It’s no secret that getting a six-pack is a common goal for many people. In addition, many of the terms used for describing a variety of exercises and diets are often focused on the abdominal muscles. While it’s OK to set goals for attaining a healthy and strong core, focusing on a defined six-pack doesn’t necessarily mean that you should avoid eating a nutritious and whole-food diet.
Having a well-trained core is essential for maintaining a healthy and balanced spine and reducing the risk of injury during exercise. While it’s possible to reveal a stronger, defined six-pack with the proper diet and exercise, developing a solid core and keeping body fat levels low are two different goals.
This article will walk you through the various factors that affect the development of six-pack abs and give you advice on achieving a strong and functional core.
The Making of a 6 Pack
The six-pack refers to the muscle group responsible for flexing the spine forward. Although it’s essential to maintain a balanced spine, studies have shown that the six-pack is ineffective at stabilizing the spine.
The rectus abdominis is the smallest muscle in the core. This muscle gives abs their distinct appearance. Unfortunately, it doesn’t do much for the stability of the spine. It’s not about being a sports science major, just knowing which parts of your abs work for you.
When you think about your abs, think about the top half of the rectus abdominis muscle group. This muscle group is located on the front part of your core. Therefore, it’s essential to keep your core strong by performing various exercises. For example, doing the following moves will help keep your upper body in shape. These exercises will help strengthen the top half of your rectus abdominis muscle group.
- Sprinter Sit-Up: Lie on the floor with hands by your sides and legs extended straight. Pressing the right knee toward the chest, bring the left arm forward, and reverse the motion with control.
- V Ups: Lie back with both feet on the mat and legs extended by either side. Lift both arms and legs, creating a V-shape with the body.
- Plank to Toe Touch: Arrange yourself in a plank position. Engage both hips and lower abs to pull the body into an upside-down V-shape. Once you feel good, return to the beginning.
The rectus abdominis is a vertically divided muscle by a line of ligamentous tissue known as the linea alba. Despite being one muscle, the rectus abdominis has two sections. This part of the abs serves to support the spine and maintain the abdominal contents. It can also help prevent back pain. These exercises will help you tone the abs you thought you didn’t have. They also involve other muscles such as the hip flexors, obliques, and glutes.
- Bent Knee Crunches: This exercise is excellent for people who haven’t done much abs training. However, if you can do a lot of reps, this may not be challenging enough for you. Lie on the floor with both feet flat and your knees bent. Engage your abs while keeping both shoulders and head aligned. Lie back down again, slowly.
- Elbow Planks: A plank is an exercise that works the abs muscles by statically training them. It doesn’t require much effort to perform and doesn’t cause fatigue. The elbow plank is a great way to develop the abdominal muscles and the erector spinae muscles that run up the spine. Engage your abs while in this position for 20 to 60 seconds.
- Bird Dogs: Bird dogs are an isometric exercise that uses your abs to stabilize your back and hip movements. Get down on all fours while keeping both of your hips over the knees. Bend one leg behind you and extend the other arm in front until it’s parallel with the floor. This exercise is an excellent addition to any stability exercise to improve your back health.
The lower abdominal area is commonly referred to as the “lower abs” due to its shape. However, it isn’t a muscle group but a muscle sheath. This area becomes active through exercises that include the legs and hip flexors. Doing the following activities will help improve the flexibility of the lower abdominal region.
- Reverse Crunches: The reverse crunch is an abdominal exercise that involves keeping the upper body on the mat as you extend and contract your abs. Lie face up and lift your legs towards the ceiling. Contract your abs, slowly bring them off the floor and pull your knees toward your chest.
- Double Leg Lift: This movement works the various muscles in the lower abdominal regions. Lie on your back, keep your heels together, and lift your legs towards the ceiling. Lower the legs while keeping your back on the mat as you exhale.
- Mountain Climbers: This exercise involves holding a plank position while bringing your knees towards your chest and back out again. Position yourself on the floor with your hands shoulder-width apart. To keep your core engaged, draw your right knee to the chest. As you move, keep your core straight and avoid rounding it.