Abdominal Exercises

Ab Training Season by strength coach Jamie Hale

It is that time of year again. Ab Season has arrived. As warm weather approaches people from around the world rush to gyms in quest of the ultimate six pack. Most of them have no concern in developing other body parts. They just care about developing those rippling abs. “I just want to concentrate on toning my abs”. If I had a dime for every time I have heard that statement I would be a billionaire. In the following article I would like to discuss the role the abs play in movement and dispel some of the myths surrounding abdominal training.

The abdominals consist of the rectus abdominus, Internal and external obliques, and Transverse abdominus. The primary role of the rectus abdominus is trunk flexion. Trunk flexion occurs when the sternum approaches the pelvis. The obliques form the middle layer of the abdominal wall. They are involved in trunk flexion and rotation(crunches and Russian twists). The deepest layers of the abdominal wall are called the transverse abdominus. These muscles serve as one of the primary respiratory muscles. The abdominals are constantly activated as they stabilize the torso during most movements. Some coaches say as ab strength increases total body strength will also increase.

Abdominal and Trunk Exercise Facts:

  • Straight leg crunches greatly inhibit hip flexor stimulation.
  • High rep ab training has minimal effects of strengthening the abs.
  • Hanging leg raises or knee raises are a poor abdominal movement.
  • Do not neglect training the lower back – Lower backs are weak generally because they are not exercised not because of weak abs.
  • Lumbar stress and hip flexor activity increase when the legs are held or anchored.
  • Beyond 30 degrees above horizontal the abdominals become less active as the hip flexors become prime movers.
  • Ab training does not reduce fat around the waist line.
  • Maximal sit-up repetitions are a test of hip flexor endurance.
  • Leg throw downs can produce a large torque on the hips and great stress on the lumbar region.
  • Side bends activate the side flexors (quadratus lumborum).
  • Sit-ups tend to be safer when performed in a slow manner.
  • Sucking in the abs does not enhance the quality of ab training.
  • Do not train the abs everyday!
  • To strengthen the abs add resistance
  • The abs are predominantly slow twitch fiber. They can usually be trained more often than most other bodyparts.
  • The abdominals are one bodypart, do not neglect the remainder of the body.
  • Low bodyfat levels determine the definition of the abs.

The overwhelming majority of ab infomercial devices are ineffective. It is important to train the abdominal region, but it is just as important to train the lower back. Learn about the :: Abmat ::

References:
Hale, J, P(2000) Optimum Physique. Jamie Hale Hale,J, P(2001) Real Strength Training for Boxers. www.halesoptimumphysique.com Siff, M, C,(2000) Facts and Fallacies of Fitness. Mel Siff. Staley,C,I,(1999) The Science of Martial Arts Training. Multi-Media Books. Copyright 2002 Jamie Hale

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