Abs 101: Engage the Core

Exercise, Coffee Talk, Abs 101, basics on abdominal muscles, rectus abdominus, internal and external obliques, transversus abdominus, core, back health, corset, video, tips from town


This week, I invite you to a Coffee talk about the Abs. Our theme is Back to School, so I decided to do a little teaching … an anatomy summary along with how to work the various muscles, and why they’re so important. I think the abdominals are the most important muscle group in our bodies, which is why I’m always harping on “engaging” them in all my exercises. The abs work to improve posture; stabilize our bodies during work to protect the lower back; provide power and force to our movements; and assist with body functions (coughing, sneezing and bowel movements).

Ab Muscles:

Rectus abdominus: This is the outer layer running lengthwise from the bottom of the sternum to the pubic bone. It is the “pretty” muscle we all know that is referred to as a 6 pack. Crunches (target the top), reverse crunches (target the bottom), full sit-ups (target entire length).

Internal and External Obliques: These 2 sets of muscles run diagonally in opposition to each other on the front/sides of our torsos. They are highly functional providing the “muscle” behind most of our torso movements (bend forward, back, sideways, and rotation). These are somewhat worked by the above exercises, but better targeted by side bending movements (standing or lying), bicycle abs, Russian twists, cross over crunches and side planks.

Transversus abdominus: The underdog of the ab muscles and not well known it’s probably the most important of all 4. It runs horizontally across the lower belly right below the belly button and is the deepest muscle. This one acts as a natural corset in conjunction with the obliques and lower back muscles. If used properly, it acts to hold in and protect the internal organs, helps with all those bodily function previously mentioned and is key in the “bracing” or “engaging”. This one is best targeted by isometric or holding exercises such as all planks, V-sits, any kind of stabilization needed for work such as lifting, pulling, pushing etc. For beginners – lying on your back and doing pelvic tilts is highly effective in strengthening this area.

Remember to mix up your ab exercises so all muscles get targeted. The strongest abs are those strengthened from the inside out. And finally, even if you’re an advanced “Abs-Master”, if you have a layer (or more) of fat covering them, that 6 pack will just be a hidden treasure; so don’t forget cardio and good nutrition too.

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Author: tammyjuco

Motivating and assisting you and your family to a healthier and happier lifestyle.


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