With the rapid approach of summer, the Abdominal Muscle Group seemed like a logical choice.
Rectus Abdominis (Street Name: ABS) Not to be confused with the stomach, the organ responsible for digesting food.
WHAT IT IS: A flat sheet of muscle that runs from just under your chest down to a few inches south of your bellybutton. This is one long, continuous muscle. We can perform exercises that specifically emphasize the upper portion of your rectus, and others that emphasize the lower portion.
WHAT IT DOES: Enables you to bend at the waist and keeps your torso stable while you move other muscles. For example, when you're using a shovel, your arms are moving but you have to brace your body to get enough leverage to protect your lower back.
WHY WORK IT: The obvious reason is to get a firm, muscular midriff, but strong abs improve your posture by making it easier to stand up straight. Also, they're important for guarding against lower back pain.
TIPS: Work this muscle with exercises like crunches, curls, or quarter sit-ups. Full sit-ups won't work, and they're hard on your back.
WHAT THEY ARE: The muscles that run diagonally down the sides of your rectus abdominis, or abs.
WHAT THEY DO: Help you twist from the waist or bend at the side.
WHY WORK THEM: To strengthen your middle. Also, strong obliques will help reduce lower back pain. They work with your rectus abdominis and lower back muscles to support your spine.
TIPS: Doing side bends while holding weights is not a good idea unless you want to build a thicker waist. The best exercise here is a crunch with a twist at the waist (aka 4 count sit ups). This exercise strengthens your obliques without adding bulk or destroying your lower back.
If you have comments or suggestions,
email us at
Webpage designed and maintained by Leilani Devries