You’re well acquainted with crunches and you could hold a plank in your sleep, but you still have a little pooch at the base of your midsection. Yep, us too. Lower abs are extremely tricky to strengthen. That’s because it’s where our body stores a lot of excess fat (and the effects are even more pronounced for women, since estrogen plays an additional role in determining fat storage). Strengthening this area will not only make you feel more comfortable in a swimsuit, but it will also improve your balance and stabilize your lower back. Repeat this five-move circuit two to three times during your next workout.
Lie down on your back with your hands under your butt, knees bent and feet lifted into tabletop position. Flex your feet and slowly lower them to the ground until your heels barely touch the floor. Squeezing your abs, lift your feet back up to the starting tabletop position. Repeat for 45 seconds, then take a 15-second break.
Straight Leg Raises
Lie flat on the floor. Breathing in and tightening your abs, raise both legs (keeping them straight) until they’re perpendicular to your torso. Then, exhale and slowly lower your legs until they’re a few inches above the floor (or as close to that as you can get without lifting your lower back from the floor). Repeat for 45 seconds, then take a 15-second break.
Lying on your back, lift your head and shoulders off the floor (carefully, so you don’t stress your neck). Lift your right leg, until it’s at about a 45-degree angle from your body, then switch legs. (The motion should vaguely resemble kicking your legs in a pool.) Keep switching for 45 seconds, then take a 15-second break.
Stand with your feet hip distance apart, then start to run in place, lifting your knees up in front of you as high as they’ll go. As you pump your legs, swing your opposite arm to give yourself more momentum. Repeat for 45 seconds, then take a 15-second break.
Lie on your back with your arms and legs outstretched. As you inhale, bring your arms overhead and slowly start to curl your upper body off the floor. Keep rolling forward to reach your toes. Then reverse the move as you exhale, allowing one vertebra at a time to rest back down on the ground. Repeat for 45 seconds, then take a 15-second break.