The Importance of Lower Abs, and Why You Should Care
So many of us strive for that sexy, toned tummy, but we may not think about the greater health benefits of a strong core beyond the aesthetics. It’s great to have those outer toned ab muscles showing your hard work. However, the benefits of all your hard work extend far beyond a fit physique.
Although the rectus abdominis is one muscle, it is often referred to in two sections, the upper and lower abs. Many workout routines focus mainly on the upper abs, which as important as they are, still do not cover the entire muscle to give you optimal results. In order to reap the health benefits, you must focus on those harder to reach lower abs, too. Your balance, posture, and even prevention of pain throughout your body depend on your core and abdominal muscles, upper and lower.
Let’s start with prevention of pain, since maintaining health holistically is vital to a healthy, happy existence. Ever hear someone complain about doing ab exercises because they were afraid of back pain. This is kind of a catch 22. The reason for that back pain is most likely due to weak abdominal muscles supporting the midsection. Don’t worry, there are ways to build up your abs that don’t involve harsh exercises on your back. *Note that crunches are not the only way to get those chiseled abs, or even the best way.
Many health professionals notice the effects of weak abdominals once it becomes an issue.
According to Physical Therapist and Athletic Trainer, Mark A. Sullivan, PT, ATC, MBA, “As part of a core strengthening workout, the lower abdominals must not be forgotten. Core strength, including the lower abdominals, is an important component in maintaining a healthy spine.”. He adds, “I have found that many low back complaints can be prevented or alleviated by maintaining a strong and subtle core. I will emphasis lower abdominal strength and endurance especially for my patients with chronic sacroiliac dysfunction.”. To prevent racking up medical bills and undoing damage to your body, make sure to keep your abdominals engaged and a focus of your workouts.
Your abs are essential for balance.
Abdominal muscles are your center of gravity and subsequently vital for any physical activity you engage in, even as simple as walking. In fact, not having a strong center of gravity could interfere with your balance needed for sitting or standing. Keeping a strong, tight center ensures you will have the balance needed for everyday activity.
The same rule applies to posture. if you maintain a healthy, strong core, your posture will greatly improve. Dancers are notoriously known for their posture. It isn’t a secret why they have such impressive statues. They spend countless amounts of time building and maintaining a strong core to have the balance and posture needed to execute their dances. Strong abdominal muscles ensure this. You don’t have to be a dancer or even spend an excessive amount of time maintaining a healthy core. Below you will find simple ways to incorporate ab-building exercises into your routines easily.
Exercises to Build Those Abs
Hanging Leg Raise - While hanging by your arms, engage your core to bring your legs up 90 degrees. Lower your legs down slowly keeping your core engaged. Repeat back to the top position in a controlled manner.
3 sets x 15 reps.
Mountain Climbers - These are a great exercise to engage your core along with your glutes, arms, and back in a safe way. While in a push-up position, alternate pulling your knee into your chest at a quick pace for about a minute at a time. Be sure to engage those abdominals by pulling in and contracting while mountain climbing. 3 sets x 60 reps.
Leg Drops - While on your back, raise both legs towards the ceiling. Inhale and engage your abs. On the exhale, slowly lower legs until they’re about six inches from the floor, or as low as you can without lifting the small of your back. You want to make sure to protect your back from injury so listening to your body is essential. 3 sets x 15 reps.
Hip Lift - While on your back, raise legs to the ceiling, extending your arms on the floor at your sides with the palms facing down. Inhale and tighten your abs. On the exhale, curl your hips towards your ribs. Your hips will lift off the floor while your feet reach straight up. Inhale and slowly lower. 3 sets x 15 reps.