You and everyone you know from friends, personal trainers, magazines, and workout dvd’s make a point to highlight that flat stomachs can be made by doing crunches – and a whole lot of them. We see publication after publication, social media posts and films that show tanned, tight men and women with flat stomachs, six packs and tiny waists. Don’t be fooled by their fitness, crunches are not how they achieved their taut tummies. What they have focused their core work on are their transverse abdominis aka inner core muscles.
Get to know your abdominal muscles.
Your abdominals consist of four groups of muscles which connect your rib cage to your pelvis, here they are:
- The internal and external obliques, which sit at the sides and are involved in twisting
- The rectus abdominis, which sit on either side of the belly button from ribs to pelvis and are involved with front flexion or the sit-up movement
- The transverse abdominis, the innermost abdominal muscles that wrap around your waist like a corset and are involved in posture and supporting your spine.
Crunches became popular because they work the rectus abdominis – which can give that six pack look. Just because someone has a six pack, does not mean they have a strong toned stomach. The other muscle groups, obliques, and most importantly the transverse abdominis may be weak, which among other things can be the cause of back pain, poor posture and overall core imbalance. Question, have you seen people who have six packs, but their belly’s stick out? This is because the transverse abdominis and not strong – think of them as your inner corset! This is the part of the core you need to train to have a strong flat stomach. They are your deep inner core and work to help keep an erect spine, and to have a strong functional core.
To identify which muscles are your transverse abdominis, pretend for a moment that you are blowing up a balloon. Feel the pressure inside your tummy? Those are your transverse abs. These muscles are used every day when you cough, sneeze, or go to the toilet.
Susy Sedano is a Content Producer, a fitness enthusiast and an avid cook of healthy meals. She prides herself on creating healthy dishes for family and friends, and is always on the hunt for new workouts and recipes! Despite her hectic non-stop work and fitness schedules, she is a “girl’s girl” and a student of life!
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