Muscles of the Body Series: Vol: 1
There are 11 major muscle groups that aid the body in movement.
In this series I will define & focus on each of them one at a time, outlining their location & their function.
I will also explain ideal exercises & routines to help stretch & strengthen these important muscular groups.
The first muscular group we will focus on presents both a trouble-zone &, once defined, a point of pride for both men & women: the abdominal area.
Reduce body fat & increase muscle tone & you will eventually produce a six-pack, or if you’re genetically lucky, an eight pack.
HealthWealth Principle Eleven:
“I Consciously Use Core Strength”
Form & Function…
The abdominal muscles are located around the mid-section of the torso, which girdle under your trunk & pelvis.
They are considered part of your ‘core muscles’ & therefore play a big role in all of your bodily movements.
The function of the abdominals is to help with sitting up, twisting, turning & postural alignment.
These muscles are extremely important when supporting your spine (think lower back especially) while playing a sport or working out.
Benefits of a Strengthened Abdominal Area…
According to Harvard Health Publications, the abdominal muscles have an unlimited number of real-world applications. These include:
- Everyday Movements: From sitting, to standing, walking, bending & just performing your daily routines.
- At Work Movements: Lifting, bending, even sitting at a desk, you will still need to engage your core muscles.
- A Healthy Back: While your abs control the front & sides of the core, it all wraps around to your back which counter with the front & help with full & fluid movements.
- Sports & Activities: You may be thinking about your arms & legs, hands & feet when engaging in sports but none of that running, kicking, diving, or catching would be possible if your ab muscles are not helping to control the entire body & keep all the movements timely & organised.
- Balance & Stability: Once again, being located at the centre of your body, these muscles are used to centre your entire system & keep you balanced & on your feet.
- Good Posture: The abdominal muscles are engaged when standing upright & keeping your posture straight & correct.
According to health.harvard.edu you should think of your core muscles as the links of a chain.
No matter what type of movement you make, motion ripples up & down the links of the chain.
Thinking of the abdominal muscles in this fashion, you can see how all movement can be benefited by a strengthened group of ab muscles.
Your abdominal muscles should fire 0.1 seconds before any movement of your limbs. Think about how this happens automatically (without you being aware of it) & how it supports your spine. Now that’s impressive.
Probably the most well known abdominal exercise. Sit ups engage the core muscles to lift the upper body off the ground & into a sitting position.
Caution: If you suffer with back pain this may increase issues with the lumbar discs so best to avoid this particular movement. I will show you alternatives over time, as you read my messages & follow my social media sharings.
- Leg Lifts:
While leg lifts may seem more for exercising the leg muscles, you must actually first engage your core muscles to be able to stabilise your spine & fully lift & extend your legs.
If this causes pain then your abdominal muscles are likely not strong enough to stabilise your back at this leg shape – try bending your knees more, the straighter your legs the more challenging the movement.
- Straight Arm Pulldowns:
This movement has been shown to recruit the abdominals more than a crunch. It is also safer on the lower back as there is less flexion (bending forward motion).
Check out my Instagram account for an image & workout idea using this movement.
Stay tuned as I will keep sharing exercises with you.
The Bottom Line…
At the end of the day, it is obvious that the abdominal muscles play a major role in your overall health & wellness. From protection of your spine (your lower back for example) to improved sporting performance to better aesthetics (a six or eight pack).
It is important to watch your diet & increase your abdominal exercises wisely in order to benefit so that they may continue to serve you in all of your daily activities.
When your abdominal exercises are focused you are insuring an improved performance & prevention of injury.
Knowledge is power. Applied knowledge is ultimate power. Be wise with your choice of movements.
Until we speak again…
To Your Best Health
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