All the weight training in the world won't necessarily help the appearance of your lower abs if you don't also work to reduce your total amount of body fat. When you walk into a gym, you have multiple machines to choose from. Some of these machines will help you reduce the layer of fat covering your lower abdominal muscles, while others will help you tone these muscles.
Treadmills, elliptical machines, stationary bikes, rowing machines, stair climbers and stair steppers are types of cardiovascular equipment. These machines help reduce the amount of fat in your body, including in your lower abdomen. As an added plus, you have to contract your abs to generate force and remain balanced during training sessions on this equipment. This strengthening and toning action increases the more intensely you work out. Gym machines have various adjustments to make your workouts more intense.
The captain's chair is a large machine made of durable steel and padding. The leg raise exercise works the entire abdominal area, including the lower section of the rectus abdominis. As far as effectiveness goes, the American Council on Exercise places the captain's chair exercise second only to bicycle maneuvers for rectus abdominis activity.
To do the leg raise, place your feet on the lower supports, grasp the hand pegs and lean against the backrest. Carefully remove each foot from the supports and let your legs hang down toward the floor. Steadily lift your legs, bend your knees and draw them in toward your chest. Hold for a second, lower your legs and repeat.
A cable machine by itself is not what helps with lower abs -- the pullup bar attached to the center of the machine is. To work your lower abs, all you need to do is hang from the bar and raise your legs in the air. You have the option of doing leg raises with your knees bent or straight, and you can also hook ab straps to the bar. The straps have padding and they allow you to rest your elbows on them to support your body as you pull your knees up.
Seated Crunch Machine
A seated crunch machine works the upper and lower abs equally. Perform the exercise by sitting on the chair, hooking your feet under the lower, padded lever arm and grasping the handles by the sides of your head. Keeping your back tight to the backrest, fold your body in half by moving your torso down and legs up. As you lower down, touch your knees with your elbows. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat. You have the option of increasing the resistance by sliding a pin into a weight stack.