The place to start on great abs may be with lower back exercises. The abdominal muscles are a trouble spot for many of us. Therefore, many people are looking for the best ways to tone up their abs. The abs have a connected relationship with the lower back, so if one is to address the abs properly, it's important to include the lower back. There are a variety of exercises, so let's concentrate on some primary ones for the important areas.
There are a number of muscles that make up the abs. The primary place the abs connect with the lower back is through the obliques. There are two types, the external and internal.
- Oblique Crunch: Get into the normal sit up position with your hands behind your head. Place one leg cross-legged over the other, with the foot pointing in the air. Concentrate on tightening the abs while crunching up and pointing the opposite elbow toward the crossed knee. Do this 8 to 10 times and then switch legs.
- Stability Ball: Start out by mastering the ball. Begin with the simple crunch and place your lower back on the ball. Now perform several sets of 8 to 10 crunches.
Strength in the lower back keeps those muscles tight and can help in preventing the belly from hanging over the belt line. Lower back exercises should involve using your own body weight, weights and stretching. Like most muscles there are multiple ways to work them out, so let's start with some basics.
- Knee to Chest Stretch: Start out lying on a flat surface and then bring one bent knee toward the chest. Do this 8 to 10 times and then switch knees. As you progress you can begin working the abs out in conjunction with this back stretch by raising and straightening your leg up into the air.
- Side Bends: Stand with your feet at shoulders length apart. Place one hand behind your head. Lower your upper body in a side bend in the opposite direction of the elbow behind your head. Stretch the lower back and side. Hold the stretch for a bit on each bend and return.
Tip: Remember that you want to tone your abs, so pay attention to keeping them tight and in mind while you perform each exercise or stretch.
Body Weight and Weights
- The Squat: This exercise is not only good for the lower back and abs, but also for the entire core of the body. Place your back against a straight wall and slowly lower yourself into a controlled crouch while keeping the abs and back muscles tight. Repeat this up to 10 times for a number of sets. The squat can be even more of challenge by adding a weight bar and not using a wall for support, but it works the core. Be careful to start out with the right amount of weight.
- Dead Lifts: Find the appropriate amount of weight, preferably in the form of a dumbbell. Stand with legs slightly flexed and feet at hips-length. Position the dumbbell at the front of your hip and lower it toward your shin while keeping those abs in mind. Try not to bend your legs too much, but don't lock them either. Do several sets of 8 to 10 repetitions.
The lower back can be a forgotten area, but it carries a lot of weight with it. As you look at your abs in the mirror and plan ways of toning them up, don't forget about the lower back and the many exercises you can do to tighten up both the front and back of your body's mid-section.