Before we delve in to the Ab workout, an understanding of the abdominals is needed. ‘Abs’ are a muscle group that every man and woman dreams about having and being able to show off by the pool on holiday. But their structure is fairly complicated and being able to understand how they work and contract can give us a much better insight into training themThe anatomy of the Abs
Rectus Abdominis – or how most people know it, the ‘Six Pack’, the RA or six pack is a sheet of muscle that runs from your sternum (centre of your rib cage) to your pelvis (hips). Its main function is to flex the trunk and stabilize the pelvis
External Obliques – When you hear the word obliques think of the muscles that comprise your waist. Their responsibility is to rotate the trunk and compress the abdomen (why training obliques properly may help with slimming that waist).
Transverse Abdominis – This is the deepest layer of muscle within your stomach and wraps around the abdominal area, This is what helps control your breathing process from the stomach region however the main function is to activate the core musculature and stabilize the pelvis before the body moves
However, by looking at the function of the each muscle group within the abdominal region we can gage a better understanding as to effective training. Each muscle group has its own function and they should all be trained to create a smaller, tighter waist and give you the washboard stomach that we all chase.
That’s why everyday millions of gym goers will do sit ups everyday in the hopes of achieving their desired look. The problem is that the basic sit up, is well, basic. Without even going into hip flexor activation in the sit up, purely from having a basic understanding in the anatomy of the trunk we can see that, sit ups, just aren’t quite going to cut it.
One thing we must mention, spot reduction is a myth, we can’t lose fat in just one area. No matter how many fat burning creams we rub on our stomachs or thousands of sit ups we do a day, without correct nutrition and training tailored towards an improved body composition, them abs are going to stay hidden.
What we must remember though is regardless of spot reduction myths, the abs are still a muscle, for them to improve visually, they must be trained, just like our biceps do or our glutes, an efficient ab routine will improve muscle tone over time (no, not the old cliché of ‘I just want to get toned but not muscular, no, muscle tone is the continuous and passive partial contraction of the muscles, so with that, an improved muscle tone of the abs means we will hold them tighter without even thinking about it, not only making them more prominent but also helping with making our waists smaller if we think back to the role of the transverse abdominis).
So what compromises an efficient ab routine?
Well, us here at Wirral PT are going to give you a full ab routine, which targets all aspects of the abdominals and can be done in just 10 minutes at home or at the end of your workout in the gym with no equipment needed.
AND were even going to provide you with a video so you can make sure that you are doing it right.
How it works:
5 Exercises, for 30 seconds each, for 4 rounds continuously.
5 x 30 seconds x 4 rounds = 10 minutes,
Easy as that
1. Half Sits
2. Leg Raises
3. Russian Twists
5. Mountain climbers
A Breakdown of each exercise
1. Half Sits – lie down in a normal sit up position, place your hands on the front of your thighs and as you sit up, allow your hands to move up your thighs until the tips of your fingers slide past your kneecaps, and then slowly return to starting position controlling your stomach all the way through the movement – exhale as forcefully as you can on the way up to help with contracting your stomach (remember the transverse abdominis helps you breathe from the stomach), and inhale on the way down.
2. Leg raises – Remain in the lying position, with your legs fully extended, bring both legs up together to just past parallel with your hips and then lower them back to the ground as controlled as you can, as soon as you feel your ankles are around an inch away from the floor bring your legs back up and repeat (if you find this a little difficult, allow your feet to touch back to the floor to give yourself micro rests between each rep) exhale forcefully on the way up and inhale as your legs lower towards the ground, place your hands where you feel most comfortable.
3. Russian Twists – remain seated, elevate both your legs and upper body so that your whole body creates an imaginary v shape with your thights. Twist your torso to the right side until your arms are parallel with the floor, for the more advanced, try exaggerating this twisting movement by letting your thighs fall to the opposite side, hold the contraction for a brief second before twisting to the opposite side. Exhale each time you reach the maximum point of rotation and inhale as you return to starting position before twisting to the opposing side.
4. Plank – roll over onto your front, place your forearms on the ground with elbows aligned below the shoulders, and the arms parallel to the body at about shoulder width distance. Groung the toes into the floor and stabilize the body by squeezing your glutes. Be careful not to lock or hyperextend at the knees. Neutralise the neck and spine by looking at a spot on the floor about a foot in front of your hands, try and keep your whole body elevated throughout the entire movement with just your forearms and toes in contact with the floor. For the perfect plank position try and ensure your upper back and shoulder blades are parallel to your glutes. Control your breathing throughout trying to maintain tension in the core
5. Mountain climbers – from the plank position, come up on to your hands until you are in a locked out pressup position (top of pressup movement). Whilst holding this pull one knee into your chest, as your knee travels towards the upper body exhale forcefully to really contract the abs, maintain the pressup position to ensure the stablisers are working as hard as possible. Return the knee back to starting position, inhale and repeat with the opposite leg. Try not to go to fast and think about the stomach being responsible for the movement rather than just moving your legs from A to B.
Our top tips for training abs
– Breathing – exhale on the contraction portion of the rep and inhale on the relax phase this will get the most out of every rep
– Concentration – we have just delved into the anatomy and roles of the abdominal muscles. So when you are training them, think about which muscle is responsible for the movement, for Russian twists, don’t just rotate aimlessly, think about your obliques during the movement and contract them as hard as possible throughout each rep
– Quality of each rep will far outweigh quantity of poor reps
– If you want them then imagine you have them – yes we mean it – even sat at your desk contract your abs, whilst you’re out walking contract them, constant tension will improve muscle tone
– Body fat – unfortunately spot reduction is a myth, make sure your training and nutrition is tailored towards revealing all your hard work.