Monday, November 13, 2006

Training the Abdominals….Properly

Let’s first define (no pun intended) the abdominal area. The abdominals are made up of four muscle groups; the rectus abdominus, the obliques (internal and external), the serratus and intercostal muscles. The rectus abdominus is the row of washboard-like muscles in the center of your midsection and is one flat muscle; therefore there is no upper and lower abs. There is a lower and upper section of the abdominal area, but it is all one muscle. The obliques, referred to by some as “Love Handles”, are located on the sides of your waist.

The abdominals, better known as the “Abs” are a muscle group that everyone wants to develop, but most go about it incorrectly. Some of the misconceptions and unproductive applications are training the abs daily, the use of high repetitions/sets, the concept of “spot reducing” the area (or any area) along with a host of countless gadgets and myths about training the abdominals. The abdominals are a muscle and should be trained as such. You want to develop muscle in that area and repeatedly imposing a direct workload on the area is not going to give you the muscularity you are hoping for, in fact it’s counter productive. What you are basically doing is over training the muscle by tearing down the muscle tissue and not allowing it to repair itself to develop. Careful and proper application of direct abdominal work done with moderate repetitions/sets on an infrequent basis, focusing on progression, along with a reduction in body fat levels will give you the tight abdominals you are hoping for.

So if you are doing crunches every day, countless reps and sets or using an Ab roller or some other device you bought from a Saturday morning infomercial, STOP before you injure your lower back and/or waste (or is that waist) more time. Learn to exercise properly and efficiently, clean up your diet and you’ll be proud to expose that newly defined set of abs when summer time rolls around.


Fred Fornicola