To Your Health
November, 2007 (Vol. 01, Issue 11)
A Total-Body Workout in 5 Easy Steps
Part 5: Abdominals
By Chelsea Cooper
If you didn't attain the elusive six-pack stomach in time for summer, don't give up yet. Get a complete abdominal workout with Chelsea Cooper, certified personal trainer, as she concludes her five-part series covering each of the major muscle zones.
The abdominal area is probably the most talked about area for both men and women, but it is one of the most difficult areas to define correctly and effectively. The abs consist of the rectus abdominis, external oblique, internal oblique and transverse abdominis.
The abdominal wall is made up of clusters of muscles separated by connective tissue. Ab exercises strengthen those clusters and burn off the surrounding fat. In extremely fit individuals, the clusters become visible, resulting in ridges or "washboard" abs. Your abs are a major component of your core, which is composed of the transversus abdominus, internal obliques, pelvic floor musculature, diaphragm, transversospinalis and multifidus. Researchers have found that individuals with chronic low back pain (85 percent of U.S. adults) have decreased use in these muscles.
Working the abdominals promotes good posture and assists with athletic activities such as swinging a golf club or tennis racket. Strengthening the abdominal muscles and focusing on correct posture can vastly improve your body's shape. Abs can be done daily, but if there is any soreness the next day, you may want to rest for a day. Enjoy your workout!
CORE EXERCISE TIP
All photographs taken at Club No Mercy Intensity Performance Training Studio (www.clubnomercy.com) in Huntington Beach, Calif.
As with any exercise regimen, the key to these abdominal exercises is doing them right. Before engaging in an ab routine, practice concentrated flexing of the transversus abdominus and the interior and exterior obliques - the large muscles holding the spine and organs in place in the abdomen.
The best way to get in touch with your abdominals is to pull your navel up and back toward your shoulder blades. Practice by sitting on a chair, isolating your shoulders and chest, pulling your navel up and back, and then releasing the muscles. Repeat 10 times and then as frequently as desired as you go about your day. This movement opens the neural pathways and helps the brain communicate with the muscle. You'll be astonished by the results you can achieve if you concentrate on keeping the muscles engaged during these exercises.
PRONE ISO ABS
1 Lie face down on the floor with your feet together and your forearms on the ground.
2 Clench your hands into fists and place them at shoulder level.
3 Squeeze your abs and glutes.
Hold position for 35 to 40 seconds.
4 Lift your entire body off the ground until it forms a straight line from head to toe, resting on your forearms and toes.
5 Slowly return your body to the ground, keeping your chin tucked and your back flat.
6 Hold the position for 35 to 40 seconds and repeat.
7 To regress, perform the exercise with your knees on the floor.