Introducing Your Ab Muscles

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If you want to see your abs, you need two things:

  1. Low Body Fat
  2. Developed Ab Muscles

Lowering your body fat percentage means fixing your nutrition, training your lean muscles, and boosting your metabolism.

Ryan_Reynolds_abs

And when it comes to developing your ab muscles,crunches and side crunches just don’t cut it.

There are four main groups of ab muscles that all work together.  They are the:

  • External Obliques
  • Internal Obliques
  • Rectus Abdominis
  • Transverse Abdominis

A little info on each group…

Ab Muscles: External Obliques

external obliques ab muscles

These muscles start at your ribs and extend diagonally down the sides of your waist.  If a movements twists you or bends you to the side, your external obliques are involved.

Think of throwing a ball or swinging a tennis racket, both of these moves wouldn’t be possible without your external obliques.

In fact, they are so strong and powerful that one of the main functions of your rectus abdominis is to act like a “brake” when you twist to keep you from injuring your back.

Exercises to work these muscles include: Windshield wipers, bicycle crunches, side bends, russian twists, and chopping exercises.

Ab Muscles: Internal Obliques

internal-obliques-ab-muscles

Your internal obliques lie between your rib cage and your external obliques, and also run diagonally down the sides of your waist.

These are used in twisting exercises, deep breathing, and side bending exercises.  When you twist, your internal obliques work with the external obliques on their opposite side to create the movement.  Exhaling when you breathe is accomplished by your internal obliques pulling everything up against your diaphragm to force the air out of your lungs.

Exercises to work these muscles include: All of the exercises for your external obliques (twists) as well as side bends and deep breathing.

Ab Muscles: Rectus Abdominis

Rectus_abdominis_ab_muscles

Your rectus abdominus is the muscle group everyone thinks of when they visualize “abs.”

It’s actually a pair of muscles that run up from your pelvis all the way to your rib cage.  The “squares” that make up the six pack (and rarely an eight pack) are formed by a center line of connective tissue called the linea alba and crossbands of fibrous tissue called tendinous intersections.

The rectus abdominis is used to create internal pressure in your abomen to protect your back and organs when straining.  But most exercisers are familiar with its other function: flexing your body forward.

To train the rectus, you can either fix your pelvis and bring your rib cage forward (crunch), fix your rib cage and bring your pelvis forward (reverse crunch), or if neither is anchored you can do both at the same time <- My favorite.

Exercises for these muscles include: crunch variations, leg raises, reverse crunches, and pikes.

Ab Muscles: Transverse Abdominis

transverse abdominis ab muscles

Your transverse abdomis muscles are the deepest of these four ab muscles, even below your internal obliques.

Think of this muscles as a “corset”, it holds everything in place.  Its function is to compress your ribs and your internal organs (and assist in childbirth, which is probably an effective exercise).

So to work this muscle you need to do core stabilization exercises like planks and side planks.  If your back sags during pushups, a weak transverse abdominis may be to blame.

Exercises for this muscle include: Planks, side planks, pallof presses, and anything where you need to keep your body in alignment.

Some Ab Training Tips

Train all of these abdominal muscles groups, neglecting one will limit your progress with the others.

Mix up your core exercises.  Some staple exercises like V-ups, planks, and woodchoppers should make up the bulk of your training program, but adding in new variety will keep your abs adapting.

If you want to see the ab muscles you’ve developed, you need to have a low body fat percentage.  You can have the strongest abs in the world but if they’re hidden by a layer of fat, no one will ever know.

You can train your abs every day, just don’t spend hours doing it.  Hit them hard and keep changing it up.  You can invest your training time more effectively than 90 minutes of abs every day

insert abs here

One Response to “Introducing Your Ab Muscles”

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