The Abdominals!

The rectus femoris, more commonly know as the abdominal muscle, is one muscle and it contracts as one. So trying to train one part of it will be difficult, although not impossible...

The abdominal muscle is one muscle and it contracts as one, so trying to train one part of it will be difficult, although not impossible. The reason training the lower abdominal region is tough is because there is not much there. The abdomen is thick above the navel, but below there is not much more than a thin muscular wall and connective tissue.

The Spine

Another reason is that the spine can easily flex in the upper abdominal region, causing the abdomen to contract, but not much movement in the lower abdominal area, because the pelvis is in the way. Good news though, your spine can flex in the lower area, but only a small degree.

When you roll your hips up toward you or lift the hips a few inches off the floor it is possible to target the lower abdominal region, allowing it to do more work than usual. These two movements minimize involvement of the hip flexor, which is a troublemaker when you engage in abdominal training.

Hip Flexors

When attempting hanging leg raises, the hip flexors assist the abdomen in moving the trunk toward the legs. Since the hip flexors are stronger, the abdomen never gets much of a chance to work when hip flexors are contracting. To sum it up, if you want to train abs, then just train abs - not the hip flexors. When you start moving the hip (hanging leg raises, hanging knee raises and sit-ups) the abdominal muscle is no longer the primary mover and won't do much work.

A simple way to effectively target the lower abdominal region is the torso lift. Lie on the floor and raise your feet, putting your body in the "L" position. Now, using your lower abdominal region, lift your trunk off the floor. This is a small movement, not much more than a few inches. Another effective exercise to target the lower abdominal area is to lie on the floor and cross your legs Indian Style and crunch up, pulling from your lower abdominal region.

The Abdominal Section

Weighted rope crunches will build a thick muscular abdominal section. The added weight will not affect your symmetry since you are not targeting the obliques with this movement. Using high cables, attach the rope grip and place behind the neck. Position yourself in a kneeling position and bend down at the waist, keeping the knees in a 90-degree angle. As you move down, round the back and pull with the lower abdominal area and contract as you blow your air out.

I stress lower abdominal training because the upper region is easily attainable. We use the upper abdominal area in our activities of daily living, the lower region seems to be the trouble spot in many, especially women.

To acquire visible, shapely abs, diet is the most important followed by training, rest and supplementation. I will soon touch on each of these issues to provide you with the ammunition to build a killer physique.

© 2002 Karen Sessions. All Rights Reserved