Q: Weighted crunches and cable crunches make it easy to target the upper abs with more resistance, but what’s a good way to do the same for the lower abs?
—A. Gibson, Miami, FL

A: It can be difficult to add resistance to exercises that focus on the lower abs.

Quick Tip
If you don’t want to lie on the gym floor, you can also do this exercise on a bench placed inside the Smith machine.

That’s why I developed the Smith machine hip thrust. To do it, lie on your back on the floor in the middle of a Smith machine. Place your feet under the bar and roll the bar with your feet to unlatch the safety hooks. Extend your legs straight up while supporting the bar with your feet. Your body should form an L in this position with your hips bent at about 90 degrees and knees straight. Hold onto the machine or place your hands on the floor at your sides. Use your lower abs to lift your hips as high as you can. Hold the top position for a second, then lower your hips back down to the start position.

The Workout

Use the Smith machine hip thrust in this workout to build stronger abs.

Exercise Sets Reps Rest
Smith Machine Hip Thrust 3 8-12 1 min.
Hip Thrust 3 8-12 1 min.
Cable Woodchopper 3 8-12 *

*Take no rest from one side to the other until both sides have completed 3 sets.