Working out your core muscles, which include your abdominals, hips and back, is about more than getting a flat stomach. A strong core provides your body with greater posture, balance and strength, according to MayoClinic.com. The lower abdomen is a key component of a strong core, so focus on strengthening the area with a variety of targeted exercises.
While many people wish to tone their lower abdominal muscles in an effort to build a slim physique, it's actually much more beneficial than that. The lower muscles, including the transversus abdominis, which wraps around your midsection, provides support and strength for your back. A strong lower abdomen can reduce the likelihood of back injury, as well as improve your posture.
Several exercises target the lower abdomen. Try the bird dog, which is performed by getting on your hands and knees, tightening your abdominal muscles and lifting your right arm straight out in front of you so that it's in line with your shoulder. At the same time, lift your left leg straight out behind you so that it's in line with your hip. After holding this position for a few seconds, return to the starting position and repeat on the opposite side.
The plank is another exercise you can do to tone up your lower abdomen and build overall core strength. You perform this exercise much as you would a pushup. However, you don't bend your elbows and and move closer to the floor. Instead, you hold the upward phase of a pushup for at least 30 seconds.
Hanging abdominal leg raises directly tone up your lower abdominal muscles. To perform this exercise, hang from a pullup bar, and then lift your knees up toward your chest. Concentrate on tightening your abdominal muscles as you do this. Slowly return to the starting position with control before repeating.
Despite the numerous benefits of lower abdominal stomach exercises, you still need to be careful when performing them. Abdominal exercises leave your lower back vulnerable, so be precise in all of your movements to prevent injury. If you have existing back issues or any other health problem, consult with a physician before attempting any new exercise plan.
No exercise plan would be complete without stretches, as it keeps your muscles loose and helps to prevent injury. To target your lower abdominal muscles, lie on the floor face down and place your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Push up while keeping your pelvis on the floor. Hold for several seconds. Another stretch you can do requires that you stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Take a deep breath in then raise both arms above your head and arch your back as much as you comfortably can. Hold for a few seconds, and then exhale and lower your arms back down.
- MayoClinic.com: Core Exercises: Why You Should Strengthen Your Core Muscles
- American Council on Exercise: Bird-Dog
- Americn Council on Exercise: Front Plank
- ShapeFit.com: Hanging Abdominal Leg Raises
- Real Simple: Lower Abdominal Exercises
- ExRx.net: Lying (Prone) Abdominal Stretch
- ExRx.net: Standing Abdominal Stretch
Brenda Barron is a writer, editor and researcher based in Southern California. She has worked as a writer since 2004, with work appearing in online and print publications such as BabyZone, "Cat Fancy" and "ePregnancy." She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from California State University, Long Beach.