The lower belly is one of those seriously frustrating body parts, and it’s not even an entire body part, it’s part of a body part – the lower bit of your tummy. This vexing semi-body part is the bane of anyone who’s lost weight, toned up, put in the hard work, done everything right, but just can’t seem to shift that lower belly bulge. Arrgh! That little belly bulge standing between you and a flat tummy. It is a tricky problem, but a fixable one. There are 3 causes of the lower belly bulge:
1. BELLY FAT
Belly fat is the most obvious and common cause of the lower belly pooch. Body fat is a funny thing. Unlike muscle that you can target and make bigger exactly where you want to, you cannot do the same with fat. There is no exercise you can do that burns fat in the specific area you want. You just can’t. While it is immensely unfair, it is as it is. When you lose fat, your body decides from where it wants to lose it and in which order. If we could gain and lose fat where we wanted, plastic surgeons would be out of business and breast enhancement (more fat) and liposuction (less fat) would be redundant. But alas, these are the two most popular surgical procedures in the US (along with rhinoplasty). So there you have it. You can’t decide that you’re going to lose fat from everywhere but your chest (if you’re a woman) or that you specifically want to lose fat from your belly. The lower belly can be one of the last areas from which people lose fat and because of that it appears to be stubborn fat. This is especially true for women, as women are hormonally predisposed to store fat in the lower belly area and thighs. But shifting these last few pounds is like shifting any other, you need to control your calorie intake and exercise. If you’re not seeing results, you may need to implement a new workout routine, step up your efforts or get a little stricter with your diet. High intensity interval training works particularly well in shifting stubborn fat. Read this article on how to lose stubborn fat. As with everything, there’s always and exception to the rule. There is one thing you can do (apart from liposuction!) to help you lose fat speficically from your belly – change your diet. Research show that eating certain foods can specifically cause you to gain belly fat or lose belly fat. Read this belly fat diet article.
Posture can make it seem as though you have a problem with lower belly fat. In fact, your belly bulge may be due to your pelvis being tilted too far forward and downward, causing your lower back to over arch and pushing out the lower part of your belly. So it makes your belly look bigger than it really is, and it also makes you shorter. Even if you’re super lean and have very little belly fat, if you have an excessive anterior pelvic tilt, your lower abdomen will protrude. There are stretches that for an excessive anterior pelvic tilt as this video demonstrates. However, if you suspect this may be a problem, your best course of action is to see a health professional for diagnosis and treatment.
3. LOWER ABDOMINAL MUSCLES
Your lower belly may be pouching out because of under-developed abdominal muscles. Your transverse abdominis, a deep abdominal muscle that wraps around the torso, helps stabilizes your back and also pulls your waistline in, making you look smaller and your stomach flatter. This muscle effectively acts as a corset pulling you in. Standard ab exercises like sit-ups and crunches aren’t going to cut it because they mostly target the upper abs. Working your lower abs and deep abdominal muscles will pull you in and slim you down, as well as tone and define your lower belly area. Here are 10 amazing exercises that target the lower abs.
LOWER AB EXERCISES
1. ROLL UP
- Lie on your back with your legs straight on the ground.
- Extend your arms over and behind your head to the point just before your torso starts to lift off the floor. Your torso should be in contact with the mat. This is your starting position.
- Inhale, curling your upper body off the floor and reaching your arms toward the ceiling, exhale about halfway up, continuing rolling forward reaching all the way to your toes.
- Inhale, reversing the movement and exhale half way through the movement to return to your starting position.
2. STRAIGHT LEG RAISE
- Lie on your back with your legs straight, lock your knees and push the small of your back down to the ground. Point your toes towards the wall, and place your hands under your butt with your palms facing down. This is your starting position.
- Inhale and raise both your legs straight up towards the ceiling, until they form a right angle with your torso. Inhale and tighten your abs.
- Exhale and slowly lower your legs to just above the ground (approximately 4 inches – you want to lower your legs as much as you can without lifting the small of your back. You want to keep the small of your back pressed to the floor. Repeat 10 times.
3. HIP LIFT
- Raise both legs up toward the ceiling so that they are perpendicular to your torso and steady yourself by extending your arms out away from your sides on the floor with your palms facing downwards. This is your starting position.
- Inhale and pull your belly button in to your spine. Curl your hips toward your torso as you exhale, lifting your hips a few inches off the floor keeping your legs straight.
- Breathe in as you slowly lower your hips to the ground.
- Repeat 10 times.
4. REVERSE CRUNCHES
- Lie your back with your knees bent at 90 degrees. With your palms facing down, place your arms by your sides for support. This is your starting position.
- With abs contracted and your back pressed into the floor, curl your knees towards your chest as your exhale, your butt may also lift off the floor.
- As you inhale, slowly and with control lower your legs until your feet almost touch the floor.
5. SCISSORS/ FLUTTER KICKS
- Lie on your back with your head and shoulders lifted off the floor and your hands behind your head if you need some support for your neck. With both legs extended and toes pointed lift your right leg off the floor so that it is perpendicular with your upper body (keep your lifted leg as straight as you can) and raise your left leg just a few inches off the ground.
- Quickly and with control swap leg positions: Drop your right leg swiftly down so that it hovers a few inches off the ground and simultaneously raise your left leg up towards the ceiling.
- Without pause, alternate back and forth. Up and down on each leg is one repetition. Aim for 6 – 8 repetitions.
- Sit with your feet lifted off the ground and your knees bent into your chest. Place your hands on the floor just behind your bottom. Engage your core by pulling your belly button into your spine. This is your starting position.
- With control, lean your upper body right back and at the same time extend both legs straight out. Return to the start position. That’s one repetition. Aim for up to 3 sets of 10 reps.
- Keep your abs engaged during the movement. If this move is too challenging, instead of extending your legs, keep your knees bent as you lower and raise your upper body.
7. FULL PLANK TWIST
- Start in the plank position with your feet together and your weight shifted back. This is your starting position.
- Slightly bend your elbows and bend your right knee, bringing it across in the direction of your left elbow. Your hips should turn with you.
- Return your right leg to the plank position and repeat with your left leg.
- That’s one repetition. Aim for up to 3 sets of 10 reps.
Tip: For maximum effectiveness, imagine that is your abs that are drawing your knee up and across your body.
8. NAVASANA BOAT POSE
- Sit down, bend your knees and lift your feet off the ground, balancing on your tailbone and sits bones (the bones under the flesh of the butt which you sit on).
- Beginners, grab your hamstrings (just below the knee joint) with both hands and lift your feet a few inches off the floor.
- If you are more advanced lift your feet off the ground so that your lower legs are parallel with the floor. Extend your arms on either side of your knees, so that they are parallel with the floor.
- To make this move more challenging, bring your lower legs up, so that your legs are as straight as possible without rounding your back, so that your body forms a v-shape.
- Hold this position for about 30 seconds (increasing the time as your get stronger), relax, repeat 5 times.
9. DOUBLE LEG CIRCLES
- Lie on your back and with your knees locked raise your legs straight up, thighs together, so your legs are pointing at the ceiling. Place your extended arms with the palms of your hands facing down, by your sides for support. Your back should be flat. This is your starting position.
- Keeping your legs extended, with your feet draw an imaginary small circle, approx. 12 inches in diameter, slowly and with control. One circle is one repetition. Alternate between clockwise and anti-clockwise circles.
- To make this exercise more challenging, draw as big a circle as your can, starting from directly above your hips to brining your legs as low to the ground as you can, while maintaining control and good form.
Tip: If you can’t keep your legs straight, you may first need to improve the flexibility of your hamstrings before performing this exercise.
10. RUSSIAN TWIST
- Sit with your knees bent and lean back your torso about 45°; you should feel your core become engaged. Make sure your back is flat, straighten your spine and extend your arms straight out in front of your chest. Balancing on your tailbone, slowly raise your feet off the floor. This is your starting position.
- Slowly and with control, twist at your torso, rotating your shoulders as far to each side as you comfortably can. Turning from one side to the next is one repetition.
- Lean back further to make this exercise more challenging. You may to extend your legs out further to counterbalance your upper body.
- To avoid back pain or injury keep your back straight, move with control and avoid over-rotating.