As you approach the season of warmth, invariably you approach the season of swimsuits. Look through a few magazines and you might think to yourself that those glamorous models must do a lot of crunches.
What you might not know is that from a fitness standpoint, there’s more to toned abdominal muscles than you think.
The abdominal muscles are actually four “bunches” of muscles that reach from the bottom of your rib cage to the top of your pelvic bone. These four abdominal muscles are called the external and internal obliques, the transverse abdominis and rectus abdominis.
There’s no single exercise that will train all ab muscles at the same time. This means you need to know where these muscles are located and what exercises you can perform to target these areas.
Your external obliques are the outermost muscles of your trunk on the sides that wrap around to your back, where they attach to your ribs. The internal obliques lie under them. Both the external and internal obliques are responsible for the twisting movement of your body. Some exercise ideas for the obliques include the bicycle or side plank.
The transverse abdominis lies in the deepest muscular layer in the abdominal wall. This muscle runs horizontally. A good way to think about this muscle is that it’s like a girdle. It’s holding everything in. Try to engage your ab muscles by holding them in while performing everyday activities.
The rectus abdominis is the band of muscle fibers that are vertical and creased with tendons. It is this muscle group that gives the appearance of the six-pack or washboard abs. Some exercises for this group include the reverse curl and regular crunches.
Performing these strengthening exercises will only tone and strengthen your abdominal muscles. They will not get rid of the fat layer that lies on top.
The best way to get fabulous abs is to do a combination of strengthening exercises and cardiovascular activity that burns fat.
So whether you’re goal driven for six-pack abs or just want to lose some of that spare tire, keep in mind that performing a variety of abdominal exercises, keeping proper form and eating right will prepare you for swimsuit season.