Because I constantly get asked about doing more "ab exercises" or crunches, this is an excellent time to review the abdominal muscles, their function and just exactly what the core is comprised of. Please note that this is just a very basic outline or "The Core" and myths surrounding ab training. I welcome any questions you might have. This is a fairly long article, so I do apologize. I tried to keep it as concise as possible.
What is core training? This seems to be the buzzword of the fitness industry today. Let's take a look at what the core is, what is its function or purpose and how should this important structure be trained. We will take a look at all these questions, as well as dispel some myths along the way. Let's get started.
It seems everywhere you look the world is ab crazy! How many different gadgets on the shopping channel do you see? How many books or articles are devoted entirely to "ab training". How many aerobic classes are gut busting classes? Everyone seems preoccupied with abs, but very few people really know what this important musculature involves and how to train it effectively so it is able to perform its very important functions.
Let us begin by looking at just what the abdominal complex involves. The abdominal complex is a very important part of the "core". The core refers to the foundation for the arms and legs. The core supports the body's vital organs and systems and is the protection for the central nervous system. The functions provided by the abdominal wall are joint stability, visceral support, respiratory support, circulatory/immune system support and
digestion/elimination system support. As you can see the abdominal muscles are not muscles to take lightly. They provide a vital role to our overall well-being.
The abdominal complex are also key stabilizers for the core and along with muscles of the back (upper and lower); serve to protect the spinal cord and provide stability in movements of our daily lives. If this complex is weak and untrained, you are leaving your whole core and spinal column vulnerable to injury with every movement. Conditioning of the "core" not only involves the abdominal muscles but also the muscles of the back. The abdominal musculature interacts with the back to provide stability for the torso. The muscles of the back that are involved in stability of the torso are erector spinae, latissimus dorsi and transversospinal muscles.
Let's begin the journey of abdominal conditioning by looking at the musculature involved. The abdominal muscles and back muscles work together as a functional unit. These muscles surround the back and provide nature's own belt. The main muscles involved here are the transversus abdominis, rectus abdominis, external and internal obliques. When one thinks of abdominal development and the famous "six pack", they are actually referring to the rectus abdominus. These and the hip flexor muscles are the muscles used in the exercises you see in most gyms and aerobic classes. Crunches, leg raises, sit-ups commonly used in abdominal training today are not
the most effective at providing the stability for the core.
Traditional gym exercises do not condition the deeper muscles (transversus abdominis, Internal obliques, multifidus) that are necessary for stabilization of the spine. The first step toward reducing back pain and improving posture is to stop all crunch and sit up exercises. First and foremost, you should concentrate on activating the deeper muscles (transversus abdominis, internal obliques, multifidus). You must begin by conditioning the transversus abdominis, with the 4 Point Transverse Abdominis Trainer. This exercise could be done 3-4 times per week. Always do these exercises at the end of your workout. Do not fatigue these muscles prior to your workout. These muscles are important stabilizers and should not be exercised before traditional free weight exercises are done.
FOUR POINT TRANSVERSUS ABDOMINIS TRAINER:
Begin on your hands and knees. Ensure hands are facing forward, and spine is in a neutral alignment. Take a deep breath in and allow your belly to drop toward the floor. Exhale and draw your navel toward your spine as far as you can. Once air expelled, hold your breath for as long as comfortable (not longer than 10 seconds). Keep your spine still throughout. Repeat for 10 repetitions. Rest one minute and complete another set. Work up to
So, hopefully I have been able to see just how different we need to be thinking when it comes to abdominal training. Working hard in the gym with planks, side planks, bridges, chopping movements as well as all the core training exercises such as lunges, squats, OH squats combined with a sensible diet will give you that six pack without the risk of disc injury associated with crunches and situps.
Till next time,
“Monitoring, Mentoring, Motivation”