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Exercises to Strengthen Stomach Muscles & Lower Back

The muscles of the back and abdomen exist as two sides of the same structure. Building one requires strengthening the other, as the abdomen and back work together to form your body's center of movement. The back and abs are essential portions of a complete system known as the core. The core is an intricate arrangement of several muscle groups, responsible for maintaining healthy posture, physical integrity and general equilibrium within the body. A combination of exercises designed to strengthen both are necessary elements in any muscle-building routine.

Knees to Chest
This simple stretch prepares muscles in the back to perform at optimal capacity. Stretching is important, because it increases circulation in the muscles and releases resistance. Lie on the ground, knees bent and both feet flat on the floor. Pull one knee as close as possible toward your chest, pulling with your hands, if necessary. Hold the furthest position for as long as ten seconds before allowing the leg to slowly return to the ground. Relax, then duplicate the process on the other side.

Pelvis Tilt
Performing this exercise can progressively reduce discomfort present in the lower region of your back. Lie face-up on a mat, with both knees bent. Lower the small of your back to the floor by contracting the muscles within your abdomen. Pull your belly inward, while tilting your pelvis toward your chin. Hold the furthest position for a few moments, then relax. Now reverse the motion, arching your back as you expand the abdomen. Remember to breath slowly and deliberately throughout the movement. Repeat the cycle for several minutes.

This movement specifically targets muscles in the lower back. Lie flat on your belly, both arms outstretched above your head. Concurrently lift your arms and legs from the floor, bringing them in towards the center of your back. Pause at the furthest point for several seconds, then return slowly to the floor. Continue in this way for ten or more repetitions.

Arm Throws
To execute this movement properly, obtain a medicine ball or weighted sphere. Stand upright, feet positioned shoulder-width apart, with the ball on the ground between your legs. Reach down, grabbing the medicine ball with both hands. Stand up explosively, slinging the ball above your head. Catch it again on the way down, lowering it back towards the floor. Just before touching the ground, however, burst upward into another repetition. Repeat the motion ten times.

Declined Leg Raise
This movement requires the use of a bench with decline capabilities. Lower the bench to a 45-degree angle. Lie against the bench, placing your head at the highest end. Keeping both legs rigid, alternately raise one and then the other. Maintain a fluid motion, bringing one leg up, while the other moves downward. Continue in this way, until the muscles in your lower abdomen reach fatigue.