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Workout Wednesday: The 10-Minute Lower Ab Workout

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When it comes to focusing on one muscle group during a workout, most people seem to have troubles with their abs. It’s a battle that many  feel they’re constantly fighting, and that thought alone can keep them from working our abs as often as they should.

There’s really no way around it, though. If you want defined abs, you have to work at it. For most people, that sometimes means having to shed weight, too. Body fat seems to cling to the lower abdominal muscles, which can mean more work, but that’s okay. Muscle-building takes time, and if you’re just starting to do it, I’m sure you’ve noticed that it doesn’t happen over night.

This week, we’re going to tackle your lower abs, but don’t worry, it won’t take too long.

This Week’s Workout

The 10-Minute Lower Ab Workout comes to us from L.J. Walker at MuscleandStrength.com. Even with eight ab-crushing exercises, this workout should still only last around 10 minutes or so. The best part? It can be used up to three times every week! Be sure to talk with your healthcare provider before beginning this workout, especially if you’ve had back or stomach problems.

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 The Circuit

Abdominal Air Bike

This first exercise is a simple one. Lie on your back and bring your legs up so they form a 90-degree angle with the rest of your body. Bend your knees at 90 degrees, too. Make sure your back is flat against the floor or mat, and cross your arms over your chest like you’re getting ready for sit-ups.

Start with your right arm, and bring your elbow up to meet your left knee in a crunch motion, but be sure your body isn’t rocking to complete it. Your abs will tighten, and if you move your head and neck as little as possible (and slow down the entire movement), your abs will have to work harder, too. This can help boost the benefits you get from the exercise.

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Bench Jack Knife

Lay flat on a bench (on your back) with your legs hanging off one end comfortably. Reach your arms straight out above your head and straighten out your legs. Make sure your back is completely flat to the bench.

Keep your hands and feet together, and raise your arms and legs like you’re trying to bring them together, then lower back to the starting position. This exercise can be a tough one, but just like above, the slower you do it, the more of a benefit you’ll get.

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Lying Bench Leg Raise

This exercise is specific to your lower abdominal muscles, which is a good thing since that’s where much of your belly fat tends to reside. Start as you did with the previous exercise–lying flat on a bench. Extend your legs off the end for this one, and keep your butt near the edge as well.

Hold onto the edge of the bench above your head and extend your legs out straight. Remember to keep your knees and feet together. Slowly raise your legs until they’re straight up in the air, then lower them again. Repeat as many times as you’d like, but keep the motion fluid without pausing.

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Reach and Catch

Start this exercise by lying flat on the floor. Pull your feet in toward your body so your knees are up off the floor. Keep your feet together. Place your hands on your right thigh and boost your shoulder blades a bit off the floor.

Crunch your abs by pulling your hands up your thigh until you reach your knee (keep your hands touching your leg). Lower your hands (and your body) back to the starting position. Do a many reps as you want, but remember to do the same number with both sides of your body for optimal benefit. If you’d like to add a little intensity, pause and hold your crunch when your hands hit your knee.

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Chair Leg Raise

This is another exercise that really makes your lower ab muscles work. However, it’s also best done with a Roman chair. Set yourself up in it, with your arms set along long the pads and your hands gripping the handles. Pick your feet up off the ground so they’re hanging.

Keep your legs straight with your feet and knees touching, then raise your legs as far as you can (while keeping them straight, of course). Pause, count to at least (but go higher, if you’d like), then lower your legs again. The longer you pause and hold your legs up, the harder your ab muscles have to work, which can increase the exercise benefits.

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Floor Toe Reach

This is  another fairly simple, but beneficial exercise. Lie on your back on a mat with your legs straight out and your arms in by your sides. Place one of your hands on top of the other and raise them up toward the ceiling. Keep your feet together and raise your legs toward the ceiling as well.

Reach your hands up toward your toes. Your abs should help life your shoulders off the floor, extending your reach. When you’ve reached as far as you can, pause and hold the position for a count of 1 (or longer, if you’d like), then lower back to the starting position again. Complete as many reps as you’d like, but be sure to keep your legs from moving while they’re raised .

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Sit-Up

Sit-ups are simple and beneficial if done the right way. First, find something heavy to keep your feet planted on the floor (a bench or training partner), then lie on your back. Don’t lock your hands behind your head, but instead cross your arms over your chest or place your fingers behind your ears with your elbows pointing out to the side.

Pull your elbows up toward your knees until they’re close to touching, then lower back to the floor again. Complete as many sit-ups as you’d like. If you do them slower, your abs have to work harder.

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Cable Crunch

This last exercise may be a bit more complicated. Attach the rope attachment to the high pulley cable on the weight machine. Be sure your using a good amount of weight for your body structure. Stand in front of the machine, but face away from it.

Grab the rope from behind your head and drop to your knees, with your butt resting on top of the backs of your feet. Make sure to keep your elbows bent and your hands at shoulder height, and then crunch down as far as you can. Pause, then go back to the starting position. The slower you do the exercise, the better your abs will respond and work. Keep your mind on your ab muscles as you complete this exercise, and always remember to choose a starting weigh that isn’t overly heavy.

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Cool-Down & Recovery

After a killer ab workout like this one, cool-down is important for a few reasons. It’ll help your muscles go from working hard to resting, which is important for proper muscle recovery, plus it helps you avoid injury. This week, do a couple yoga poses you like, but choose a few that are on the easier side of the spectrum. End with corpse pose. The goal is to help yourself relax and return to a normal state of function.

Recovery is just as important. Keep yourself hydrated and ensure you’re giving yourself enough protein for healthy muscle development. If you’re looking to try something new, take a look at the list below for some of my go-to recovery supplements:

How are you working your abs? We’d love to hear from you. Please leave us a comment below.

 

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