Abs: Anatomy, Training, Workouts & Tips

Abs: Anatomy, Training, Workouts & Tips

Abs: Anatomy, Training, Workouts & Tips

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               Today we will discuss the ever-wanting abs. I will explain the muscle anatomy and the workouts to get you there. Remember that the abs workout is the easiest one to diminish with poor nutrition. Because the first area where the fat stores is the abdomen, you can have outstanding abs, but without a proper nutrition they will be covered in fat.

               As we know, nutrition is very important for making the abs visible. So, make sure your diet is on point: 9 Mistakes You Make in Your Weight Loss Diet

               Also, it is important to adjust your macronutrient ratio for optimal muscle gain/fat loss: Guide to Macronutrient Ratio for Weight Loss, Weight Gain & Maintenance

               Here is something if you need to lose some weight to make your abs visible: How to Lose Weight Fast (The Healthy Way)

Anatomy of Abs

               In human anatomy the abdomen in located between the chest (thorax) and pelvis. The region that is occupied by the abdomen is called abdominal cavity.

                  Transverse Abdominal Muscle

The transverse abdominal muscle and its location on the abdomen

The transverse abdominal muscle or TVA is a layer of muscles of the anterior and lateral abdominal wall. It is inferior to the internal oblique muscle.

               The transverse abdominal muscle or TVA is a layer of muscles of the anterior and lateral abdominal wall. It is inferior to the internal oblique muscle. It originates from the iliac crest, inguinal ligament, thoracolumbar fascia, costal cartilages of the ribs (7-12) and inserts into the linea albaand pubic crest. Its functions are to help compress the ribs and viscera, which provides thoracic and pelvic stability. Without a stable spine which is aided by the proper contractions of the TVA, the nervous system would fail to recruit the muscles in the extremities properly and movements would not be performer properly.

               The best well known method to strengthen the TVA is the vacuum exercise. Also, it involuntarily contracts during many lifts; it is something like a natural weight- lifting belt. It has been estimated that it lowers the pressure on the intervertebral discs by 40%

                  Internal Oblique Muscle

               The internal oblique muscle is a muscle in the abdominal wall. It lies superior to the TVA and inferior to the external oblique muscle. It arises from the inguinal ligament, iliac crest, lumbodorsal fascia and inserts in the linea alba, pectin pubis and ribs (10-12). Its first function is, as an accessory muscle of

The posotioning of the internal and external oblique muscle.

The internal oblique muscle (left) is a muscle in the abdominal wall. It lies superior to the TVA and inferior to the external oblique muscle. The external oblique muscle (right) is the largest and most superficial of all three flat muscles.

respirations (it is the antagonist of the diaphragm) and secondly, it rotates and side-bends the trunk.

               Exercises you can use to strengthen the internal oblique muscle include plank twists, incline twisting crunches and lying twists,

                  External Oblique Muscle

               The external oblique muscle is the largest and most superficial of all three flat muscles. It originates from the ribs (5-12) and inserts into the iliac crest, pubic tubercle and linea alba. The external oblique muscle not only helps to rotate the trunk, this muscle helps in pulling the chest, as a whole, downwards, which compresses the abdominal cavity. Although relatively minor in scope, the external oblique muscle also supports the rotation of the spine.

               Exercises that will help you strengthen these muscles include twisting crunches, side bridge, side crunches, roman chair side bend and standing side bend.

                  Rectus Abdominis

The location and positioning of the rectus adominis muscle (the muscle that we call abs)

The rectus abdominis is the most medial muscle in the anterolateral abdominal wall, situated to the inside of the internal/external obliques and transversus abdominis (TVA).

               The rectus abdominis is the most medial muscle in the anterolateral abdominal wall, situated to the inside of the internal/external obliques and transversus abdominis (TVA). It runs vertically on each side of the human abdomen. There are two parallel muscles, separated by a midline band of connective tissue (linea alba). It originates from the crest of the pubis and inserts into the coastal cartilages of the ribs (5-7) and xiphoid process of sternum. When you think of “six pack” or “eight pack” you are really thinking of the rectus abdominis muscle. This muscle is responsible for flexion of the lumbar spine, as when doing a crunch sit up. Also, it assists when breathing and plays important role in forceful exhaling. Because the abs stabilize the torso they can contract isometrically.

               You can train this muscle with exercises like ab rollout, push crunch, push sit up,  ab wheel , crunch, decline crunch, incline crunch, jack knife sit up, sit ups and plank. You can work it indirectly with exercises for the oblique muscles.

Abs Training Tips

               The core is made up of primarily fast- twitch muscle fibers. This type of muscle fibers are more dense than the slow- twitch muscle fibers so, they need to be worked hard and heavy. The core training should be in the 12-20 rep range per exercise and one exercise to failure for best results. Because of this type of fibers you can do your abs workout three times a week.

               Crunches are the most popular exercise for abs. But, they are not the most effective. As I have said before, in order for your muscle to grow, you have to fully stretch it and then fully contract it. Crunches have a very limited range of motion. Instead, you can perform then on an exercise ball. Ben Pakulski gives great explanation in this video

               Cable crunches are also great for making your abs grow. With these exercise you can use heavier weight. We all know that heavier weight is correlated with more muscle growth. Make sure you are not using too much weight and using your lower back to do most of the work.

               Another great exercise is the hanging leg raises. You can use different variations of this exercise depending on your fitness level. You can use back support with knees to chest, back support with legs to chest or do them without back support. Remember to do this exercise in controlled manner. Do not use momentum to lift your legs/knees up. Do it slowly and concentrate on squeezing the abs. In the video above, Ben explained how to properly contract your abs.

               Also, because of the type of muscle fibers the abs consist of, you want to increase the intensity. Use weights with your exercises. Standard crunches can only get you so far. You need to shock and confuse the muscle. The more you confuse and shock the muscle, the better. You can shorten the rest period also.

Workouts

 

                  Workout 1

 

Hanging leg raise (3 sets of 10-12 reps)

               To limit the abdominals only, limit the range of motion. Do not lower your knees to a position below the horizontal plane. On the other side, to put more emphasis on the obliques, you can twist to each side on successive reps.

Cable crunch (3 sets of 10-12 reps)

               Make sure that you keep constant tension on the abs throughout the movement. Also, do not choose a weight so heavy that the lower back handles the brunt of the work. Focus on the tension in your abs.

Standing cable lift (3 sets of 15-20 reps)

               Keep your back straight and your arms close to your body as you pivot your back foot and straighten your legs to get a full range of motion. Remember, maintain good mind-muscle connection, keep your abs tense at all times.

Ab roller (3 sets to failure)

               Go down as far as you can without touching the floor with your body. Breathe in during this portion of the movement. If you are advanced you can move the ab roller in a diagonal fashion to work the obliques more.

 

                  Workout 2

 

Cable crunch (3 sets of 12-15 reps)

               Make sure that you keep constant tension on the abs throughout the movement. Also, do not choose a weight so heavy that the lower back handles the brunt of the work. Focus on the tension in your abs.

Dumbbell side bends (3 sets of 12 reps)

               Be sure to do an equal number of sets and reps with the dumbbell held in each hand. Do not rest between the sets.

Crunches (3 sets of 12 reps)

               Don’t lock your fingers behind your head. Focus on slow, controlled movement – don’t cheat yourself by using momentum. There are many variations for the crunch. You can perform the exercise with weights, or on top of an exercise ball or on a decline bench.

Reverse crunch (3 sets of 12-15 reps)

               Move your legs up so that your thighs are perpendicular to the floor and feet are together and parallel to the floor. This is the starting position. While inhaling, move your legs towards the torso as you roll your pelvis backwards and you raise your hips off the floor. 

 

                  Workout 3

 

Hanging leg raise (3 sets of 15-20 reps)

               To limit the abdominals only, limit the range of motion. Do not lower your knees to a position below the horizontal plane. On the other side, to put more emphasis on the obliques, you can twist to each side on successive reps.

Decline reverse crunch (3 sets of 15-20 reps)

               Hold your legs parallel to the floor using your abs to hold them there while keeping your knees and feet together. Your legs should be fully extended with a slight bend on the knee. This will be your starting position.

Tuck crunch (3 sets of 15-20 reps)

               Your legs should be crossed by wrapping one ankle around the other. Slowly elevate your legs up in the air until your thighs are perpendicular to the floor with a slight bend at the knees. Your knees and toes should be parallel to the floor as opposed to the thighs.

Jack knife sit up (3 sets of 15-20 reps)

               The legs should be extended and lifted at approximately a 35-45 degree angle from the floor and the arms should be extended and parallel to your legs. The upper torso should be off the floor.

Conclusion

               As I said, you can do this workouts 3 times a week. Well developed abs and obliques compliment the physique and more importantly, help in keeping you stable in other complex compound movements. Remember that you can do endless reps, but without proper nutrition you will never make them visible. To make the abs visible you will need around 10% fat. With training, you can make them grow bigger and see them with higher percentages of body fat.

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