Let's be honest. We all want at least some form of Ab definition. Let me try and help!
I won’t get too jargony now. Nice and simple here.
The stomach muscles are made up of 4 muscles. Understanding how they work will help you develop and find them:
Rectus Abdominus (Abs): These are the juicy ones you see on men on the front of the magazines. The 6-pack. These flex the spine.
Transverse Abdominus (TVA): Maybe you’ve heard the term in a Pilates class? These are trunk stabilisers. Think improved posture. Less lower back pain.
Internal & External Obliques: These are the horizontal lines you see on really lean people, located on the side of their bodies. These are the rotation muscles.
So How Do We Work Them all?
Below, I’ll link a super simple workout for you to add to your weekly routine, but first I want to quickly cover exactly how to work your stomach muscles.
When I run my group exercise classes I usually end on a core routine. Usually, a 5-7 minute blitz before we start stretching down. I’d say 90% of the time, I will be the first one to stop because it hurts so god-damn much.
A lot of people in my classes find it hard to even engage their abs to perform a plank or a crunch. But why?
As a society, we sit a lot, we usually eat foods that bloat us, and generally, we don’t need to use our stomach muscles as much any more. Imagine 10 thousand years ago. Early man would have been hunting, foraging, walking. Now they needed abs!
In the New Year I'll be releasing a Free E-book guide to help reduce your body fat, with a nutrition plan. You'll notice there's no mention of gluten or dairy. (YAY Freebies!)
Both diary and gluten can cause pretty-bad bloating in most people. So I’ve axed them. But only for that reason. These foods can be integrated if you really can’t live without them, but I’d highly recommend monitoring your intake.
Does this day sound familiar?
Cereal with milk for breakfast. Sandwich for lunch. Pasta for dinner.
That’s a pretty common diet right? Every meal contains high levels of gluten. That’s a lot of bloat.
Try eating a bowl of cereal then perform a plank. The second you bloat. Your abs switch off. No activation.
If you can’t feel your stomach working... It's not!
How Can You Wake Them Up?
Let’s help engage your stomach muscles.
Lye on your back with your legs in the air. Lift your bum about a centimetre, and slide your hands under - palms down. You want your lower back to be dead flat on the floor, keep re-arranging your hard so your backs cemented to the floor.
Before you start the movement, imagine a dumbbell is about to fall from the ceiling and land on your stomach. Suck in your stomach a tad and squeeze. This is your starting position.
One leg at a time, slowly lower to the ground. Keeping your stomach braced at all times. You want to try and hit 10 reps, your feet stopping about water-bottle-height. 10 reps might be easy. So pause. Re-set your stomach and keep going. Always stopping after 10 reps to check your stomach is still engaged.
When performing I want you to think about your stomach muscles, this is called mind-to-muscle connection. By resting your hands on your stomach, you can help your brain engage these them!
Aim to complete 50 - 100 reps before starting this workout.
Let's Work your Stomach from Every Angle
Quick Description (You Might Not Need to Read this bit)
ABS: Crunches; Think about “peeling” off the ground and sitting up towards your knees, engaging your stomach during each rep. Each rep is beautifully controlled.
TVA: Bird dog; On all fours, with your shoulder blades over your wrist. Slowly lift your left arm and your right leg so you’re “pointing”. Hold for 2 seconds and return. Swapping sides after 15 reps. Perform these without arching your lower back, super slowly. These might not be “sexy” and produce the same burn as a crunch, but these are essential for decreasing back pain and tightening your waist.
OBLIQUES: Bicycle Crunches; A bit of coordination here I’m afraid. Lye on your back with your knees at a 90 degree angle. With your hands on your temple rotate towards your opposite knee, kicking your other leg out straight as you do so. I want these slow, none of that erratic kicking please.
Complete Core Workout
Single-leg Raises 5x10
Crunches x 20
Birdbog x 30
Bicycle Crunches x 60
Try and complete the whole sequence at least 3 times a week
Pause when you need to, remember; form always comes first. It’s better to reset than lose control of your movement so your back and hip flexors just do all the work. Be patient.
One Last Note
Abs are a bi-product of strength. Strong people have abs, they might be covered by a layer of fat. But they're there. To really develop your stomach muscles and drop your body fat to be able to see them, get yourself a good weight training plan and download my Free nutrition e-book in the New Year!
I really hope this helped answer a few queries I've received regarding Ab training recently. I'm only an email away if you have any more questions. Email Me