Question: I have a hard time hitting my lower abs, and I know reverse crunches are a great way to target this specific area. However, every time I do them I feel it in my thighs and hip flexors instead of my lower abs. Any advice you can give me on what I may be doing wrong?

Answer: Remember: The rectus abdominus—the proper name for the six-pack muscle—covers a huge area, so to effectively train the entire muscle, you’re going to need an arsenal of different exercises. Typically, most guys focus on old standbys like crunches. Crunches are great, but the majority of abdominal contraction happens in the upper and middle sections of the abs as your trunk flexes upward. So if you want to target the lower abs, reverse crunches are a great option. To make sure you’re doing them right, follow these simple directions:

  1. Lie on the floor and position your legs and toes straight up in the air. Rotate your hips so there’s no space between the arch of your lower back and the floor.
  2. Thrust your hips up so that your feet are directly in front of your face. Slowly lower your hips back to the floor and repeat for the prescribed number of reps.

The number of repetitions you do for any ab exercise is secondary to the pace at which you perform them. Concentrate on the muscles you’re working and form a mind-muscle connection. If you can do 15 without feeling stress, you’re likely not concentrating.

The Workout

To target the lower abdominals, put reverse crunches first in your ab workout, like this:

Exercise Sets Reps
Reverse Crunch 3 15
superset with    
V-up 3 10
Crunches 3 15-20
superset with    
Twisting Crunch 3 10
Plank 3 30- to 45-sec hold