It’s finally 2021, and if you’re like us, maybe you’ve set some goals to get fit this year. Whether you’re trying to lose weight or just tone your muscles, the lower belly is one of the hardest areas to really get results. As many crunches as you do, you might not see any progress, and that’s because the muscles you need to work in order to firm up a muffin top require something a little different. Below, we’ll share some exercises for lower belly muscles that will have you fit in no time.
Your Core Muscles
The group of muscles in your torso, back, and hips make up your core. In the abdomen itself, there are several muscles that contribute to a firm or flabby looking belly. Regular sit-ups and crunches engage what’s called your rectus abdominus — you’d recognize these as those “six pack” muscles. However, when it comes to the lower belly, exercising muscles like your transverse abdominus, your pelvic floor, and your hip flexors matter more.
The transverse abdominus is a group of muscles located deep within the core, below the rectus abdominus. They wrap around your torso horizontally, and become engaged just about any time you move. These muscles also work to keep your pelvis stable, working like a girdle around your waist.
Just below the transverse abdominus, you’ll find the hip flexors. Your hip flexors are another group of muscles including the psoas, iliacus, pectineus, rectus femoris, and sartorius. Anatomy lingo aside, these are the muscles that extend from your lower belly and back down into your hips.
While we may not typically consider the muscles of the pelvic floor as part of the core, having an untoned pelvic area certainly contributes to a hanging lower belly. The pelvic floor muscles form the base of the core, and when they’re not toned, not only does it affect the core appearance, but we can also struggle to make simple movements — and even breathe!
The Best Exercises for Lower Belly Flab
With our ever-increasing sedentary lifestyles, all of these muscle groups tend to become weak and tight, leading to that muffin top appearance. As such, the core muscles should all be exercised when you’re trying to firm up a lower belly. Luckily, it’s simpler than you might think. The good news is, you don’t have to waste your time performing hundreds of sit-ups or crunches each day. Checkout the core exercises for lower belly fat below, and in no time, you’ll notice a major difference.
Performing bridges is a great way to target those crucial core muscles in all three areas described above. Start off doing three sets of 10 repetitions, and gradually work your way up to 20 reps.
- Begin laying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor as close to your hips as possible. Your arms should be down by your sides, palms facing down.
- Inhale deeply into your belly, and on your exhale, press into your feet to lift your hips up toward the ceiling, doing your best to keep your knees over your ankles. You should feel your legs and glutes activate while lifting. At the top, try performing a kegel to engage the pelvic floor!
- Inhale to lower back down and relax.
Planks target almost all of the muscles in the core, including those key groups that firm a lower belly. If doing a regular plank is too difficult, try starting off on your knees. Perform three to five repetitions.
To perform a plank, begin on your hands and knees (all fours).
Extend your right foot all the way back, and then your left foot all the way back, then lift your knees off the ground, holding yourself up in the air.
Hold your plank for 10 to 30 seconds, gradually working your way up to a minute.
The twisting motion of bicycle crunches sets them apart from regular sit-ups. Twisting engages those deep transverse abdominal muscles and helps to lengthen them while moving the legs engages the hip flexors. Perform three sets of 20 reps (10 on each side).
- Begin laying on your back and place your hands behind your neck for support.
- Lift your knees off of the ground at a right angle so your legs are parallel to the floor.
- Begin your crunches by drawing your left elbow and your right knee toward eachother, being careful not to crunch your neck in towards your chest. Then, switch sides. That’s one rep.
There you have it! Incorporating these three simple exercises into your daily routine will only take you about 15 minutes, and they’ll make a major difference. Not only will you notice a change in your cores appearance, but you’ll also feel a whole lot stronger and maybe even a little taller!
Here’s to a fitter 2021.