Abdominal Muscles Basics
The abdominal muscles, commonly known as the Abs, are composed of three muscle groups. These three groups of muscles are located at the middle section of the body below the rib cage and above the pelvic bone. These three muscle groups are the Rectus Abdominus, the Transverse Abdominus, and the Internal and External Oblique muscles. The muscle groups can be found at the front of the mid-section where the Rectus Abdominus group is, and at the sides of the mid-section where the Internal and External Oblique and the Transverse Abdominus muscles are. The major functions of these muscles are to stabilize and support the abdomen or the mid-section, to help the spine flex easily while doing bends or crunches, and to help the mid-section twist and rotate to the right and left.
Commonly, when people mention the word “Abs”, they are referring to the well-formed muscles seen in front of the mid-section and at its sides. These are actually the Rectus Abdominus and the Internal and External Oblique muscle groups. For body builders and people who are into sports, all of them will have well formed Rectus Abdominus and Internal and External Oblique Muscles. The Transverse Abdominus group, which are technically part of the group of muscles we can call “Abs”, are muscles that lie deep within the abdomen and are therefore not seen from the exterior (even if they are well formed).
Exercising the Core and Abdominals
What people commonly do to get six-pack abs is to do a lot of abdominal exercises that specifically work out the abdominal muscles. This is, in truth, a misconception. By doing too many abdominal exercises, a person can injure his/her neck, back, and other body parts. Furthermore, overdoing abdominal exercises can also cause a muscle imbalance in the mid-section of the body that may affect the lower and upper back, shoulders, and even legs which could lead to bad posture, hampered movements, and further injury. In addition to this, it would not look good if a person has six-pack abs and at the same time have flabby arms, legs and other body parts. The person certainly would look odd and not attractive at all.
It is recommended that a person should do exercises that target not just the abdominal muscles but muscle groups near and surrounding the mid-section as well. The abdominal muscles and the other muscles which are in its surrounding area are collectively called the core or core muscle groups. These muscle groups help in maintaining stability of the body, good posture for the spine, and enabling movement of the head, arms, and legs. The easiest way to determine what the core muscles are is by imagining the body without the head, arms, and legs. The muscles remaining in that sectioned area are the core muscles. The core muscle group is composed of both superficial and deep-lying muscles from the lower and upper back, the chest, the spine, and the abdominal area.
During exercise sessions, it is recommended that a person does exercises that target not only the big muscle groups but the deep-lying smaller group of muscles as well. Most of the deep-lying muscles in the core or body are mainly involved in stability and posture. Deep-lying muscles in the spine area help maintain the posture and stability of the spine. The abdominal group of muscles and the lower back muscles, namely the Rectus Abdominus, Internal and External Obliques, and the Transverse Abdominus also help in posture and stabilizing the spine. The upper back muscles which contain both deep-lying and superficial big muscle groups help support the spine and maintain the posture, stability and movement of the neck and head. The chest muscles, on the other hand, have both deep-lying and superficial muscles which help in the stability and movement of the body and arms.
Not Just Exercise but Also Diet
Aside from exercising, another important thing to do to attain the abs you desire, is to eat a proper diet. This is not done by not eating for a certain period of time during the day or not eating proper meals. Having a proper diet means watching what you eat and at the same time eating food properly and wisely. This is done by eating the right amount of food with the proper and balanced amounts of protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals during every meal. In addition to proper amounts, you should also have a proper eating pattern or schedule and not eat whenever and wherever you feel like it.
Planning out what one eats as he or she regularly exercises will greatly affect the outcome of the workout of the person. It will also help the rate at which the person burns calories to attain the figure one desires. To provide an example, if you would like your body to become more bulky, you should take in more liquids and meat or any other protein-rich food in your meal portions. Meat will contribute to more protein for muscle formation. The liquid portion of the meal helps add volume to the meal and therefore lessening or controlling your intake of other food. At the same time, you should control the carbohydrate and fat intake without totally removing them from your meals.
Fruits are an additional food that you should take in so you can get more vitamins and minerals with enough sugar and carbohydrates for energy. If you want your body to become thinner, you should initially lessen the fat and carbohydrate intake of every meal but not totally remove them from your diet. Take in more water and alternative foods like fruits, breads, and crackers which have lower fat content and carbohydrates but have high fiber content, water, vitamins and minerals. These foods also have the protein you need to keep going with your rigorous exercise.
Exercises to Target the Mid-Section
The exercises involved in getting or attaining the abdominal figure you want require the combination of specific abdominal exercises, core exercise, and whole body exercises. Weight training exercises are also good to incorporate into your abdominal muscle-building regimen. Specific abdominal exercise such as crunches, modified crunches (crunches with legs vertically-raised or crunches with arms raised 45 degrees over the head), leg raises, sit ups, side or lateral crunches, lateral leg raises, standing leg raises, standing lateral leg raises, and hip raises are common exercises targeting the abdominal muscles. Core exercises such as planks (on elbows and toes), modified planks (on elbows and toes but using one opposite arm and one opposite leg), and lateral planks on each side are common core exercises that help the abdominals and core muscles.
Whole body exercises such as aerobics, aero-kick boxing, running, Yoga, tai chi, and Pilates are among the whole body exercise you can also do to help burn calories and for you to get those gorgeously toned abs. The use of weight training, weight training machines and other equipment are additional activities and methods to attain a well-formed body and abdominal area. The equipment usually has resistance which can help burn more calories because they require the person to exert a little more effort in pushing or pulling during the workout.