety degree angle, fists closed.
Raise your right knee, bending your leg in a ninety degree angle, until it is parallel to the floor (at the height of your hips). Lower your leg back down and repeat on the left side. Keep your abs tight and stomach straight as you lift your legs.
One rep means lifting each knee once- do 15 reps!
LOWER AB PLANK
Set Up: Kneel on a mat and lean forward, catching yourself with your arms so that your elbows and forearm are on the ground (fists closed). You should be supporting your body with your arms and knees.
Keep your stomach tight and hold your body in a straight line from your head to your knees. Raise one arm and hold it for one second. Lower your arm and then raise your other arm, again holding for a count of one.
Repeat each side 15 times keeping those abs tight the whole time!
HOLLOW AB ROCKER
Set Up: Lay on your back, legs tight together and arms straight over your head.
Raise your feet about one foot off the ground, keeping your legs together and straight. Tighten your abs and bend your knees, bringing them in toward your stomach. As you bend your knees, lower your arms, raising your head slightly as well, and tap the bottoms of your feet. Lower your legs back to the starting position, not letting your feet touch the floor, and return your arms to their starting position as well.
Do 15 of these Ab rockers!
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 right leg slowly and tap your toe on the ground. Bring your leg back to the starting position. Repeat with your left leg. As you raise and lower your legs, keep your core muscles tight and push your lower back into the ground (don’t let it arch!).
Do 15 toe touches with each foot.
LOWER AB CRUNCH
Set Up: Lay flat on your back with your hands behind your head. Raise your legs so that you’re your left leg is straight up and down. Position your right leg to be slightly lower than your left. So, your left leg should make a ninety degree angel with the floor and your right leg should be a 45 degree angle.
Keep your legs straight, abs tight and use your ab muscles to lift your head up off the ground. Don’t pull on your head with your hands but use your abs to lift your head and shoulders.
Do 15 reps then switch your leg position so that your right leg is higher than the left and do 15 more!