Whole Health

Everyone Needs Strong Abs (abdominal muscles)

Muscles Move Bones

Abdominal muscles help with breathing and keeping organs in place. They work together with the back muscles to support the spine for sitting, standing, bending over, etc.

Located between the ribs and the pelvis on the front of the body, abdominal muscles  include the transversus abdominis, rectus abdominis, internal oblique muscles, external oblique muscles. These muscles cover the internal organs and their purpose is:

  1. transversus abdominis – comprise the deepest muscle layer and function to stabilize the trunk.
  2. rectus abdominis  – located at the front of the pelvis, this large muscle makes up  the outer muscle layer (AKA the 6-pack). They work to bend the spine to the front / sideways.
  3. external oblique muscles – located on each side running diagonally from the lower ribs to the pelvis, enabling sideways bend and torso rotation.
  4. internal oblique muscles – wide muscle, located beneath the external oblique muscles on both sides of the body, just inside the hipbones. They work opposite to the external oblique muscles helping with side bend, spine rotation and breathing.

Strong abs help you to live your life to the fullest.  If you have a pre-existing injury or medical condition, consult with your doctor before performing new exercises.

Below are a few simple but effective abdominal exercises:

March with twist – Marching in place is a great way to warm up before exercising. Now, add a twist with slow high knees to the march:

  1. Stand with feet hip-width apart, shoulders down, arms overhead. Engage/contract your abs throughout the exercise.
  2. Bring right elbow to left knee, twisting through the waist.
  3. Return to starting position.
  4. Repeat on the other side.
  5. Continue to alternate sides for 1 minute.

Standing stabilization

  1. Stand with feet hip-width apart.
  2. Holding a medicine ball or dumbbell or appropriate household item with both hands, extend/straighten arms out in front of chest.
  3. Keeping arms straight and shoulders pressed down, rotate upper body to the right and then return to center.
  4. Then rotate upper body to the left.
  5. Alternate sides for 10 reps (repetitions) each, for a total of 20 reps.

Reverse chop

  1. Stand with feet hip-width apart.
  2. Hold a medicine ball or dumbbell or appropriate household item with both hands at chest height.
  3. Bending the knees and allowing the feet to pivot, lower the ball to the outside of your right foot.
  4. Return to standing by bringing the ball across the torso and up overhead to the left while engaging your abs / core.
  5. Do 10 reps, then switch sides.

To increase difficulty, increase the speed of the chop.

Warm up before exercising and cool down afterwards. Maintain good form and be sure to stretch afterwards to re-align the muscles.

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