So I’ve held you in suspense for long enough. A couple weeks ago we talked about including hypertrophy accessory work into your programming to add a little more muscle and build some supporting structural stability. Building on that I said I was going to do a short post on abdominal training. So here we go.
When you think of abs, what do you think of? Most people only think of a six-pack. That’s because they are the “show” muscles that everyone would first see beginning to pop when as they get leaner. But that is only a quarter of what truly constitutes our abdominals. Aside from the six-pack rectus abdominis muscle, we have 2 layers of obliques, external and internal obliques and our innermost layer, the transverse abdominis. Let’s have a quick summary of how these work, so you can understand how to target these with different exercises.
Let’s start with the innermost transverse abdominis. The main purpose of these is to contain our digestive organs as well as provide thoracic and pelvic stability. Our internal and external obliques work together to rotate and side-bend the torso by pulling the ribs toward the hip and lower back, of the opposite side (i.e. pulling the right shoulder down to the left hip). And finally, the one we all are relatively familiar with, the rectus abdominis is a trunk flexor. This brings our shoulders toward our hips, without any rotation.
Now, lets talk about how to approach training these muscles. When I write up an ab circuit, what I think about is how to target each of these muscles for the circuit. In trying not to make this post too long, I am going to generalize a bit here. I would want to target my trunk flexors with something such as a sit-up of some variation. I also want to think about training my obliques directly with something that involves rotation or anti-rotation. This could be something like a Russian twist or a hanging knee raise oblique crunch. This works both the internal and external obliques. When I think about the transverse abdominis, these get trained during pretty much any type of ab exercises, but can be targeted even more by doing things such as planks and ab-wheel roll-outs.
Now you are armed with some information to begin building your own ab program. But here’s what I’m going to do for you. Every week, I will post an ab circuit and write it on a whiteboard that you can do every week. These can be done either before or after class and should be done a few times a week. Just like any other training we do, it will take time for you to notice the results, but I promise that if you stick with it, you will begin to see results physically and also in your performance. Find a friend to do it with who will also help hold you accountable to doing these throughout the week.
Here is your first circuit. It’s simple and to the point, without any explanation needed. I will change this up every week and as I introduce new movements, I will post videos of how to do these new movements.
3 Rounds (for quality, not time):
12 Strict Toes to Bar (or as high as possible), full control on the way down
15 Weighted Sit-ups
45 sec. Side plank/side