If you ask just about any trainee what muscle group they would most like to develop, chances are, they’ll say their abs. For numerous anthropological reasons, a well developed mid-section is the goal of almost everyone who works out. The problem is that many people try to build a six pack using ineffectual exercises and while paying little or no attention to their diet. The thing is that abs are actually made in the kitchen! Right now, you have a good if not great six pack. It’s just hiding away under a thick layer of adipose tissue – that’s fat to you and me.
You need to trim the fat to see those abs! This means, if you aspire to a six pack, you need to get your diet sorted. We’ve addressed dieting for fat loss in a few of our articles (such as Carb Cycling, The Carbs guide, Intermittent Fasting ) so We won’t waste your valuable reading time rehashing all that information here. Instead, We want to focus on providing you with a well rounded (pun intended) ab routine so that, when you finally drop your body fat levels low enough, you’ll have an aesthetically pleasing and functionally strong midsection.
If you ask a not-so-smart trainer how to develop your core muscles, chances are, he/she will give you a bunch of exercises that target your rectus abdominus, located on the front of your abdomen. While this muscle is the main contributor to the six pack we all seek, it is only one of many muscles what make up your core. Training the rectus abdominus only is like having a blind belief that the world is flat or that there is only one dimension. Dumb, dumb, DUMB!
Despite what many people thing, your core is far more than just one set of muscles and is responsible for a whole lot more then bending your spine forwards in a crunch-like movement. Other muscles in this region include the internal, external and transverse obliques, the erector spinae, transverse abdominus and quadratus lumborum. You don’t need to know where or what these muscles are – I’ll make sure you work them all – but it’s worth knowing that crunches and their ilk only work one muscle on this list…
Your core muscles control your spine and your spine is capable of a wide number of movements. This means that, to effectively train all of your core musculature, you need to perform a wide variety of movements and therefore exercises. I have classified these movements in the chart below…
|Movement||Main Muscle||Example Exercise|
|Flexion – upper||Rectus abdominus||Crunches|
|Flexion – lower||Rectus abdominus||Reverse crunches|
|Lateral flexion||Rectus abdominus, obliques, erector spinae, quadratus lumborum||Dumbbell side bends|
|Extension||Erector spinae||Prone back extensions|
|Rotation||Obliques||Cable Russian twists|
|Bracing||Rectus abdominus, transverse abdominus||Planks|
It’s worth noting that some of the movements can be combined, for example, flexion – upper and rotation can be combined by performing crunches with a twist although this is actually an ineffectual exercise….