Are you struggling to lose that stubborn belly fat? Specifically, lower abs? You’re not alone. Many people make common mistakes that hinder their progress in obtaining a strong and functional core. But with a few adjustments, you can finally see those lower abs pop.
The lower ab muscles are extremely difficult muscles to target. This is mainly because our hip flexors often compensate for our lower abdomen during any core movement. Basically, our bodies use the bigger, stronger hip flexors to do the work when the muscles we really want for the job are the rectus abdominis (six-pack) muscles.
This is why for some people, basic lower ab exercises are essential to help develop the core.
Why it’s Important to Have Lower Abs
The rectus abdominis—the ab muscles in front of your stomach—help move your body between the ribs and pelvis, also connecting your upper body to your lower body. When you have to pivot to grab something behind you or reach up to grab your cereal out of the cabinet, you’re primarily using your core muscles.
They also help keep your internal organs in place as well as provide overall stability and strength to the torso. Our core muscles are vital because they help stabilize our low back and pelvis, keeping us feeling sturdy and supported.
If that doesn’t get you working on your abs, then this might: Apparently, having optimal lower ab strength can make having sex that much better. Lower abs reinforce your pelvic floor muscles, which contract during an orgasm. Now that’s a win-win.
1. Not Doing the Right Exercises
Not doing the right exercises to reveal your abs is a common mistake that many people make. In particular, overdoing cardio. While cardio is essential for overall health, overdoing it can work against your lower ab goals. Too much cardio can lead to muscle loss, which makes it harder to see any muscle definition.
Instead, focus on high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and strength training to build muscle and burn fat. Crunches are great, but they’re not the only exercise that targets your abs. It’s important to focus on exercises that target the abdominal muscles specifically, rather than just doing general workouts. With planks and double-leg lowering, you can effectively target your lower abs and reveal them over time.
2. Not Getting Enough Sleep
A good night’s rest is necessary for our overall health and to feel rejuvenated. While developing a strong core, getting enough sleep is just as important as eating a healthy diet and practicing regular exercise.
Not getting a sufficient amount of sleep can hinder ab growth in several ways. For starters, being sleep-deprived can elevate levels of cortisol—the stress hormone—leading to increased fat storage in the abdominal area.
Additionally, inadequate sleep can be detrimental to our overall growth process. It decreases growth hormone levels, which are crucial for muscle growth and repair.
Lack of sleep can also leave you feeling depleted. It can reduce your energy levels and motivation to exercise, making it harder to maintain a consistent workout routine.
3. Not Eating Enough Protein
Protein is fundamental for muscle growth and repair, and a lack of it can hinder the growth of your lower abs and other muscles.
When performing exercises, your muscles experience microscopic tears that need to be repaired through the process of muscle protein synthesis (MPS). Without enough protein, MPS can be slow or incomplete, leading to muscle breakdown rather than growth.
It would be prudent to incorporate plenty of protein into your diet. Try to consume various sources such as lean meats, eggs, legumes, beans, and nuts, to support your ab growth and overall fitness goals.
4. Doing Too Much Cardio
Cardiovascular exercise is an important part of any workout regimen but doing too much cardio can actually hinder the growth of muscles.
When you engage in excessive cardio, your body can sometimes break down muscle tissue for energy instead of burning fat. Especially when you haven’t had a proper carbohydrate intake prior to your cardio session.
Unreasonable amounts of cardio can also increase the production of the stress hormone cortisol, which can deter muscle growth and lead to the accumulation of belly fat. Clinical studies show that elevated cortisol levels affect protein and carbohydrate metabolism in muscle tissue.
It is important to balance cardiovascular exercise with strength training and proper nutrition in order to achieve optimal growth and development in the lower abs.
5. Not Taking Rest Days
Rest days are a crucial element of any workout routine. The lower abs require time to recover and repair after training just like every other muscle group.
Not taking enough sufficient rest days can hinder muscle growth and lead to overtraining, which can cause injury. Some healthy ways to recover include, walking, mobility training, and Tai Chi.
Without proper rest, the muscles are not given enough time to heal from prior workouts, which may result in a plateau in progress.
It’s important to allow the lower abs and the rest of your muscles time to recover and grow by taking rest days between workouts and focusing on proper nutrition and hydration to support muscle recovery.
Keep in Mind
Remember not to be fixated on just maxing out as many crunches as you can in a day in an attempt to reveal your lower abs. Any exercise can be a core exercise when executed correctly with proper core engagement.
The lower abs can be extremely difficult to tone up but by not doing these common mistakes listed above, you will be well on your way to a strong and functional core.
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No content on this site should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other licensed clinicians.
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