Who Doesn’t Want FIRM ABS???
Having firm abs is the ultimate goal to “show” you are fit. But there are so many other benefits to having firm abs besides the ripped core you can show off. By the way, you don’t have to have a six-pack to have firm abs. Achieving the elusive “six-pack” really comes down to how much body fat is covering your abdominals. Believe it or not….we ALL have a six-pack of abs it just might be under a couple layers 😉
Let me dispel some FIRM AB Myths!
- The abdominal muscles ALL work together.
- There are NO “upper” & “lower” abs. You CAN try to focus in on where you “feel” the exercise but you really can’t isolate the abdominal muscles individually.
- You will NOT get a six-pack of abs by doing a gazillion ab exercises if you are not focused on losing body fat. Does that mean skip ab exercises? Absolutely not! There are many benefits to strengthening your core and getting firm abs.
- Typically, you will not see ab definition in a female unless they are below 18% body fat and that depends on where they carry their body fat (if your primary fat storage area is your stomach, you may not see definition until around 10% body fat).
The Abdominal Muscles
The abdominals are made up of four muscles:
- Rectus Abdominis
- External Obliques
- Internal Obliques
- Transverse Abdominis
Rectus Abdominis is the abdominal muscle which runs up and down your torso. The rectus abdominis attaches at the rib cage and runs down into the lower part of the pelvis. This muscle contracts strongly when performing sit-ups or leg lifts. Examples of abdominal exercises are sit-up, leg lifts and for a reverse contraction, a pelvic tilt.
External Obliques attach from the lower portion of rib cage and down into the pelvis. These muscles run in a diagonal fashion across your core. The external obliques allow you to bend to the side and twist to the opposite side of your torso. If you were to position your hands like you are reaching into your pockets, that is the direction of the muscle fibers of the external obliques. Examples of exercises for the external obliques would be bicycle crunches.
Internal Obliques also attach from the lower portion of rib cage and down into the pelvis. These muscles also run in a diagonal fashion across your core. The internal obliques allow you to twist to the same side of your torso and assist in side bending. If you were to cross your arms over torso with finger tips down, this is the direction of the muscle fibers of the internal obliques. Examples of exercises for the internal obliques would be bicycle crunches and side crunches.
Transverse Abdominis is the deepest of the abdominal muscles and runs horizontally across the torso . Think of this muscle as your girdle or a corset. The goal of the transverse abdominis is to keep your organs inside and to help you stand up. A great example of a transverse abdominis exercise is the plank or simply pulling your stomach in.
Why should you focus on firm abs??
Your core is what keeps everything together….your center of gravity, your pelvic girdle…
Having firm abs will:
- Help keep your back strong
- Help you have better posture
- May prevent back problems in your future.
Here are some exercise videos to firm abs (remember if your body fat isn’t low enough you will not see as much definition).
When performing the Up, Up, Down, Down exercise be gentle on those forearms and please read my Trainer Tips in the description.
If you are a beginner, start with the modified version on your knees and work up to the more advanced option (on your toes).
Since 2006, Nicole Simonin has been a Certified Personal Trainer and owner of Shape It Up, LLC. Nicole is recognized for her well-rounded approach to fitness. Through private and online personal training, Nicole motivates, educates and inspires women to get fit and healthy. Her passion is to empower busy women to not only get fit but to be fierce in life and have no limits as to what can be accomplished. Click here to hire Nicole as your personal trainer.