Lower core exercises 30 day challenge

The 4 exercises in this challenge target the lower part of the “6 pack” muscles. Abdominal curl type exercises that involve lifting the upper body off the floor are good for working the upper and middle part of this muscle group, but they’re not so good at hitting the lower part. The best lower core exercises involve the legs being lifted rather than the upper body.

Lower core exercises challenge PDF

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What the abdominal muscles do

There are 4 layers of abdominal muscles, which together with other muscles that attach to the pelvis give us our “core strength”. The deepest layer is mainly involved in core stability and is what you need to train for flat abs. The oblique muscles form the middle two layers and their main movements are bending to the side and rotating the upper body. The top layer is the “6 pack” set of muscles (the rectus abdominis). These muscles carry out the action of flexing the spine. Depending on what part of the spine you’re flexing, you’ll be working different fibres of the “6 pack”. The most effective exercises for the lower fibres are ones in which you lift your legs towards your body, rather than the other way round.

The exercises

#1 Single leg lower

Single leg lower

Start position: lying on the floor with your arms by your sides and your legs vertical

  1. Engage your abs strongly to keep your pelvis stable and lower one leg to the floor.
  2. Return this leg to the vertical and repeat with the other leg
  3. Repeat for the given number of reps

#2 Straight leg curl

Lower core exercises challenge straight leg curl

Start position: Lying on floor with legs vertical

  1. Curl your head and shoulders off the floor as you reach your hands towards your feet
  2. Repeat for the given number of reps

#3 Double leg stretch

Lower core exercises challenge double leg stretch

Start position: lying on your back with your knees and hips bent at right angles and your hands behind your head

  1. Curl your head and shoulders off the floor as you straighten your legs
  2. Return to the start position and repeat for the given number of reps

#4 Reverse curl

Single leg lower

Start position: lying on the floor with your arms by your sides and your legs vertical

  1. Engage your lower abs as you curl your lower spine off the mat.  Again, it should be a smooth curling movement
  2. When your lower back has left the floor, start to reverse the movement – curl your spine back down under control
  3. Repeat for the given number of reps

How to do the lower core exercises challenge

You just need to follow the reps set out for each day on the chart. You can download a printable copy of the chart by entering your e-mail address below. Please read these general exercise guidelines before doing this workout.

You’ll need to do the exercises on a cushioned surface. Ideally, use an exercise mat or alternatively use a folded blanket.

Lower core exercises chart PDF

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Challenge FAQs

The first day of the challenge should feel like it needs a bit of effort, but not too much. If you really struggle with day 1, then you probably won’t get through the challenge. The idea with the challenges on this site is that the first few days get you used to the exercises and the daily habit. Usually about halfway through the challenge the effort levels start to increase more quickly.

Avoid challenges that increase effort levels very quickly – they’re simply not realistic. It’s unlikely that, for example, you would be able to increase how many squats you are able to do by 10 a day for 30 days, or increase your plank hold time by 10 seconds a day for 30 days.

In general, allowing muscles 48 hours between workouts is good because it gives our bodies time to recover and adapt. Challenges are generally short workouts and for a limited period of time (usually 30 days), so not having many rest days won’t be a problem. With challenges that alternate exercises each day, it’s not an issue, because you’re using different muscles.

Fitness improvements don’t always happen in a predictable way. Sometimes we’re just not as strong or energetic for no apparent reason, or we hit a plateau. If you get to a point where you’re struggling to complete the day’s challenge, you can try one of the following:

  • Take a couple of days off and start again where you left off
  • Do the challenge on alternate days rather than every day
  • Instead of increasing the effort every day, stay at the same level for 2 or 3 days and then go onto the next day of the challenge

Obviously these solutions mean the challenge will last longer, but you’ll still benefit from doing it.