The Lower Abdominals Pilates warriors and enthusiasts out there, I’m sure you already have a grasp on what the ‘core’ is and the importance of keeping it strong and engaged as we go about our daily do’s and what not’s. However, there is no better time than now, especially with the holiday season fast approaching, to swallow perhaps a bit of old information in a new way and take a little time to get back to the basics. The ‘core’ in general, and for simplicity’s sake, consists of the muscles of the abdominals and the stabilizers of the spine including; the Diaphragm, Rectus Abdominis, Internal/External Obliques, Transversus Abdominis, Pelvic Floor and the spine stabilizers the Multifidus and the Erector Spinae muscle group. The importance of all of these muscles working synergistically is inevitably of high importance, however I’d like to suggest that putting a bit more focus on the lower abdominals, namely the base of the rectus abdominis and the attachment points of the other abdominal muscles and the pelvic floor are of even more importance when it comes to overall strength, toning and stability work. The Lower abdominal, also known as the ‘lower core’, is the base of our movement ability. When it is strong and engaged it not only gives us a physical ‘flat belly’ look but more importantly, it helps to stabilize the spine in all aspects which can enable increased strength, mobility and range of motion and it can also decrease any present pain or stiffness in the low back area. For pregnant women or expecting mothers, lower core strength can help with childbirth recovery and also during the labor process as well. Taking some time during your normal fitness routine to send a little extra attention to the lower core will indeed prove to be beneficial to your overall workout routine. Here are two of my favorite lower abdominal exercises to help add a little focus and extra strength toning to your regime:
1. Plank Variation
This exercise is great for engaging not only your lower core but it also strengthens your entire core, the back, arms and glutes. Set yourself up in a push-up position, wrists in line with the shoulders and legs long behind you. Push into the floor with your arms and left leg while bending your right knee into the chest, the foot hovers above the mat. Hold this position for a moment and then straighten that leg back behind you while hovering the foot off the floor. Repeat this motion on the same side 5-8 times. Then repeat on the other side.
2. The Roll up
Lying on your back extend your legs long and extend your arms over your head. Inhale and bring the arms up to the ceilings. Exhale and begin curling your upper body off the floor and continue rolling forward reaching for your toes. Inhale and reverse the movement exhaling as you lower back down to the starting position. Repeat 6-8 times