5 Technical Tips for Tighter abs

In brief:

1: The muscles of the core are for posture and movement of the spine, not just for show. this means when you train the muscles you should train all of the various movements or train the core as a whole.

2: Learn how to Engage the core to make your exercises more effective.

3: effective ab training to improve appearance is a form of bodybuilding and so certain protocols should be followed to ensure success.

4: No amount of ab curls and trunk rotations will make up for a poor diet. its the most important factor.

5: More is not better, practice quality over quantity and ensure you actually feel the muscle working.

1 The abdominals are to maintain posture and aid movement - not just for show.

'The abdominals' are made up of the rectus abdominus (abs), external oblique, internal oblique, transverse abdominus and work together with many other muscles such as the erector spinea, the psoas muscles.

The muscles are working constantly especially when standing or carrying something to maintain balance and correct posture.

The muscles combined are capable of flexion, extenstion, roatation, hip flextion, stabalization and more.

For this reason it is important that any exercise programme is balanced and doesn't over work one muscle group over another, this can cause injury and postural problems. Try to alternate flexion (crunches) with extension (dorsal raises) , rotation (trunk rotation) & side flexion (side crunches and oblique curls). And incorporate stretches to maintain flexibility.

2 Learn how to ENGAGE the core:

Learn how to contract the various muscles of the midsection before performing exercises, to ensure you are working them effectively. Being aware of the muscles and what they FEEL like when they contract will set the stage for stability and strengthening techniques.

Whilst lying down, imagine that a belt is tied around your abdomen. Take a deep breath in and on exhalation visualize that the belt is being fastened up to become tighter. use your hands to try and feel the muscles of your Transverse abdominis tighten. another version is to try and imagine your belly button being pulled downwards as you exhale.

now that you are aware of what it feels like to contract these muscles , be aware of them when performing specific core exercises.

3 'Sculpting' abs is a form of body building:

If your goal is to shape the muscles through exercise for aesthetic purposes you are essentially 'bodybuilding'. Bodybuilding may bring to mind the idea of musclebound figures covered in wood varnish posing on stage in some budgie smugglers, but actually any form of resistance training with the goal of body shaping through isolating muscle groups and movements lends its roots to body building.

That being said, to be successful in your quest for firmer, toned abs you should follow some of the protocols used by these athletes to your advantage.

  • Exercise intensity needs to be adequate to stimulate muscle adaption, Variety and progressive overload will produce results as your body adapts to the changing stimulus.

  • Form and technique is paramount to working muscles effectively, FEEL the muscle contract before completing each rep.

  • Good diet / nutrition and hydration will ensure muscles recover, improve and are ready to be trained again.

  • Rest and recovery is where the muscle develops, sleep enough and more exercise isn’t always better.

4 Diet is one of the most important factors in developing visible abs:

As stated above, the muscle might be firm and full but if it is surrounded by excess fat then you won’t see the benefits. There isn’t a specific food or supplement which 'torches bellyfat' there are no shortcuts. No amount of ab work will make up for poor diet.

Losing fat is something which should take time, this requires adopting a lifestyle which supports your goals. To lose body fat you need to ensure you are eating plenty of nutrient dense foods, healthy fat and proteins and slow release carbohydrates to allow you to exercise effectively.

A slight calorie deficit is required over a long period of time, but too high a deficit will leave you feeling weak, de-motivated and craving sugars. Mix this with a varied exercise regime.

5 More is not always better

i.e. there is no direct correlation between number of crunches performed and definition of abs. Therefore as mentioned above, practice quality, slow and controlled movements which contract the abdominals effectively and over a good range of motion.

When you start working the muscles with more precision and control then you will feel the intensity increase immediately. The muscle fibre type in the abs respond well to high reps. slow it down and count 15-20 reps and then switch to another movement which targets a different area of the core to maximise time efficiency.

Our core workout classes are 45 mins and 30 mins, these classes will strengthen your abs, obliques, erectors, TA and hip flexors, it will improve the firmness of the muscles 'muscle tone' .

The classes are also fun and challenging, using a range of equipment and techniques. Using slow eccentrics, isometric contractions, and supersets and balancing.

See Timetables

image credit : http://www.okaidimalta.com/pictures-of-abdominal-muscles/

and. Wix images

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