Chiseling Out Your Core: Ab Exercises (lower)
So, you’ve adjusted your diet, done cardio routines everyday of the week, and even managed to get your body fat percentage down, but you still don’t have that idealized ‘six pack’ that so many go for when doing ab exercises. The reason for this may be that you are only exercising one or two parts of your core muscles. The abs are (frankly) a bitch to exercise. No one likes to work them, because they require a myriad of different exercises in order to maintain balance and visual appeal. Typically, a beginner will do crunches to exercise their core and then move on. There is nothing wrong with crunches. Un-weighted crunches are excellent for beginners to grow some base muscles, so that they can move on to more extravagant and weighted core exercises. While crunches are an excellent first step for the upper and middle abdomen, they will likely leave the lower abdomen untouched, and the obliques (the muscles on the sides of the abs) won’t be utilized either. To properly exercise the lower abdomen can be complicated and will likely require you to get a gym membership. The two lower abs hide at the bottom of your core, allowing their topside brothers to take the burden of most core exercises performed on the floor (ie crunches and sit-ups). Squats and other exercises that involve the movement of the thighs closer to your core activate your lower abs—somewhat. There is a reason why, when you hear squats, you think legs and butt—because while they do utilize the lower abs, it’s not by much. The solution to the lower ab dilemma is to perform leg raises. While leg raises can be done on the floor, in order to get the most out of your time, you should be vertical while doing them. This requires you to support your weight with your palms and/or forearms, and literally raise your legs up. Un-weighted leg raises should always be performed with straight legs. Folded leg raises are less effective and should only be used if you have weighted your legs with a significant amount of weight. Straight legged weighted leg raises are the end-game in lower ab exercises, don’t try these unless you have secured the weight to your feet, and you can actually accomplish a set without giving yourself a hernia. In the next article I will discuss more advanced and effective exercises for the upper and middle abs as well as exercises for the obluques. I will also discuss the function/s of obliques, and why it is they rarely make an appearance, even on screens and in pages.