The Elusive Six-Pack- Part 1 of 3

A common goal among exercisers is to achieve those washboard abs that the models in the fitness magazines all seem to have. Endless crunches, leg raises, side bends, sit ups, strapping into the ab machines at the gym. People continue to search for the secret to the elusive ‘six pack’, often without much success. Turn on late night TV and you are sure to catch more than one infomercial promoting some new miracle device that will give you fitness magazine abs without any effort at all. If perfect abs are your goal, one thing you can be sure of, those infomercial products will make your wallet smaller faster than your waistline.

So, for those of us who are not fitness models, how can we develop a trim, defined midsection? Several points need to be addressed. Today we will discuss the first one, the ‘abs’, which are made up of several muscles. The one most people associate with is the rectus abdominus, located in the front of the abdomen between the ribs and the pelvis. Although it is one muscle, it is divided by grooves, the tendinous inscriptions, which is why it is often referred to as the ‘six pack’ (in reality it is an ‘eight pack’). The primary function of the rectus abdominus is to flex the trunk, or bring the rib cage down towards the pelvic bone. In addition to this muscle, the internal and external obliques (located on the sides of your abdomen), and the transverse abdominus (running perpendicular to and underneath the rectus abdominus) are the main muscles that make up your ‘abs’. A properly designed fitness program will incorporate exercises that work each of these muscles and not focus solely on the ‘six pack’. In addition, in order to provide strength and stabilization to your trunk, and avoid imbalances that can lead to injury, exercises that strengthen the muscles of the back and hips should be part of a complete program.

More is also not necessarily better when it comes to repetitions. Performing 25 well executed crunches is far more effective than being able to proudly proclaim the ability to do 200 crunches with poor form.

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