The Most Important Ab Muscles and How to Focus on Them

March 21, 2015
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Who would not want great abs? They are one of our greatest assets especially during summer.  However, we must take note that, great looking abs is only a secondary reason. We need to make them healthy and toned to also make our torso strong and help protect our backbone better.

Before we focus on making them toned and healthy-looking we must first get to know the various muscle groups we generally call the abs or abdominals so that we can also appreciate how they function in our body:

The 4 abdominals muscles the:

  • Rectus abdominus
  • Transverse Abdominus
  • Internal Obliques
  • External Obliques

Rectus Abdominus

Rectus Abdominus-GymMembershipFeesOf all the abdominal muscles, the rectus abdominus is the one that is on the topmost layer. You can see it on your ventral part or the front of your body running downward. The function of the rectus abdominus is to flex your body forward. Most men develop these muscles for that much adored 6-pack appeal. This is achieved by creating a lean meat and low fat diet because only during when the body fat percentage is low that these muscles show.

So when you are still flabby in the area, just be patient with your exercises. It does not mean that when you cannot see them, they are not there. You are actually still making them strong, but it will just take some more time and exercises. With determination, proper nutrition, and exercise, you may find yourself having great rectus abs.

A Suggested Exercise for the the Rectus Abdominus

(You Must Have a Swiss Ball)

To be able to focus working on this area, one should find an exercise that contracts or flexes the spine forward. Put your shins on top of the ball, and make sure you place you hands out to a planking position. With the core of your body, pike your hips to form a “V” and just hold for 1 count an then roll back to strengthen your spine, into a planking position.

Take note that when you do this, pulling in your stomach, your head must be in one line with your backbone as you create the move in and move out. Make some 15 reps for this  exercise.

Transverse Abdominus

Transverse Abdominus-GymMembershipFeesThe transverse abdominus is for your spine’s stability. It is the muscles that surround your stomach and the most inner part of all the core muscles. When it is able to stabilize the pelvic region, and the lower back of the body, your body can easily move.

Even if you have some body fat, exercises focusing on this area will  promote a slimmer and flatter stomach because these muscles wrap around like a bandage.

A Suggested Exercise for the Transverse Abdominus

(You must have a Swiss Ball)

The objective of this exercise is to make the core muscles stable, therefore one must perform planks. Start this exercise by kneeling in front of a Swiss Ball with your forearms on the ball and that your legs are behind, stretched in a nice straight line. You must roll the ball forward using your arms in slow motion while you inhale air and then draw it back towards you as you exhale. You must focus on the exercise so that the hands are moving but your core region is not.

Also make sure that you pull the navel toward your spine. Be careful not to roll your Swiss Ball too far as it will be harder as you go along, especially at the your lower back. Fifteen repetitions will be enough for this set.

Internal Obliques

Lying just below your external obliques and above your transverse abdominus muscles are your internal obliques. These muscles function for you to bend from side to side. It also helps you to twist your trunk. Making them toned and strong can give you that narrow waist you are dreaming of. It also improves your posture and strengthens your back.

A Suggested Exercise for the Internus Obliques

(You Must Have a BOSU balance trainer)

Lie on your back on flat BOSU balance trainer, or the flat side of it. Put your feet on the floor and your arms stretched overhead. Begin your crunches, and do not forget that you must exhale as you do it. Bring your right leg and left arm to meet one another and then go back to your starting position. Make fifteen repetitions and then do the exercise using left leg and right arm.

External Obliques

Woman Measuring WaistThe muscles comprising the external obliques are pair of thin, topmost layer on the sides of your torso. They are lying on top of your internal obliques. They are called external obliques because they run in a diagonal manner across our abdominal region. They function for side to side flexing and trunk rotation.

A Suggested Exercise for the External Obliques.

(You need a Swiss ball and some weights)

When you twist your torso, it exercises your external obliques, because of the rotational movement. Position yourself on the Swiss Ball while holding some weights. You may start with low weights like 5 , 10 or 15 lbs. Hold them with both hands and start twisting your torso, transferring the weight to the left side then towards the center position. Always bear in mind that you must also engage your core in this exercise. For optimum results, just perform this in a slow pace. Make 20 repetitions for both side.

You may take these Swiss Ball exercises at the Fitness First Gyms near you. Fitness First hold Swiss Ball class exercises so that it will be easier for you to do the routines.  Another great alternative to Swiss ball classes  is Orange 60 routine which are offered at Orange Theory Fitness. Be sure to check that out when you get a chance!

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