Abs Muscle Exercise - Do it the Right Way

Abs Muscle Exercises - Do it the Right Way

When the abdominal muscles contract, a very simple thing happens: They pull the rib cage and the pelvis toward each other in a short, "crunching" motion. No matter what kind of abs muscle exercise you do, if it is really a primary abs muscle movement this is what happens. In the past, before the physiology of abdominal training was well understood, bodybuilders used to do a lot of "conventional" abdominal muscle exercises such as sit-ups and leg raises. Unfortunately, those are not primary abs muscle exercises but instead work the iliopsoas muscles - the hip flexors. The hip flexors arise from the lower back, go across the top of the pelvis, and attach to the upper thigh. When you raise your leg, you use the hip flexors. When you hook your feet under a support and lift your torso up in a conventional sit-up, you are also using the iliopsoas muscles.

Try this exercise: Stand up, hold on to something for support, and lift one leg up in front of you while putting one hand on your abdominals muscle. You will feel a pull at the top of the thigh but it will also be obvious that the abdominals are not involved in lifting the leg. The abdominals attach to the pelvis, not the leg, so they have nothing to do with raising the leg up in the air.

The same thing is true of a sit-up or slant-board sit-up. This exercise is really the reverse of a leg raise. Instead of keeping the torso steady and lifting the leg, you are keeping the legs steady and lifting the torso - and the same muscles are being used, the hip flexors. When you do any of these exercises, the primary role of the abdominals is as stabilizers. They keep the torso locked and steady. But this is directly opposite of what we want to achieve in our abs muscle training because the role of the abs, as pointed out earlier, is simply to draw the rib cage and pelvis together - to crunch them together in a very short movement which involves the back curling forward. The back doesn't bend much doing a sit-up, while it curls a lot doing a crunch. That is the secret to full range, quality isolation training of the abdominals muscle.

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