How to Train Abdominal Muscles
How to Train Abdominal Muscles
I have so many friends who have lost weight but complain of flabby belly. Whenever, I get online on any chat, I get atleast one message for sure saying, ”Rest is all fine, how do I reduce my tummy?”. Any of my relative, I meet these days also come to the same point after some spurts of conversation ‘Bas pet kam karne ka bata de’. The fact is that toning up the belly is the most desirable and most difficult thing for everyone. As a matter of fact, this tummy loss industry is a million dollar industry, which every year, sells gadgets, supplements, surgeries and promises worth crores. Sauna slim belt, tummy tucks and blah blahh.. The questions are.. Do we get anything by putting our money on these promises? do we understand our abs muscles? Do we train them properly? Do we feed them properly?..
Before I hop on to dissect the anatomy of abdominal muscles, I would like to say that it is the tendency of human body to deposit fat around the lower abdominal. There are very few people who have flat tummy. Such people are genetically blessed or they use some supplements, which are unhealthy in the long run or they have trained hard (read correctly) plus have followed proper diet Basically, maintaining flat abs 365 days, 24X7, is no mean task, even for katrina kaif. So chill, it is normal not to have washboard abs all the time
However, we can strive to maintain flat abs by understanding our abs and by understanding the right way to train our abs.
Our abs is essentially composed of 4 muscles. Rectus abdominis, external oblique, internal oblique and transverse abdominis. Check out the diagram, to know the location of the 4 muscles
The straight muscle, which has four muscle bellies is the rectus abdominis. 3 muscular bands pass over this muscle, making 8 muscular bellies, which are known as the famous 8 packs. Yes, we can have 8 packs. But it is really tough to get the lower two packs so generally it is the 6 packs that fitness enthusiasts aim for. This muscle help us flex the spine or help us do a crunching motion.
The muscle which runs in the direction of our hand placed in our pant’s pocket is called the external oblique muscle. This muscles help us do the twisting motion.
The muscle which runs in the direction opposite to that of the external oblique muscle is called the internal oblique muscle. It is a deeper muscle, situated under the external oblique. This muscle also helps in the twisting motion.
The deepest muscle is the transverse abdominis. The muscles which runs around our lower abdominal like a band. It holds the spine and the internal organs. This is the muscle that gets contracted in kapalbhatti pranayam.
Most of us think that we can get flat abs by doing crores of crunches. This is a big myth. Let us know the reason. Look at the crunching moment, it is the flexion of the spine, during which only rectus abdominis gets contracted.
In crunching, there is no twisting motion or motion of the lower abdomen. Which means that the other 3 muscles are not worked out during a crunch. Moreover, the other 3 muscles are the most important abs muscles as they are the deeper muscles. Going by this logic, how could we expect crunches to do any magic to the abs? Heyiee Gottcha?
second thing is that people who do a lot of crunches often complain of back pain. Why is that? As I mentioned in my article on sports injuries that every joint has a core. . If we workout only one core muscle of any joint then it increases the chances of injury of that joint as well as weakens the other muscles. The core of spine are the abs and the back muscles. So you see if you are someone who feels happy after doing crunches and say that today I did ab workout then please note that you simultaneously sent an invitation to back muscle pain and spinal injury. On the other hand, if you train both the abs (all four of them) and the back muscles equally then you have earned a strong spine, which will give you an amazing posture and an amazing strength to hold your organs strongly.
For the real magic, we need to consider the above two points, while training our abs. To revise: a) train all 4 ab muscles 2) train back muscles. Follow the below points.
1. Do twisting crunches instead of crunches i.e do a saw. This will work rectus and obliques along with the rectus
2. Brace your lower abs, when you do your crunches. This will engage the deepest abs muscle, the transverse abdominis.
3. The crunching and twisting action should come from the strength of our abs not from our neck or shoulders. Even if w are able to rise to a small distance, we have to just make sure that the strength comes from the abs. Gradually as the strength develops, the distance will increase.
4. Do stabilization exercises. These exercises engage the deepest abdominal muscles. These exercises actually hit the core. The best examples to understand the stabilization exercise is the plank and the naukaasana. When you do a plank, you are not visibly contracting/changing the length of any muscle. The way you do it in a crunch or in a twist. You are just holding stable in one position, engaging your deepest core muscles that are attached to your spine so that you can stabilize your body. This is the real challenge for abs!! so if we do a saw on the swiss ball then we target all the abs muscles. I hope you got my point?
Other ways are suppose you do a chin up then go up, hold for sometime and then come back. or you do a squat then go down, brace your abs, hold for sometime and then come back on the strength of your abs-not legs.. Try this!
5. Do interval training. Do spurts of high intensity activity, take rest then high intensity again. This shocks the body. And is the best type of cardio for fat burning esp for the stubborn ab fat. So if you are a run person then walk, run, sprint and repeat. You can do HIIT, tabata etc
I will write on the difference between HIIT, tabata, fartlek in a separate post.
6. Take care of what you eat. This is the non negotiable part to get the washboard abs. Wake up and eat something. eat small meals every two hours. By small I mean small, this may also mean that you may feel hungry after the meal but know that you have another small meal coming up in the next 2 hours. And slowly let your body get accustomed to eating small meals. Soon you won’t feel hungry. This practice develops uber metabolism. Your own body will become an uner fat burner. Better fat burner than green tea or protein shakes
Have a balanced diet. Stop beating about proteins. Everything is important. any diet lacking in the most basic mineral can throw the entire system off the track so eat simple things at home.
7. Stay hydrated. Water is not just for quenching thirst. It is also for stabilizing blood sugar and salt levels.
All these things followed like a religion even for 2 weeks will give you or will atleast get you closer to the dream abs! Tell your trainer these points and ask him to design a workout plan for you accordingly. Let him/her also scratch some of their mind.
This is the time, enough of asking ‘pet kaise kam karen’ I have told you.. Now your turn to go and hit it!.. will you? :)
Also request you to get your questions rolling on the FORUM or on the FB page.
Cyaa.. Love Loads
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