What are the abdominal muscles?
The midsection of your body includes the rectus abdominous, serratus, internal and external obliques, psoas, linea alba, linea similunaris, linea transversae, transversalis and intercustals.
The largest most apparent abdominal muscle group is the rectus abdominous. The rectus abdominous is a huge, flat muscle covering almost the entire front of your “stomach” area between the lower ribcage and your hips.
A second main set of muscles which comprise the “abs” are located at the sides of your waist. These muscles are referred to as the external obliques however they really consist of three separate muscle groups, the internal obliques, traverse obliques and the external obliques.
A final set of muscles which compose the “abs” are the incostals. The intercostals run diagonally down the sides of the upper end of your midsection right below the ribcage. These are normally the last muscles to appear to the naked eye, only visable in people who have taken the time to develop them properly.
- Why do you need great abs?First, abdominal muscles are important for freedom from lower back pain and injury. You may not be aware of the fact that many lower back problems come from poor ab development rather than from weak spinal errectors.
Second, great abs also look fantastic. One of the first spots someone’s appraising eye falls on is your midsection. Great abs tell others straight off that you are fit and care about your health and personal appearance. Third, strong abs are a key to improving performance in many sports.
How often should I train my abs?
- The amount of abdominal training you need to do is dictated by what your specific goals are. If you are looking to flatten your tummy a little then you might be able to achieve that with 8-10 minutes of work 2 or 3 times weekly. A program such as our Tummy Tightener Program might work for you. If you are looking for that awesome, lean, six pack look then you had better be prepared to blast train your abs. If you think that you can achieve magazine type results with some “TV gizmo” or “infomercial whatchamacallit” you will be sadly disappointed. Great, rock hard abs can only be attained through streneous, brutal ab workouts such as our Intense Abs Program.
I have heard too much ab work will widen my waistline.
- Nonsense. It takes a massive amount of work to initally develop awesome abdominals. The last thing you need to be thinking about is backing off ab training.You might find however, that weighted heavy side bends could rapidly enlarge your obliques. This may not be desirable initally depending on your particular genetics and current state of midsection development.
How do I know I’m training my abs correctly?
You should feel a deep satisfying “burn” in each muscle group during every set.
- Further, after each abs session your muscles should look and feel pumped much the same as other muscle groups.Are some ab exercises better than others?
- Certainly, some exercises are better than others; however, we believe that everyone should experiment with different exercises to see which ones work best for them. The key is mental concentration. Research has demonstrated that muscle fiber recruitment is dictated most specifically by what area of the abs you are thinking about during ab training. For example, a set of crunches will recruit more upper ab fibers if you think about upper abs while the same set will recruit more lower ab fibers if you concentrate mentally on your lower abs.
- I heard “lower” ab work is useless since the “lower” abs don’t really exist?There is a huge debate in fitness as to whether “lower” abs exist. The debate is idiotic; “lower” abs definately exist. In fact, aside from obvious functional differences between upper and lower abs, the ab muscles below the navel are stimulated by a completely different set of those originating from the region of the first lumbar vertebra. If the evidence is good enough for neurologists and kinesthislogists, then it is good enough for us.
- Will ab work improve my posture?Ab work can improve posture but if you do not achieve a balance of work between the “upper” and “lower” abs your posture may actually worsen. For example if your “upper” abs strengthen compared to the the lower abs the pull of the hip flexors will increase and cause your belly to stick further out. Or pelvic instability could result which could cause you to appear as if your back was arched.