Forget planks — this 6-minute bodyweight workout targets your lower abs

a photo of a woman with strong abdominal muscles
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

When talking about the lower abs, we often refer to the bottom of the stomach. It’s an area many people try to target during workouts to sculpt that chiseled v-shaped mid-section. As we’ve mentioned before, strong abs are far more than just an aesthetic goal — they can help you run faster, lift heavier weights, sit with better posture, and protect your spine from injury. 

Despite what you may have heard, there’s no way to spot-reduce fat, and if you’re looking to sculpt visible ab muscles, you’ll need to focus on your overall body fat percentage — here’s how to calculate your body fat percentage, and why it matters. 

That said, if you’re looking for a workout that targets the lower ab muscles, you’ve come to the right place. This 6-minute workout uses just four exercises, and requires zero equipment, meaning you can do it just about anywhere. Grab one of the best yoga mats and give this one a go.

What is the workout? 

The workout, devised by fitness trainer and strength and conditioning coach Dannibelle, follows a pattern of 30 seconds of work, followed by 30 seconds of rest. Complete the circuit of four exercises twice through. 

If you’re looking for more of a challenge, increase the time spent working to 45 seconds, and reduce the time resting to 15 seconds. 

The four exercises are as follows: 

Lying leg raises

Lying on a mat, with your arms by your side and your legs together. To do the leg raise, slowly lift your legs up to the ceiling, keeping them straight, until they are at a 90-degree angle to your body. As you do this, keep your back pressed into the ground by tilting your pelvis upwards. Then slowly lower the legs back down.


Lie on your back with your lower back pressed into the mat — don’t allow your lower back to peel off the mat at any point during this exercise. Place both your hands underneath your glutes, with your palms pressed into the mat, and raise your feet a few inches off the ground. 

Raise your left leg up, then your right, as if you are kicking your legs during backstroke. Keep your core engaged for the entire exercise (here’s what that means and why it matters). To make the exercise harder, raise your head and neck off the floor as well. 

Single leg extension

For this exercise, start by lying on your back, with your arms pressed flat against the floor alongside your body, and your legs raises into a tabletop position, with your knees stacked over your hips. Engage your core and extend one leg out away from your body, pause, then bring it back to your starting position, then swap onto the other leg. 

Ab crossovers

Ab crossovers, or scissor kicks, are similar to flutter kicks, but you move your legs in the opposite direction. Start by lying on your back, with your legs extended out in front of you. Place both hands under the small of your back, with your palms facing the floor. 

Alternatively, leave your arms by the side of your body, keeping your palms pressed into the floor. 

Engage your core and keep your lower back pressed into the mat as you raise both legs around 6-12 inches off the floor, or at around a 45-degree angle. From here raise kick your legs in a crisscross pattern horizontally, swapping which leg is slightly higher than the other. Keep your lower back pressed into the mat, and your core engaged throughout.

What are the benefits? 

Like all ab workouts, the benefits of working the core muscles help to strengthen the core, allowing you to run, walk, and lift with better stability and control. As well as helping you in the gym, strengthening your core can help you build functional strength, an make everyday activities, like carrying shopping, lifting something down from a shelf, or simply turning to the person next to you, a little easier. 

Often, exercises that target the lower abdominal muscles will also work the pelvic floor. Moves like the single leg extension work the pelvic floor muscles, which help actively support the bladder and bowel. Pelvic floor exercises aren’t just for women, although it’s important to work on your pelvic floor before and after childbirth. 

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Jane McGuire
Fitness editor

Jane McGuire is Tom's Guide's Fitness editor, which means she looks after everything fitness related - from running gear to yoga mats. An avid runner, Jane has tested and reviewed fitness products for the past five years, so knows what to look for when finding a good running watch or a pair of shorts with pockets big enough for your smartphone. When she's not pounding the pavements, you'll find Jane striding round the Surrey Hills, taking far too many photos of her puppy.