VIEWS: 5 PAGES: 2 POSTED ON: 1/19/2011
? Much fuss is made about abdominal muscles these days, usually for their aesthetic value. A "sixpack" is the envy of every guy on the beach. There is a huge health benefit to having strong abdominals as well. You need strong abdominals and back muscles to fight low back pain. Together these are often referred to as core muscle groups. Lets take a look at the abdominals. There are four sets of muscles in the abdominal group. The rectus abdominus is what most people think of when they talk about six-pack abs. This muscle provides strength for bending over at the waist and bringing the knees up toward your chin. It also works against the erector spinae group which surround your spinal column and keep you upright. These muscle groups work together to keep your body from folding forward or backward. If these muscles are in balance, there is less back pain. The transverse abdominus is the muscle that really keeps everything held in, like a girdle, if you want to look at it that way. This muscle aids in some movement but its primary function is to keep your belly from hanging out. The other abdominal muscles come in pairs. The inner and outer obliques are responsible for twisting our torso. For each of these muscles there is an antagonist that performs the opposite action. The abdominals are some of the strongest muscles in the human body, constantly working to keep the body upright. Why doesn't everybody have "six-packs" then, if the abs are so strong? Because most of us have a layer of fat covering our abs. Therefore the first thing we have to do to accomplish the look we desire is to get rid of all belly fat. Guys predominantly carry our fat around our waist, while women gain more in their hips. The next thing we need to do is to train the whole abdominal group, not just the rectus abdominus. That means all of the abdominals. the back muscles have to be trained as well. Without training the dorsal (back) muscles as well as the abdominals we will put extra pressure on our back muscles and create more and further pain. The entire core needs to be in balance for the body to be healthy, which is what we should truly be striving for. The transverse abdominus is both the easiest and hardest of the group to train. The fact that it doesn't require much effort makes it easy. We just have to pull our belly in. To train it, exhale as much air as you can, then suck air back in, pulling your belly in with it. Hold for a moment, then repeat. That's all there is to it! The obliques are easy as well. Take a broom and hold it across your shoulders resting your hands on top of it. Standing with good posture, twist your torso as far as you can in one direction. Dont rush the motion. Hold the twist for a moment, then come back to center, slowly. Now repeat the motion in the other direction. Then lean as far toward one side as you can. Come back up and lean the other direction. Don't forget to take it slowly, resisting the urge to bounce back and forth. Finally, the rectus abdominus is trained through two basic exercises. Everybody knows how to do crunches, or at least they think they do. You will get more out of them, again, if you approach them slowly, concentrating throughout the exercise on keeping your back straight. This can be done on the ground, but for better balance and results try it on an exercise ball. The other exercise is to suspend your body, either from a chin-up bar or by bracing on your elbows with your feet off the ground, then raise your knees slowly toward your chest. Be sure you hold in the middle on all these exercises. If you read the exercise manuals, they will all tell you to keep your belly pulled in while you do these exercises. This trains the transverse abdominus while training the other muscles as well. There are many more exercises for the back muscles and many more for the abs as well. I have included just the bare minimum. I have concentrated on the abs because there seems to be such a mystery to them. Another time I will tackle the back muscles as well. To sum up, there is much more to getting that "six-pack" than training the abdominals. Losing the fat is also important. You probably didn't put it there overnight, so don't expect it to go away that fast. But be persistent, change your eating habits, and work those abs, you will get there eventually, you will look better, and, as an added bonus, you will reduce the occurrence of lower back pain. Dont put it off. The gym's waiting. Good luck!
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