If you are relying on hanging leg raises or any kind of leg raises for your lower abs to get fired up, you might want to think again. These are the best 2 exercises for sculpted lower abs according to Dr. Gains.
His real name is Michael Kamalu, a medical student at Mayo Clinic who specialises in sports medicine, fitness, personal training and injury prevention. Currently, his YouTube channel has more than 150K subscribers where he posts tips on training programs, workouts and fitness science.
According to him, it is possible to prioritize the development of the lower region of the abs over the upper region in order to achieve a defined lower core, a v-cut abs shape, and prevent lower back pain. Contrary to popular belief, leg lift or leg raise exercises do not directly engage the lower abs because their primary function is not to lift the legs.
The lower portion of the rectus abdominis muscle connects to the front of the hips, specifically the pelvis, rather than the leg bones. Therefore, performing leg lift exercises will not directly target the lower abs or any specific region of the abs. Instead, these exercises primarily activate the hip flexors, while the abs function as stabilizers, working both the upper and lower regions equally.
For those who doubt the ability to selectively target the upper or lower abs, it is important to recognize the concept of region-specific hypertrophy, which has scientific evidence supporting its validity.
The Best 2 Exercises for Sculpted Lower Abs
According to Michael Kamalu, there are 2 exercises that will target your lower abs specifically and both techniques rely on a key principle: posterior pelvic tilt (PPT).
Imagine your pelvis as a bowl filled with water. Tilting the bottom of your pelvis backwards, causing the water to spill out from the front, is known as anterior pelvic tilt. Conversely, tilting the bottom of your pelvis forward, causing the water to spill out from the back, is posterior pelvic tilt. Since the lower abs are attached to the bottom front of the pelvis, contracting them results in a forward rotation of the pelvis, performing posterior pelvic tilt. PPT is the only way to selectively target the lower abs.
The name of the 2 best exercises for sculpted lower abs are:
- Hanging bar-supported full ROM PPT
- Supine hip-drop full ROM PPT
How can different parts of the abs be targeted when the muscle fibres run vertically? There are a few reasons for this. First, the abs have intersecting tendons that create separate areas for each part. Second, different nerves control different areas, allowing for selective activation. This happens even in muscles controlled by a single nerve. Many factors, like exercise type, resistance angle, and muscle movement, determine which part of the muscle gets worked the most.
Research has shown that different exercises lead to varying rates of fatigue in the upper and lower abs. For instance, curl-up exercises tend to fatigue the upper abs more quickly, while supine leg raises tend to fatigue the lower abs at a faster rate.
See the video below for a full understanding of the mechanics and how to perform these 2 lower abs exercises.
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- resistance band ab exercises: Photo Courtesy of CrossFit Inc