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Answer: It may not be simply a matter of choosing better exercises, says IFBB pro bodybuilder and trainer to the stars Roland Kickinger. Definitely some exercises tend to emphasize the lower abs and some tend to emphasize the top part of the abdominals, but there are other important factors to consider if you’re having trouble bringing out your lower abs. Read on for Kickinger’s checklist of what to do to turn your two-pack into a ripped six-pack.
When your upper abs are stronger, you have a tendency to pull from them, Kickinger points out. For every rep that you perform, you should concentrate on your lower abdominals. Crunch down hard on that portion with every rep. Also, perform lower-ab exercises like hanging leg raises and reverse crunches first in your workout when your lower abs are strongest.
Don’t worry about how many reps you can perform. Too many people try to do 20, 30, or even more reps for abs, but this tends to make you conserve energy in the weak areas of your abs and focus more on the strong parts. Kickinger suggests that by crunching your weakest area—your lower abs—you’ll improve the quality of each set, even if you aren’t able to perform as many reps.
I tell my clients to work on their abs when they’re doing cardio, training other body parts, walking, or even sitting at their desk. By learning to hold your midsection tight at other times, you create a stronger core, and that will pay off with better development of your lower abs, Kickinger remarks.
It’s true that nutrition is a significant component of making your abs visible. Many people have developed lower abs, but they’re hidden by a thin layer of bodyfat, Roland says. Bodyfat tends to accumulate a little lower on the waist. If you have a small amount of fat on your waistline, it may only cover your lower abs, while your upper abs appear far more developed. To boil down abs-displaying nutrition to a single sentence, Kickinger states: Eat fewer calories than you need for bodyweight maintenance while keeping your protein consumption above 1g per pound of bodyweight each day.
In addition to the previous tips, Kickinger says exercise selection is key to a complete six-pack. Try this lower-ab-specific routine the next time you hit the gym.
|Hanging Leg Raise||3||12|
|Vertical Bench Knee/Leg Raise||3||12|
For each rep, contract and hold for 2-3 seconds, emphasizing your lower abs.