Amazing looking, sculpted six-pack abdominals are beautiful. Some people can attain that look easily but for some of us it’s a real challenge. Besides the issue with my apple-shaped body type, I just don’t have the disciplined dedication to the workout nor the nutrition needed to get that six-pack look.
As we’ve mentioned before, there is no such thing as ‘spot’ reduction so doing endless crunches will not reduce the fat around your waist but working out your abs will help tone the muscles and make you stronger for everyday functioning. As well, keep in mind that fat reduction can be complicated by factors other than nutrition, such as hormonal imbalances.
Even if you’re not aiming for a six-pack, is there a good reason to work on your abdominals? Most definitely. The abdominals are part of the core muscles that are important for posture, provide stability, and allow movement in your trunk.
The Anatomy of Abdominals
The primary muscle groups that form the abdominals are the:
Transverse abdominis – Deepest muscle of the abdominal group that runs in a transverse direction, hence the name. This muscle is immediately beneath the internal oblique muscles, helps with breathing and provides stability to the pelvis and thoracic area.
Rectus abdominis – Long, thin muscle that runs vertically down the body to the pubis area. Its function is to flex the trunk, moving the rib cage and pelvis closer together.
External obliques – Run diagonally from the ribs to the front of the pelvis, providing support and stability for the gut. Their major action is to rotate the torso and help bend sideways.
Internal obliques – Deeper muscles that lie beneath external obliques and run diagonally in the opposite direction of externals. These muscles provide stability and work together with external obliques to rotate the torso.
Remember that strong abdominals are supported by the Erector Spinae muscles, which are part of your lower back muscles. These are antagonist to the abdominals so incorporate some back strengthening exercises to ensure your core is well supported front and back.
Exercises for Abdominals
When working abdominal muscles, be sure to challenge the transverse abdominis muscles since these are responsible for pulling in your abdomen. They are often referred to as the ‘corset’ muscles that give you the flatter look, keeping your belly from sticking out.
Incorporate some of the following abdominal exercises into your weekly strength routine to tone your muscles. Also remember that nutrition is important for reducing body fat to allow those muscles to ‘pop’. Limit your intake of sugar and other foods that may cause you particular challenges with storing body fat.
High Medicine Ball Crunch
Hanging Knee Raise
Exercise Ball Tuck
If you’d like to try one of our favorite abdominal routines, check out the blog we wrote for ethicalDeal at 20 Minute Ab Workout.
- Hatfield, Frederick C., Fitness: The Complete Guide, Official Text for ISSA’s Certified Fitness Trainer Course, Edition 8.6.6, ISSA, Carpinteria, CA: 2013