The abdominal musculature usually has a phasic character, that is to say, it is usually with lack of muscular tone.
This is due to the fact that it is not requested in our daily life and is not involved in muscular actions, above all because of sedentary work.
If we add to this the fact that its antagonist (lumbar musculature) usually has an excessive tone, it leads to decompensation in the pelvic and lumbar region which will lead to postural problems such as: anteversion and antepulsion of the hip, hyperlordosis, sciatic problems, herniated discs and lumbar overloads.
In order to correctly train the abdominals, it is necessary to know how this complex muscular group works.
Therefore, before starting any abdominal routine, we recommend that you read the following lines on abdominal training carefully.
What Is Our Abdomen Good For?
The abs acts as a trunk fixator and stabilizer in a large number of movements
The musculature of the trunk represents the center of your strength and your physical power. In efforts where we lift and push resistances, it maintains the spine as a solid base, allowing you to transfer all your strength to the arms and legs to make the effort.
It acts as a “natural girdle”, intervening in the maintenance of the posture.
Maintains correct body alignment. This entails a series of benefits among which stand out a greater effectiveness of the exercise, increasing the performance and diminishing the risk of injury in addition to providing stability to the dorsal-lumbar spine and keeping the abdominal viscera in place.
Avoid muscle imbalances
In the majority of the population the posterior zone of the trunk (lumbar) is with excess of tone, since they are muscles that intervene in any gesture and in the maintenance of the posture, whereas the zone of the abdomen this with lack of tone.
This situation causes muscular decompensation and degenerative pathologies of the spine such as lordosis, scoliosis, etc. appear.
Protection of internal organs
The muscles of the abdomen support and protect the internal organs. It is the only defense in this area, as it is devoid of bone structure.
Therefore, it is essential to have strong abdominals in athletes who have to protect this area from impacts such as boxers, martial arts, etc..
They are involved in intra-abdominal breathing and pressure.
When we make a deep exhalation (releasing the air), the respiratory and abdominal muscles act by exerting the necessary pressure to expel the air from the lungs.
They improve the figure
Without a doubt the middle zone is the part of the body that most helps to enhance the figure, we can have strong arms or slender legs, but it is useless if we have that “tummy” or a belly bulging and without form.
Symbol of good shape
Just as biceps has always been identified as a symbol of strength, the middle zone is identified as the reflection of a good state of form.
If you have good, well-defined abdominals, there is no doubt that the rest of your body will be up to the task.
Abdominal Work Order
The muscles of the abdomen are tremendously synergistic with each other, that is to say, that in the actions of movement of the trunk itself, they usually interact with each other and not only the action is due to the protagonism of a single muscle.
By choosing the appropriate exercises we can give more emphasis to one area or another, or to one muscle more than another, but we will never be able to isolate a particular muscular belly.
The upper area of the rectum of the abdomen is the most synergistic, that is, it intervenes whenever we work the abdominal area, on the contrary, the lower area of the abdomen, is very little requested.
According to these conclusions, it is logical to start working in those areas that work less or intervene, and to leave for the final part the most synergistic areas, which are those that will always be present.
The work order
At the beginning of the training session we should give more emphasis to the lower zone and as we choose other exercises give more prominence to the upper zone.
If we do the opposite and we start with exercises for the upper zone, when we try to involve the rest of the musculature the upper zone will be exhausted and will not be able to perform its function of fixation and stabilization, with which the exercise technique will be affected and we will not locate the work in the desired muscle, transmitting efforts and overloads to other areas of the trunk such as the lumbar or cervical zone, which can cause injuries.
The work order should then be as follows:
- Lower rectal area of the abdomen
- Upper rectum of the abdomen
In spite of everything, and to add variety to the training, some day of your abdominal routine (for example every 3 workouts) you can change the order of the exercises, this will surprise them.
How to train the abdomen for maximum results
The training of the abdominals requires a very specific technique that we must respect.
If you look at the majority of people who work them in the gym, you will see that they are done reluctantly, without concentration and with bad postures. Here you will discover the universal guidelines of abdominal training.
If you follow them constantly and follow a clean diet you will have good abdominal muscles. Guaranteed.
- A correct posture will increase the effectiveness and safety of the exercise.
- The head must be relaxed so as not to force the muscles of the neck, for this, the look will be kept at an angle of 45 º, looking up and forward, with the chin separated from the body.
- Hands should be placed behind the head and never behind the nape of the neck or touching the temple. We should be aware that the weight of it rests on our hands.
- The arms should be with the elbows bent and separated and not closed when going up.
- During the execution, the abdomen should not be raised or bulging, it should be compressed, pushing it inwards.
- At the end of each repetition, the lumbar area must always remain in contact with the floor.
- If it arches, getting up and detaching from the floor is that the abdomen does not have the strength to fix it, at this moment we must stop.
- In the Curl-up (classic abdominals), we will only elevate the trunk about 45º, while the legs will remain with the knees bent, thus avoiding that the lumbar zone arches.
Use an adequate speed
Except for the power exercises, the speed in the rest of the exercises should always be constant and paused. We should never make movements with inertia, swings or rebounds.
Always perform the phase called “negative” or downward movement, slower than the “positive” or upward movement. If we are not able to control this speed of execution, we are not localizing the exercise in the abdomen and we must stop.
If we want to achieve maximum contraction and locate the muscles of the abdomen we must coordinate breathing; in the positive phase (against gravity, when contraction occurs) air must be expelled through the mouth, and in the negative phase (in favour of gravity) air must be picked up through the nose.
Never increase the volume or intensity in sacrifice of the technique.
Keep in mind that “quality is more important than quantity”. It is much better to do few well-executed and localized exercises than to do many without locating them and involving other muscle groups.
Be aware of the muscles that act
Many of the problems when doing the exercises are caused by not “feeling the movement”. It is important to know which muscle is acting and what action it causes.
Working the antagonist muscles
In the case of abdominal musculature, the antagonist is the lumbar musculature.
Normally this musculature is already sufficiently toned, due to the fact that it is very postural and I took part in other exercises.
Therefore it does not need a high level of load but it is convenient to work it in a specific way, especially when the level of training is also increasing.
Exercises such as “Good morning”, “Dead weight” or “Hyperextensions” are great for working the lower back.
Do not overtrain them
The abdomen is like another muscle, it can also become overtrained. It is not recommended to exceed three abdominal sessions a week except for very specialized programs and let the muscle rest properly.
Strength, endurance or power work?
If what we want is to achieve good muscle tone, we will work on strength-resistance; high repetitions and little resistance.
If we practice a strength sport such as weightlifting, judo, etc., or seek muscle development, it is advisable to train strength, high intensity through machines, pulleys or other means and moderate repetitions.
While if we intend to improve power as in the case of gestures of explosive force, boxing, pitching, gymnastics, etc., it is necessary to work the power, involve speed.
With moderate weights to carry out explosive movements; with medicinal balls, companions, bars, etc.
Other Abdominal Training Articles
In this article we have the necessary information for you to get a strong and toned abs but you should also read the following articles on my blog.