In a new video on the Athlean-X channel, strength coach Jeff Cavaliere runs through a series of exercises which target those stubborn lower abs and can help you take your four-pack to a sixpack, by utilising bottom-up movements as opposed to top-down. He explains that a classic bodyweight ab move like the sit-up is top-down, as it focuses on moving the upper portion of the body, when you need to be doing is bringing the lower body up to meet the top half, as this is what engages those lower abdominal muscle fibres.
Cavaliere starts out with a reverse crunch variation, advising you to flatten your back out. This creates a posterior pelvic tilt, which activates those lower abdominal muscles. A good way to check if you're doing this is to try to fit your hands under your lower back: if there's enough space there, you've got too much of an anterior tilt.
And finally, this move is ideally performed with a 90-degree bend at the knees and at the hips. If you want to make it a little more challenging, increase that angle at the hips and extend the legs further. Alternatively, you can bring your knees up closer to your chest. "The key is once you've established whatever angle you're going to use, you need to keep it there, and then move the pelvis and the legs together as one unit," says Cavaliere. Again, to ensure you're lifting your lower body sufficiently, you can swipe your hands underneath to touch on each rep—this also prolongs the amount of time your legs are raised, increasing time under tension for the abs.
Another move Cavaliere recommends is the seated knee tuck — but you need to be lifting your tailbone completely off the ground and making sure your knees go nice and high. "You're looking to create that same posterior pelvic tilt, because that's what's going to engage those lower abs," he says.
Cavaliere also suggests a plank knee slide, an exercise similar to the mountain climber but which once again puts the body into that posterior tilt by having you lift your knee at the top end of each rep.
However, he adds, there is a limit to how much of an impact you can have on that area in terms of fat loss and muscle-building through this approach alone, if you're not also putting in the effort when it comes to your nutrition. Because as the tried-and-true saying goes: abs are made in the kitchen.
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