Six-pack abs are often the trademark of a fit and sexy body. Built abs aren’t just attractive, they’re also essential to having a strong core and better overall fitness. So whether you’re aiming for a chiseled washboard or just want to tone up your midsection for all the other benefits, we’re here to help.
There’s a reason our abs are deemed the core of our body. While they are in the center, connecting our top and bottom parts, they also provide pivotal functions including:
- Correcting posture so our body is in alignment
- Strengthening our lower back
- Providing balance and stability
- Transferring energy from the upper and lower body
So how are these all important abs made up? There are 4 different muscles that make up what is known as your abs.
Rectus Abdominis (RA)
This is the part people are talking about when they say “six pack.” Made up of 8 distinct muscle bellies, its runs vertically down the midsection from the chest to the pelvis.
Most of us know our obliques as the side abs. There are two types, the external and internal. External obliques are on both sides of the RA and are the largest of the ab muscles.
Internal Obliques are located directly below the RA and sit inside your hip bones. They help control movement and twisting and turning.
This is the deepest of your ab muscles. It’s located underneath your RA and obliques. It is critical to holding your entire abdominal structure together.
Now that you know what muscles make up your abs, we’re sure you want to know how to work them! Here are some of the best exercises that will work your different ab muscles and get you that killer core.
A great exercise that you can do anywhere without a single piece of equipment. The plank hold works your deep ab muscles as well as the ones closer to the surface. To plank: place your elbows underneath your shoulders and your wrists inline with your elbows. Make sure to brace your core by pulling your belly button to your spine. Hold this position for a minute, two minutes, or three minutes at a time. Set a timer and work your way up to your goal.
Similar to the plank, but on your side so you’re working those obliques. Start by lying down on your side with your feet together and one forearm under your shoulder. Tighten your core and raise your hips up. These are not as easy as they sound! Hold this position for your desired time and then repeat on the other side.
You might feel like a flailing bug as you first start this exercise, but it’s great, especially if you experience lower back pain. To do it, lie on your back with it pressed flat against the floor. With one leg bent, extend your opposite arm and leg out and then reach your hand to your toe, then extend them both back to the starting position. Do a set on one side and then repeat on the other side.
Remember that these exercises will only bring you awesome abs if you pair them with a healthy diet. You can’t crunch your way to sexy abs while ignoring this important part. Visit our gym for free and we can show you the right ab exercises to engage your core and help you with your nutrition. Together, we can help you get a killer set of abs!