Here’s everything you’ve ever wanted to know about how to lose belly fat and sculpt a rock hard six-pack!
Ask most men what body part they most wish to improve and their abs will feature high on the list. A rock-hard six-pack not only looks good, it also proves you take training seriously and know what you’re doing when it comes to burning excess body fat and building hard, lean muscle mass.
Your abdominals are a collection of important postural muscles and are responsible for flexing your spine forwards, as when doing a crunch. The group also assists with breathing, stabilising the torso during exercise and protecting your internal organs from impact.
When people talk about the abs, they’re often referring to the rectus abdominis, a paired muscle that runs vertically on either side of the front of the abdomen, separated down the middle by a band of connective tissue called the linea alba, or white line.
It’s this line, along with those that run horizontally across this muscle group, that creates the six distinct parts of a six-pack. There are actually four vertical sections, but the bottom pair are just above the pubic bone and not typically visible.
Heavy multi-joint movements, including deadlifts, squats and overhead presses, are among the very best exercises for developing your abs because they require your entire midsection to be engaged to stabilise your upper body and to transfer power between your upper and lower body. However, the abs are like every other muscle group in that they need to be targeted directly, from a variety of angles, to effectively elicit maximum muscle growth.
The role of the abs
The abdominals are a collection of muscles in the front of your torso that play a variety of important roles. They are responsible for bending your spine forwards and rotating your torso left and right, and together with your lower back provide postural support and stability and allow the efficient transfer of power between you upper and lower body. They also assist in the respiration process and serve to protect the organs of your lower torso too.
• The rectus abdominis is a long, flat muscle that runs down the front of your stomach and is better known as your abs or six-pack. It’s an important stabilising muscle and is responsible for flexing your spine, as when performing a crunch. It also assists with breathing and plays an important role when forcefully expelling air from the lungs. It creates intra-abdominal pressure that protects your internal organs. It’s divided down the middle by the linea alba.
• The external obliques are the largest and most superficial of the obliques, which run either side of the rectus abdominis. Their function is to the pull the chest downwards. They also have limited actions in both the flexion and rotation of the spine.
• The internal obliques are deep-lying muscles that lie under the external obliques. They have two major functions: as antagonists to the diaphragm to inhale and expel air from the lungs, and to rotate and bend the torso. This is achieved when the right internal oblique and left external oblique contract together to flex and rotate the torso to bring the left shoulder towards the right hip.
• The transverse abdominis are the deepest muscles of the abdominals group, lying under the external and internal obliques, and stabilise your torso.
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