Abdominal Exercise Explained
I’ve already lost 8 inches from my waist through weight loss and an abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) surgery. My goal is to lose an additional 4 inches from my waist. So, I am in search of the best exercises for developing flat, tight abdominal muscles. While many solutions claim to sculpt and strengthen the abdominal muscles, some are ineffective and may even increase your risk of injury.
Thus far, I like this isometric contraction called stomach vacuuming, which work the deep transversus abdominis muscle of the abdomen. Isometric contraction enables you to keep good form with each abdominal exercise. The claims are pretty inspiring, lose 2-4 inches in three months. I’ll let you know if it works for me.
Abdominal Muscles – What They are and How They Work
It's important to understand the function of your abdominal muscles so as to avoid being duped by unproven and misleading abdominal exercise claims. Next we will explore each of the abdominal muscles, including where they are and what they do.
There are several layers of muscles in the abdomen:
Rectus Abdominis is the most prominent abdominal muscle. It extends from the ribs vertically to the pubis and is responsible for the washboard abs of very fit athletes.
External Oblique abdominal muscles are a pair of muscles that run along each side of the rectus abdominis. The muscle fibers run diagonally downward and inward from the lower ribs to the pelvis, forming the letter V and allow compression of the abdomen.
Internal Oblique abdominal muscles are a pair of deep muscles that are just below the external oblique muscles. The internal and external obliques are at right angles to each other. The lower muscle fibers of the internal obliques run nearly horizontally and allow compression of the abdomen.
Transversus Abdominis are the deepest layer of the abdominal muscles and wrap around the torso from front to back and from the ribs to the pelvis. The muscle fibers of the transversus abdominis run horizontally, similar to a corset or a weight belt.
Now that you have an understanding of the abdominal muscles, let’s explore how best to exercise them for a smaller waist.
Best and Worst Abdominal Exercises for a Smaller Waist
Many abdominal exercises actually work the hip flexors more than the abs. The hip flexors are strong powerful muscles that bring the legs and trunk together and often overtake the abdominal muscles in some alleged ab exercises. To achieve a smaller waist, you must isolate the abdominal muscles during exercise and minimize the involvement of the hip flexors and maximize the contraction of the abdominals. This is where the isometric contraction stomach vacuuming that I mentioned earlier in this article can help.
An example of an alleged ab exercise that focuses on the hip flexors is the full sit-up, especially when the feet are held down. Another example of an ab exercise that works the hip flexors is any leg-raising exercise done in a supine (laying face up) position.
The best way to isolate the abdominal muscles is to minimize the involvement of the hip flexors during your ab workout. In subsequent articles I will explore some of the best abdominal exercises for a smaller waist. And now that you understand how the abdominal muscles work, you may design your own workouts to achieve a smaller waist.
For now, let’s get started with the stomach vacuum. Read: Get a Smaller Waist with Isometric Stomach Contractions.
Living life well-fed,
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Published On: August 23, 2013