Did you know you can work on your core no matter what your age?
The transverse abdominis extends between your ribs and pelvis and is the deepest of the six ab muscles. Its fibers run horizontally, wrapping around your trunk from front to back like a corset.
To find it, try this: Place your hand on your lower abs and cough a few times. That contracting muscle you feel? That’s your transverse abdominis—and targeting this particular muscle is the best way to tone your lower abs!
These exercises can help tone and strengthen your lower abs, reduce lower back pain, and keep you feeling fit, strong, and energized.
Core Workout Instructions:
- Be sure to take your time and maintain good form (these are not about speed!), and remember to breathe.
- Try to incorporate these exercises into your workout routine weekly for the best results!
1. Full Plank Exercise
The plank is a staple of most ab workouts because it recruits the entire core!
How to perform a plank:
- Begin kneeling on all fours with your hands directly under your shoulders and toes on the mat.
- Tighten your abdominals and raise your body up off the floor, lengthening your legs behind you. Hold your entire body tight, and remember to breathe.
2. Bird Dog
Bird dogs strengthen the lower back and abdominals while promoting stability and balance.
How to perform a bird dog:
- Kneel on the mat on all fours. Reach one arm long, draw in the abdominals, and extend the opposite leg long behind you.
- Repeat on the other side.
3. Forearm Side Plank
Forearm side planks don’t just target your core—they also strengthen your shoulders and upper back.
How to perform a forearm side plank:
- Being lying on the floor with your forearm on the mat and your shoulder stacked over your elbow. Legs are long, with your feet stacked on top of each other.
- Lift your body into a side plank position, keeping your lower knee on the floor and your abdominals engaged. Try not to let your hips rise or drop.
- Repeat on the other side.
4. Bend-Extend Ab Tuck
Bend-extend ab tucks are great for working your lower abdominal area and protecting your lower back.
How to perform a bend-extend ab tuck:
- Start seated on the mat with arms behind you, hands on the mat, and fingers facing your backside. Sit back on your hands and lift up your feet off the mat, keeping the knees bent.
- Keep abs tight, press your legs out long, and your lower back down slightly (you should feel your lower abdominals working). Push yourself back up and pull your knees in to return to the start position.
5. Bicycle Crunch
Bicycle crunches help build coordination and a strong core.
How to perform a bicycle crunch:
- Start lying on your back with your feet off the floor and legs in a tabletop position. Hands are behind your head, and your head, neck, and shoulders are flexed off the mat.
- Bring one knee in and to the opposite elbow, reaching towards it. Repeat on the other side in a crisscross motion working the obliques.
6. Toe Reach
Toe reaches focus on core engagement and really target the transverse abdominis.
How to perform toe reaches:
- Start on your back with your legs long-reaching towards the ceiling.
- Bring your head, neck, and shoulders off the mat and reach your arms up towards your feet. Return to the tips of the shoulders and repeat.
Bridges stretch the chest, neck, spine, and hips while strengthening the glutes, core, and lower back. They also promote good posture!
How to perform a bridge:
- Begin lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor close to the glutes.
- Place your arms flat on the floor next to you, tucking your shoulders under your back. Align your knees with your hip bones.
- Press your palms down as you lift your hips high and squeeze the glutes and abdominals. Keep your neck relaxed on the mat.
- Continue to breathe and hold for 30 seconds.
8. Leg Drop
Leg drops focus on strengthening the lower abs and back. Keep your movements slow to really work the core!
How to perform leg drops:
- Start lying on your back with both legs long towards the ceiling.
- Keep your abs tight as you lower one leg until it’s a few inches off the floor, then switch legs.
- Tip: never go so low with your legs that your back pops off the mat.
9. Flutter Kick
You’ll definitely feel these flutter kicks in your lower abs!
How to perform flutter kicks:
- Start lying on your back, legs extended at a 45-degree angle, with your arms down at your sides and your legs off the ground.
- Slightly lift your head, shoulders, and neck off the ground.
- Start kicking (or fluttering) your legs up and down, alternating as you go. Your flutters should be at a pace you can maintain while still keeping your core still.
- Try to flutter for at least 30 seconds, or as long as you can!
10. Bear Crawl Hold
The bear crawl hold is another challenging move, but it’s perfect for activating your core, shoulders, quads, back, and hips.
How to perform a bear crawl hold:
- Start on all fours and lift your knees so that they’re at a 90-degree angle and hovering an inch off the ground. Only your palms and toes should be touching the floor.
- Keep your back flat, core engaged, legs hip-width apart, and arms shoulder-width apart.
- Hold this position for 20 to 30 seconds, or as long as you can!
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