Let's talk about abs
How familiar are you with your abdominal or "core" muscles? Whether you're new to exercise or you've been taking classes with us for a long time, understanding your anatomy can make a huge difference when it comes to your workouts (and even your day to day life) being effective, enjoyable, and pain-free. Knowledge is power!
So let’s start with some basic simplified anatomy.
Whether or not you can actually “see” your abs (it can be hard to see them unless you have a very low body fat percentage), we promise you have them! Your abs help you breathe, regulate internal pressure, support your spine and rib cage, contain and protect your organs, and move your whole body.
You actually have four different types of abdominal muscles that all do slightly different things but work together as a layered system. Generally, all your abs attach somewhere on your ribs, somewhere on your pelvis, and somewhere on your “linea alba” (that little line/dip that goes down the center of your body).
(1) The most easily recognized “ab” muscle is your rectus abdominis. It’s the one that gives people a “six pack”... but while it’s flashy and easy to work, it’s not really the most useful, supportive, or interesting muscle in the abdominal system. It attaches your sternum to your pubic bone, and its main job is to flex you forward (i.e. a sit up). As a side note, your RA is really easy to over-work at the expense of strengthening the other abdominals.
(2) and (3) Then you have your two sets of obliques — external and internal — one of each on both sides of your body. They attach your rib cage to the top of your pelvis and crisscross the front of your torso to rotate you and bend you side to side, as well as flex you forward (like the rectus abdominus does), pulling your ribs down to your hips.
(4) The fourth type of abdominal muscle is your transversus abdominis. It’s the deepest and most subtle one. It’s super important, but often the most neglected. It wraps horizontally around your body and holds you together like a girdle. It acts as a major stabilizer (particularly of your pelvis) and pressure regulator. If you don’t have a strong TVA, you don’t have a strong core -- regardless of how well-defined your six pack might be.
When you’re doing "core exercises" or "ab exercises", it’s really important to be able to use ALL of your ab muscles together so that you can effectively reach your strength goals and avoid injury. All of these muscles also work together to support you while you do other types of exercises and activities (whether that's an overhead press at the gym, leaning over to pick up your toddler, running a marathon, or mowing your lawn), so you definitely want to have a good understanding of how they work.
Did you learn something new? Did you have a light bulb moment that you want to dig into a bit deeper? Feeling lost? Not sure how to find and use each of these muscles? We’re here to help!
Over the next while, we'll be posting more tutorials on Instagram and TikTok about how to find and activate all of your core muscles. We also are available for private sessions (in person or virtually). Additionally, did you know we can send you home workout tutorials and programs for you to practice the skills that you personally need to work on? So stay tuned to our social media, and (as always) feel free to reach out if you have any questions we can help you with personally!