Training lower abs for men over 50
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It has been said that abs are made in the kitchen. Nowadays they tend to say the more accurate statement that abs are revealed in the kitchen. But first, you have to have something to reveal and in the case of our lower abs, there is a simple test we can do to see how strong they are.
All you have to do is lay on your back and bend your knees then raise your legs up into the air to create a 90% angle with your torso. This should give you a posterior pelvic tilt. With your low back flat on the floor. Now keep your head back and fold your arms in front of you like a genie with your elbows up in the air and away from your body.
At this point slowly lower your legs down toward the floor this should take at least ten seconds. Now in order to pass this test your lower back must remain in contact with the floor the entire time once it loses contact the test is over.
Now Don’t feel too bad if you didn’t get that far down before your low back lost contact with the floor. Especially for us guys over fifty we’ve had a lot of years working at a desk and as we get older, we tend to be less active. All contributing to a weaker core. One of the most common side effects of weak lower abdominals is low back pain.
Of course, we can fix this because we can get fit and build muscle at any age!
The first step in improving our lower abs is to stay away from doing the cool gym exercises like hanging leg raises or even knee raises. We’ll get to them in a bit. It’s just that isn’t where you start. The reason for this is that our hip flexors are very strong muscles and can easily overpower our lower abdominals. If you have ever done leg raises and your back started to hurt that is a sure sign you weren’t using your abs but your hip flexors.
The first exercise I would suggest you start with is the dead bug. The most important thing to remember with this exercise is that once you are in position to do the movement you make sure to tilt your pelvis forward to engage your core pressing your lower back to the floor and once your back loses contact with the floor that is failure and your last rep of the set. If you can do at least 3 sets of 10 to 15 reps at a slow steady pace then you are ready to do a more advanced exercise.
For the next exercise, I have chosen the reverse crunch or as I’ve been hearing it called lately the Lying garhammer. The easiest way to do this is with your knees bent and your hands under your butt. As you advance you will straighten out your legs at the bottom and top of the movement and then finally remove your hands from under your butt and lay them along your sides.
So when you put your hands under you butt your pelvis automatically tilts pressing your low back to the floor and engages your lower abs. And this is what you need to do to ensure you are engaging your lower abs once you remove your hands. Always making sure your low back is in contact with the floor.
When you first start doing knee raises and the same is true once you graduate to leg raises, you want to do them in a way that keeps your body stable eliminating swinging. Not only does this swinging motion use momentum to move the legs, but it also makes it difficult to keep the tension on the lower abs. So at first, you are better off using dip bars like my Leberts.
So far we have been talking about strengthening our lower abs through motion, but that isn’t the only job our abdominals perform its other job is to stabilize our body. We train this isometrically with planks being on the beginner end of the spectrum and dragon flags being on the advanced side.
If you are following the progression I’ve outlined in this video and you want to add dragon flags into your program. Then once you can properly do hanging knee raises time to add it in.
I like to set up lying on a bench with my hands holding the bench up by my head for support at this point I raise my legs and torso so they are straight up above me with the weight of them being supported on my upper back. Then I start to lower them down maintaining that forward or in this case upward pelvic tilt. Once I’ve lowered them down as far as I can, then I hold for time.
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