With so many gadgets and gizmos bombarding our television, internet, and health clubs, how do you know what exercises work the best for abdominal training? In order to understand which exercises we should do we need to understand how the abdominals really work. This article outlines the purpose of the abdominals and what they were designed to do.
The abdominal muscles provide 3 basic functions: stabilization, rotation, and deceleration. Let's look at each of these individually.
1. Stabilization: We all know that in order for a tree to withstand strong winds it must have a strong trunk. This allow for the branches to move in the wind and yet the tree stands firm andoted. Our abdominals are no different than the trunk of a tree. It is no wonder that we oftentimes refer to the abdominal muscles as our trunk.
When the abdominals contract it helps to stabilize and stiffen our trunk so that our arms and legs can perform their function. With weak abdominals we run the risk of injuries to the back and the extremities. Many times I have seen injuries to athletes that triggered from weak abdominal (core) muscles. Once good stability was reestablished, the athlete's injury was able to heal.
2. Rotation: I think this is one of the most obvious ones. Our abdominal muscles rotate our trunk. Forceful rotation of the trunk, shoulders and arms comes from the hips and abdominal muscles.
3. Deceleration: The abdominal muscles slow down rotation, side bending, and most importantly, hyperextension of the back. For example. you are playing basketball and your team mate throws the ball above your head. You reach up to grab the ball and are forced to bend backwards. If your abdominals are strong enough you will be able to avoid doing a back handspring and folding in half.
Abdominal muscles also help to slow down rotation of the legs. There is some evidence (and my personal opinion) that a strong core can help to prevent ACL injuries.
So remember, do not waste your time with machines and exercises that do not train the abdominal muscles the way they were designed. Now that you have a better understanding of how the abdominal muscles truly function, it will be easier to design a training program that is effective.
If you've found this article helpful, please visit the Interval Training Guide website for more tips, resources and training routines to help you get the abdominal muscles that you want.