The Other Side of Abdominal Training
Guest Post by Mike Fitch of GlobalBodyWeightTraining.com
The Three Best Ab Exercises from the Lower Body Up
I already know what you’re thinking, not another ab article, how many times can we repackage the same old crap?
Well I can guarantee that there will be no magazine cover promises like “six pack abs in six days,” but I will break down a couple moves that will give you maximum benefit from these amazingly multi-functional trunk muscles.
In this article I will refer to the abdominal muscles and the posterior spinal muscles as the “trunk” (I’ve kind of abandoned the word “core” after its misuse and abuse over the past few years).
For those of you who are locked in the never ending Jane Fonda crunch cycle, I challenge you to get up off of the floor. When have you ever snatched, climbed, flipped, pulled a car or bent a piece of metal while lying on your back? Well then there must be a better way to strengthen your trunk for all those exercises than lying on your back, right?
For those of you who are already doing all those things, I challenge you to spend some time specifically on trunk training. I’ve seen damn strong guys crumble due to a debilitating back injury that could have easily been avoided. Plus as we all know, stronger abs means stronger back, stronger abs and back mean stronger everything.
The key to understanding how to train the abdominal wall is first understanding the true function of the abdominal wall. In its simplest terms, the only concern of the abdominal muscles is to move, protect and stabilize the spine. All of the trunk muscles work together to allow the body to effectively generate and receive force. If we look at the function of the muscles then it gives us the chance to choose exercises more effectively.
Serious Abdominal Function going on right here…
So let’s look at the trunk and its duties per muscle group.
The ‘six pack!’ It may be one of the most sought after muscle groups in the human anatomy. Its pure visibility leads to an almost immediate assumption of fitness. But what does it do?
Well aside from protecting the body’s vital organs, it’s how it moves the spine that is most important. Stretching from the lower sternum to the pelvis, the RA flexes the spine (as in sitting up) but what gets less attention is its ability to decelerate spinal extension.
Internal and External Obliques
Multi-functional due to their design, the IO and EO play major roles in spinal movement. The spinal column itself is capable of three main movements: spinal flexion/extension, spinal rotation and lateral spinal flexion (side bending). The IO and EO happen to play a role in all of them (the Quadratus Lumborum also helps out in side bending).
Just like the Rectus, the obliques help decelerate opposing movements which is crucial in the way the body accepts outside forces and still maintains the integrity of the spine.
Running the entire length of the spine, the erectors are broken up into sub divisions. The erectors are primary extensors and stabilizers of the spine. So when you bend down to pick something up, gravity is pulling the upper body down while the erectors are controlling the decent. They then contract to extend the spine or stand back up straight.
On a deeper level, the Transversus Abdominis and multifidus play a vital part in the stabilization system of the spine.
So now we know that the four primary muscle groups of the trunk that we want to focus on are:
1. Rectus Abdominis
2. Internal Oblique
3. External Oblique
4. Erector Spinae
And we know that the three major movements of the spine are:
2. Spinal rotation
3. Lateral spinal flexion (side bending)
This gives us a logical blueprint to choose our exercises! The three exercises that I’m demonstrating in this article/video all start from what I call the “4 Pillars” stance, which is anytime the hands and feet are in contact with the floor, like in a push up.
Weather it’s animal movements or strength movements we can achieve excellent conditioning for the rotator cuff, hips and trunk musculature.
The other elements that make these exercises so effective are the speed and rhythm which allows us to utilize both functions of the trunk musculature, which again is force acceleration and force deceleration.
The final advantage to these movements is the fact that we are training the trunk by moving the lower body with a fixed upper, rather than the traditional fixed lower (like in a crunch or sit up). This makes its carry-over to performance far greater.
Mike Fitch is the creator of the Global Bodyweight Training system. You can get a taste of it by signing up on his site where you’ll receive a free video on 25 Pushup Variations for Total Chest Development. Also be sure to check out the World is Our Playground section to see bodyweight training and more in Miami, Costa Rica and many more locations around the world.
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Tags: abdominal workouts, bodyweight training, core workouts, global bodyweight training, hand balancing, hand stand
February 10th, 2011 at 1:43 pm
Now where can I get floor like that?
February 10th, 2011 at 1:49 pm
Hey Jedd & Mike!
really nice post. It seems you’ve never seen it all regarding core training. Really worth giving it a try!!
Keep it up
Best regards from Spain 🙂
February 10th, 2011 at 2:25 pm
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February 10th, 2011 at 2:43 pm
Those are some pretty advanced moves!
I just tried them with some floor sliders on my feet and to accomplish them as fluidly as the video is very challenging.
I propose modifying by shortening the range and/or placing the hands on paralletes, dumbbells or gymnastic rings.
Also, if you don’t have hard wood, but have carpet you can use furniture sliders to remove friction.
February 10th, 2011 at 3:47 pm
That is really cool. Nice, simple but seems highly effective.
February 10th, 2011 at 4:41 pm
Holy Crap! I am currently doing a core training manual/ebook and your write up is almost identical to some of the writing I did. Now I do not have these exercises in it as these are new ones I have not tried-NICE. Good minds think alike I guess!
February 11th, 2011 at 8:26 am
Great post, Mike! I’ve gotta try out some of those moves!
February 11th, 2011 at 4:17 pm
That was a great post. I can’t remember the last time I’ve done a sit up. I’ve been doing a lot more isometric core work lately, but I’m going to give these a try. I was doing that first one on parallettes for a while and getting a nice deep push up in on each rep. Good exercise.
February 12th, 2011 at 10:10 pm
@Vicente, you’re absolutely right! It seems we are always either underestimating or over analyzing the function of our trunk, when all we need to do is look at the design to understand it’s potential!
@Matt, excellent suggestions! Like i said in the video, if you lack ROM or are restricted by too much mass (not my problem at all, ha) you can elevate your hand position to increase movement window.
@Jerry, cheers on putting out a new ebook on core conditioning! I look forward to reading it. Feel free to add these movements into your book.
@Al, you better have these moves mastered, I’ll be in your town soon to do some major brainstorming sessions. Looking forward to bouncing some ideas my man!
@Eric, not a day goes by that i don’t use my parallettes for some part of my training! Such a valuable, but cheap tool. Keep it up brotha!
February 13th, 2011 at 2:04 pm
http://fitnesscoachterry.com As a 61 year old trainer I am glad to still be learning from you smart and creative young experts.
February 18th, 2011 at 11:51 pm
Innovative stuff Mike! Good job.
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