The Best Lower Ab Workout For Women; from beginner abs (postpartum and diastasis recti friendly modifications) to advanced abs. Tone your lower belly using just your bodyweight with this guided, 10-Minute Lower Abs Workout.
These are the 10 best lower abs exercises to add to your fitness routine.
Some of the most common questions I get about toning the abs include:
What is the best lower ab workout?
How do you get rid of lower belly pooch?
How do you work your lower abs?
So I combined 10 of the best lower abs exercises into a quick and challenging lower ab workout!
AND, I’m including my favorite ab workout cues so you can actually feel your abs working during each exercise.
Feel Ab Workouts in Your Thighs or Hip Flexors? Read this!
Toning the rectus abdominis (aka 6-pack abs) and lower abs tend to be a common training goal. While spot reduction doesn’t work (The American Council On Exercise), strengthening the deep, transverse abdominal core muscles has many benefits.
But here’s the tricky part about core workouts — it’s easy for your other (larger, and often stronger) muscle groups to ‘take over’ the work.
If you tend to feel ab exercises in your legs, hip flexors, lower back or neck, keep reading to get my favorite instructor cues for actually engaging the core rather than other muscles.
An effective core workout requires really intentional movements. The mind-body connection is important in every workout, but ESPECIALLY true here. You’ve got to make the choice to engage the abdominal muscles, and when you do, you’ll feel the burn, I promise.
Cues to Help You Engage Your Core:
This guided, 10-minute lower ab workout video encourages total core engagement through specific breath cues. If you follow along with this workout video you’ll hear me say several of these cues.
Imagine there is a string between your hip bones. As you exhale (or start the exercise), imagine the string is pulling your hip bones together. This engages your transverse abdominis muscles, or the deep core muscles that can separate during pregnancy.
During crunches, press your head into your finger tips. To make sure you’re not pulling on your neck during crunches or similar exercises, place your hands (lightly) behind your ears rather than on your neck. Focus on pressing your head into your hands rather than pulling on your neck with your fingers. This prevents unnecessary strain on your neck in any position with your hands behind your head.
During crunches (or similar exercises on your back), imagine there’s a tennis ball beneath your chin. As you lift your head and shoulders off the ground, focus on maintaining space between your chin and chest. This helps keep your chin off your chest which adds stress on the neck.
Keep your low back connected to the mat (or belly button pulled in towards your spine). This helps you ‘draw in’ your core muscles, properly performing ab exercises on your back. If you feel your low back popping off the mat it means you need to modify the ab exercise or adjust your range of motion. One easy way to modify is to bend your knees in exercises that cue for ‘legs extended’, like leg lifts or kick outs.
Remember, the best way to ‘get abs’ isn’t to do 1000’s of crunches! Rather, it’s to include core strengthening exercises into a well rounded fitness routine. Meaning you can apply several of these cues to engage your core into your daily fitness routine.
The BEST Lower Ab Workout (No Equipment, 10-Minute Lower Abs)
These are the 10 best lower abs exercises to build strong abs at home.
This is also a great workout for postpartum mamas rebuilding their core. In fact, several of these lower ab exercises were taken directly from my sessions with my postpartum pelvic floor physical therapist.
Whether you’re a beginner or more advanced, I’m showing you how to modify or progress each lower ab exercise in this guided workout video.
I’ll coach you through all 10 lower ab exercises, providing form cues and keeping track of the timed intervals.
Alternatively, work through the lower abs exercises below at your own pace.
The Workout Looks Like This:
10 Lower Ab Exercises
60 Seconds Per Exercise, moving directly from one move to the next, taking as few breaks as possible
No Repeats (option to repeat x2 for a 20-minute ab workout)
10-Minute Lower Abs Workout
Perform each lower ab exercise for 60 seconds.
How to Turn On Your Lower Abs While Lying On Your Back
Lying Single or Double Leg Extensions
Butterfly Crunch Leg Lowers + Heel Slide Out
Ballerina Dead Bug
Single Leg Lift (right leg)
V-Sit Alternating Leg Extensions
Single Leg Lift (left leg)
Lying Single or Double Knee Pulls
Low Plank Pike Walk In
Bear Crawl Toe Taps
10 BEST Lower Ab Exercises For Women
1. Lower Ab Engagement + Bent Knee Lifts
Targets: Deep transverse abs (the muscle that wraps around your midsection like a corset).
Beginner: Skip the knee lifts, focus instead on the TA breathing to activate your transverse abdominal muscles.
Advanced: Lift one or both legs off the mat, knees bent at a 90 degree angle.
How to turn on your lower abs while lying on your back:
Start lying on your back, knees bent and heels pressed into the mat. I like to place my hands on my stomach to help visualize how the movement engages the deep transverse abs that come together as I exhale.
Inhale, expanding your belly as you fill with air.
Exhale, decreasing the air between your rib cage and hip bones. Picture your hip bones pulling together. This is what engages your deep lower ab muscles.
As you exhale, lift one or both knees up towards your chest; knees bent at 90 degrees. Then return both feet to the mat with control.
2. Lying Single or Double Leg Extensions
Targets: Deep transverse abs, rectus abdominis, lower abs and obliques.
Beginner:The closer your knees are to your chest the easier this ab exercise will be. Option to place your hands at your side on the mat.
Advanced: The farther your knees are from your chest, the harder this ab exercise will be. Option to extend both legs long at the same time to make it harder.
How to do Lying Leg Extensions:
Lie on your back with your arms extended directly overhead and knees bent to 90 degrees (knees above hips).
Keeping your low back pressed into the floor (pelvic tilt), brace your core and slowly extend the right leg straight out away from your body. Imagine you are going to poke someone with your right toe.
Then return to the starting position and repeat on the left leg.
3. Butterfly Crunch Leg Lowers + Heel Slide Out
Targets: Deep transverse abs, lower abs, pelvic floor and inner thighs.
Beginner:Skip the heel slide and leg lift. Rather, with the soles of your feet touching, knees wide, lower your heels to the mat. Then, lift your legs to return to the starting position.
Advanced: Add the heel slide and butterfly leg lift.
How to do Butterfly Crunch Leg Lowers + Heel Slide Out:
Lie on your back with your arms extended by your sides and legs bent to 90 degrees (knees above hips). Bring the soles of your feet to touch, knees wide.
Keeping your low back pressed into the floor (pelvic tilt), brace your core and and slowly lower your heels towards the mat.
Keeping your feet together, slide your heels out away from your body, ending with your legs extended. Then “scoop” your heels up off the mat, pulling your knees back towards your chest to return to the starting position.
4. Ballerina Dead Bug
Targets: Rectus abdominis (six pack ab muscles), obliques, and transverse abs.
Beginner:Reduce range of motion, only extending as far as you can without your lower back popping off the mat.
Advanced: Increase range of motion, striving to fully extend your legs and arms with each rep.
How to do Ballerina Dead Bug:
Start lying on your back, core activated to press your lower back into the mat.
Lift your knees towards your chest, knees bent to form a 90 degree angle (knees stacked on top of hips), and extend your arms overhead.
Contract your ab muscles as you extend your right arm overhead while simultaneously straightening your left leg. Return to the starting position.
Then extend your left arm overhead while simultaneously straightening your right leg. Return to the starting position.
5. Single Leg Lift
Targets: Deep transverse abs, lower abs, obliques, thighs and pelvic floor.
Beginner:Bend both knees to a 90 degree angle (knees over hips); hold this position as you press your right hand into your right knee. Then switch sides, pressing your left hand into your left knee.
Advanced: Fully extend your left leg as you press into your right knee with both hands.
How to do a Single Leg Lift:
Start lying on your back, core activated to press your lower back into the mat. Extend your right leg, pressing the toes of your bent left leg into your right thigh.
Place your right hand on your left knee (opposite hand to opposite knee). Think about intentionally pressing your right hand into your left knee to create tension in your core.
Inhale, extending your left hand straight overhead, then exhale as you squeeze your core to crunch, bringing your left hand up to press into your right hand. Hold, creating tension in your core.
Inhale as you release, sending your left arm back overhead.
6. V-Sit Alternating Leg Extensions
Targets: Deep transverse abs, rectus abdominis, lower abs, top of the thighs and hips.
Beginner:Alternate sliding your heels out away from your body and then sliding your heels back to the starting position; omitting the leg lift.
Advanced: Lift your heels off the mat as you slide them out away from your body. Then once your leg is fully extended, perform a straight leg lift before returning to the starting position.
How to do V-Sit Alternating Leg Extensions:
Start sitting on your mat on your “sit bones”, knees bent at 90 degrees and feet planted on the floor.
Place your hands on the mat underneath your shoulders, elbows bent and fingers facing towards your seat. Your body should form a “V” shape between your torso and knees.
Sit back towards your palms a few inches as you extend your left leg, sliding your left heel out away from your body.
Engage the top of your left thigh and lower abs to lift your left leg off the mat.
Then, slowly return your left heel to the mat and slide your heel back towards your seat; returning to the starting position.
Repeat on the right leg.
7. Lying Single or Double Knee Pulls
Targets: Deep transverse abs, rectus abdominis and lower abs.
Beginner:Keep your head and shoulders on the mat.
Advanced: Float both legs, hovering them off the the mat. Option to add a crunch by lifting your head and shoulders off the mat as you pull your knee towards your chest.
How to do Lying Knee Pulls:
Start lying on your back, core activated to press your lower back into the mat. Extend your arms overhead and your legs out away from your body.
Exhale as you pull your left knee towards your chest, sweeping your arms down to tap your left ankle.
Inhale as you return your heel to the mat and sweep your arms back to starting position.
Repeat on the right leg.
8. Low Plank Pike Walk In
Targets: Lower abs, core and shoulders.
Beginner:Hold a low plank from your knees or toes.
Advanced: Add the pike walk in; push your hips toward the ceiling as you walk your toes as close to your elbows as possible.
How to do a Low Plank Pike Walk In:
Start in a low plank position, forearms on the mat, shoulders over elbows, core engaged.
Slowly walk your toes in towards your elbows and “pike” your hips up towards the ceiling; creating an upside down “V” shape with your body.
Then walk your feet back into a low plank position.
9. Bear Crawl Toe Taps
Targets: Deep transverse abs, rectus abdominis, lower abs, top of the thighs and shoulders.
Beginner:Option to hold the bear crawl position (omitting the toe taps). Or perform bird dog from a table top position.
Advanced: Tap your right hand to your left toe, and left hand to your right toe while hovering your knees off the mat in bear crawl the entire time.
How to do Bear Crawl Toe Taps:
Start in table top position, shoulders over wrists, hips over knees, core engaged and back flat.
Curl your toes under, hovering your knees 1-2 inches off the mat. Hold this bear crawl position, palms pressing into the mat.
Press your left palm into the mat as you bring your right hand back to tap your left toes.
Return to bear crawl.
Then switch sides; press your right palm into the mat as you bring your left hand back to tap your right toes.