For a strong core and a well-defined torso, you need more than building your six pack. In fact, there is a lot more to a great abs workout than crunches and sit-ups.
The lower abs, containing the transverse abdominum and the obliques, are crucial for improving the core’s performance and to target them you need to incorporate more functional patterns of movement into your abs routine – twisting, rotating, extending and flexing movements can help you develop your entire abdominal area and increase your strength at all your major lifts. Not to mention that you’ll have the perfect beach body, complete with that sexy V-cut!
Targeting Your Lower Abs
To get better results from your abs routine, the first thing you have to do is polish up your technique. Instead of focusing solely on increasing the number of set and reps you perform, build a stronger mind-muscle connection by performing the exercises more effectively, i.e. in a slower and controlled manner with flawless form. Then, consider adding weights to the exercises you typically perform. This will help you engage more muscle fibers and develop tremendous amounts of strength and power a lot faster.
To shift the emphasis to your lower abs, you need to include exercises that target them at the beginning and at the end of your abs workouts. Here are our suggestions:
Leg raises work great for isolating your lower abs since your arms out of the equation. However, make sure you don’t let the swinging motion of the legs do all the work and instead focus on executing the movement in a slow and controlled way. Perform 3 sets of 12 reps. Once your strength improves, increase the intensity of the exercise by holding a weighted medicine ball between your feet.
Planks are good for integrating the entire core and improving it function, training all of the muscles of the abdominals, lower back and more. While performing them, mentally focus on the lower abs until you feel an intense contraction there. Start by performing three 60-second sets. Once you get more comfortable with the exercise, try the inclined version by resting your feet on a medicine ball to increase muscle activation.
Weighted crunches are 10x more effective than regular ones, thanks to the increased pressure placed on the abdominal muscles.
To perform them, lay flat on your back with your feet firmly placed on the floor and knees bent and hold a weight in your hands in front of you or extended above your torso. Slowly begin to roll your shoulders off the floor while keeping your lower back on the floor. At the top of the movement, squeeze your abs and hold for a second, then slowly lower yourself back down. Perform 3 sets of 20 reps.
Besides these exercises, you can add more squats, rolling planks and similar effective lower body movements to your core routine to improve the activation of your lower abs. Keep in mind that core strength is extremely important during all leg exercises, so if you set out to train your legs with the help of big compound exercises, your core will have a better rate of development too.
In addition, work on improving your form and technique and really focusing on the exercises instead of just going through the motions. One study from Hull University found that people who mentally focus on their muscles experienced greater muscle activity which results in greater strength gains in the long run. So if you really want to build a rock solid abdominals, start performing the motions slower and with a greater mental focus on the lower abs.
Finally, don’t forget that regardless of how well defined your lower abs are, if you have a big layer of body fat covering them, they’ll never be able to shine through and give you the look you want. If this is the case, try including more cardio to your daily workouts and keep a close eye on your calorie consumption.
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Never forget that with a bit of patience and smart training, everyone, including you, can get the shredded abs of their dreams!