Wide Variety of Training Programs Confuses – Choose Versatile to Avoid Imbalance

Our earlier blog post Training Abs – It’s Not All About the Sixpack! already referred to this ab obsession that has surrounded us. About the magazines and blog posts telling how to get tiny waist, how to train your sixpack etc. And I suppose that our autumn’s Mpower Abs Challenge goes to this same category as well. LoL.

So abs training is not only about the sixpack, as we have agreed. Or at least it should not be! It should be about improving your athletic performance and maintaining your muscle support to ensure good posture and lack of back pain. It should be about being healthy. Okay, so how to choose most effective and universal training program to train these qualities and not to train only the sixpack?

Key words here are balance and diversity!  This means focusing on more than single routine workouts– workouts that train the straight ab muscles and the obliques, not to mention the back muscles! These muscles enable fluent movement and give muscle support to the middle body which is very important for spine and posture.

 

Balance – training the muscle groups equally based on the needs.
Diversity – training all the core muscles with several routines.

 

Mpower Muscle Activation Monitor is there to help you when you want to know which abs exercises are most effective for your abs!

 

FEW WORDS ABOUT IMBALANCE

 

Our current society and increasing amount of sedentary work has affected to our unilateral use of core muscles. The back muscles are naturally considerably more in active use than our abdominal muscles during the daily tasks. In practice, this exposes us to the muscle imbalance: our lower back muscles are strained when abdominal muscles are loose and weak. However, those lower back muscles’ functional length and metabolism may have changed because of imbalanced use, and the back muscles are more prone to the injuries and are not in good shape after all!

Therefore, training abs helps to build better support for your entire body and relieve imbalances between the muscles. Meaning that nowadays abdominal muscles need to be trained more intensively than the back muscles without ignoring any muscle group. Best scenario would be that back muscles are trained as part of our abdominal workouts. For example including to the workout a routine that focuses entirely on back muscles as Superman, or adding few more functional routines that train all the core muscles as Spider Crawl and Superman Plank do.

 

nella-abs-korkearesoluutio-3689-mustavalko

 

DIVERSITY IN PRACTICE

 

As we have witnessed, there are multiple of different ab programs and challenges to follow and participate. Best ones include several routines that train 1) transverse abdominis, 2) internal and external obliques, 3) rectus abdominis – the sixpack, and 4) the main back muscles. (Note: Back muscles can roughly be divided into four main groups: upper back, infraspinatus, middle back, and lower back muscles.)  Routines of the program can focus to train either one or several muscle groups at the same time as noted in earlier paragraph. The main thing is that all the sections are trained, not even every day nor at the same workout, but frequently.

As an example in Mpower Abs Challenge we focus on straight abs in different days than obliques. Both are trained three times in a week, and based on the focus area of the day both, internal and external, muscles are trained. The program includes focused and functional routines. The back muscles are exercised as part of functional routines e.g. Side Leg Bench Crunch activates transverse abdominis and lower back muscles when on a working posture. But while turning from side to side the obliques and middle back muscles are also activated. We have also added a few functional routines that also increase the heartrate in addition to activating several muscle groups as Mountain Climber. Those routines are actually very good since our entire body is recruited to function, and this improves strength and endurance in long-term.

Okay fellows, so we have already understood that when training the core muscles with diverse ab program, we do not train only the abdominals. Of course the exact muscles are trained, growing and improving, but also our overall performance in sports is improving and even the fat is burning. Yes, fat is also burning, equally from entire body and not only around our waist. In addition, the diverse ab program improves your core muscles’ balance and muscle support, so that the back pain is only illusion anymore.

 

Conclusion – core training means improving stability, reducing injuries, maintaining mobility, and being healthy!

 

References:

Anholt, A. (2013) The Abdominal Exercises Bible: Ab Exercises For Core Strength And A Flat Belly. Anthony Anholt.

Akuthota, V. & Nadler, SF. (2004) Core strengthening. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Available from:

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0003999303012358. [Last accessed 21/09/2016]

Asher, A. (2016) The Ab Muscle Group. Very Well. [Online] Available from: https://www.verywell.com/the-abdominal-muscle-group-296478. [Last accessed 21/09/2016]

Gottschall, J. S., Mills, J. & Hastings, B. (2013) Integration Core Exercises Elicit Greater Muscle Activation Than Isolation Exercises. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research. Available from: http://journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/Abstract/2013/03000/Integration_Core_Exercises_Elicit_Great er_Muscle.5.aspx. [Last accessed 21/09/2016]

Hautala, A. (2016) Back and abdominal muscles in shape! (Selkä- ja vatsalihakset kuntoon!) Kauneus & Terveys. Finnish. Available from: http://www.kauneusjaterveys.fi/treeni-ravinto/liikunta/selka-ja-vatsalihakset-kuntoon. [Last accessed 21/09/2016]

Keys, G. (2016) Building Core Strength to Reduce Back Pain. Spine Universe. [Online] Available from: http://www.spineuniverse.com/wellness/exercise/building-core-strength-reduce-back-pain. [Last accessed 21/09/2016]

Lauren, M. (2011) You Are Your Own Gym: The Bible of Bodyweight Exercises. Ballantine Books Trade Paperback Edition.

Scott, F. et al. (2001) Hip muscle imbalance and low back pain in athletes: influence of core strengthening. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. Available from:  https://brainmass.com/file/177591/hip%2520muscle%2520imbalance%2520and%2520low%2520back%2520pain%2520in-2.pdf. [Last accessed 21/09/2016]

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