WEAK POINT WEDNESDAYS: ABS
If there’s one bodypart that’s the most sought after is the abs. The thing is, having a visible 6 pack is proof that you’re sporting a low enough bodyfat for it to show, but just because you’re lean enough and have visible abs that doesn’t necessarily mean that your “core” is strong.
Since in every edition of Weakpoint Wednesdays I mainly focus on the aesthetic portion of a said muscle group, I’ll be making a separate post about how you can “bulletproof” your abs in the near future.
The “core” is comprised by the anterolateral abdominal wall, consisting of:
The rectus abdominis,
The external abdominal oblique,
The internal abdominal oblique,
The transversus abdominis
and the posterior abdominal wall consisting of lumbar vertebrae, the pelvic girdle, and the following muscles and associated fascia :
The quadratus lumborum,
The psoas major and minor
The rectus abdominis is a long muscular strap extending from the ventral lower sternum to the pubis. The muscle is interrupted, albeit not all the way through by three or more fibrous bands called the tendinous intersections. It’s an important postural and core muscle. With a fixed pelvis, contraction results in flexion of the lumbar spine. When the ribcage is fixed, contraction results in a posterior pelvic tilt. It also plays an important role in forced expiration and in increasing intra-abdominal pressure.
The external obliques muscle, the most superficial anterolateral abdominal muscle, has its fibers run inferomedially, resulting in ipsilateral side flexion and contralateral rotation of the trunk bilateral action to flex the vertebral column by drawing the pubis towards the xiphoid process.
The pyramidalis along with the rectus abdominis form the anterior abdominal wall when they contract bilateral tense the linea alba.
The internal obliques act unilaterally for ipsilateral trunk rotation and side flexion and bilaterally to compress the abdominal viscera, pushing them up into the diaphragm, resulting in a forced expiration.
The transversus abdominis is the deepest of the abdominal muscles, with its primary function being stabilisation of the lumbar spine and the pelvis before movement of the lower and /or upper limbs occur.
Acting together forming a firm wall that supports the muscles of the spine and helps to maintain an erect posture, Support internal visceral organs where there is no bone, protect the abdominal viscera from injury and help to keep them in their anatomical position. In addition, the contraction of these muscles helps in forceful expiration and to increases the intra-abdominal pressure such as in sneezing, coughing, micturating, defecating, lifting, and childbirth.
The posterior abdominal wall consists of lumbar vertebrae, pelvic girdle, muscles, and associated fascia (quadratus lumborum, iliacus, psoas major and minor).
The quadratus lumborum’s (QL) functions consist of lateral flexion and extension of the vertebral column, as well as assisting the diaphragm during the inhalation and fixing the 12th rib.
The psoas major is located lateral to the lumbar vertebrae and is responsible for flexing the thigh at the hip.
The psoas minor, doesn’t present in all populations and originates from Tthe 12-L1 transverse process and inserts into pubic pectineal line.
Lastly, the posterior aspect of the diaphragm is also a part of the posterior abdominal wall.
To make sure we build an aesthetic torso, we must empasize on the lower abs, since they’re the most often neglected portion of the abs. There are many such cases were trainees solely focused on the upper abs, resulting in uneven and disproportional abs, then having to spend a whole lot of effort and sweat to help the lower abs catch up.
Do NOT make the same mistake. Speaking from experience, the last thing you want to worry about is doubling the volume of your lower ab exercises when you could spend the same time doing something more productive.
Personally, I’m a big advocate of training the torso/core with weights and strongman style exercises. Does that mean that I’ll never perform bodyweight exercises? No, I still include them in my programs. I do however opt for variations that favor the lower abs.
My favorite ab exercises are rope crunches on a pulley, either standing or kneeling, hanging knee/leg raises with or without resistance and decline situps. Heavy compound lifts will still target the entirety of your torso/core but isolations are always important to include in your training.
Shooting for 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps at the end of your workout will get the job done.
To target the obliques, perform side bends with kettlebells, dumbbells or a pulley, woodchopper and rotation variations, as well as farmers walk variations, such as offset farmers walks, bear hug carries, suitcase carries, trap bar farmers walks etc.
You can either go heavy for short distances or use moderate/lighter weights for longer distances/durations. In my opinion you should do both instead of solely favoring one method over the other.
Stomach vacuums are a long forgotten exercise from the bronze and silver era of bodybuilding, but can still help you create a flatter stomach along with stronger abdominal muscles. You can either do that standing or while leaning forward as if you’re about to perform rows or RDLs.
This is the optimal way to target your core and get a ridiculously strong core. Ditch the basic bodybuilding-esque workouts and start training like an athlete.
But V-Dawg, why shouldn’t I train my abs as soon as I start my training session? You should start your training with an explosive movement such as jumps or med ball throws to prime your nervous system, then hit your heavy compound movements while you’re fresh and not in a fatigued state. It’s safer to go for a new PR when your abs are not toasted.
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