“Lower abs are tough to strengthen because that is where our body stores most of its excess fat,” And for women, the hormone estrogen naturally wants to hold onto fat in this area,” Amanda Butler certified trainer and instructor at The Fhitting Room in New York City tells Greatist.com
Anatomy of the Abdominals
The stars of the show are the rectus abdominis, the obliques (internal and external), and the transversus abdominis.
Outer abdominal muscles. Your outer abdominal muscles include the rectus abdominis, the external obliques, the internal obliques, and the erector spinae. They mostly surround the lower half of your torso. They provide you strength for movement and stability for preventing movement.
Rectus abdominis. It is a long thin muscle whose fibers run vertically down your body beginning between 5th and 7th ribs and ends at the pubic bone. This muscle flexes your trunk and moves your rib cage and pelvis close together.
Your rectus abdominis is one big muscle that includes both your upper and lower abs. So there are no exercises that isolate either half individually.Still, there are exercises you can do to work out your lower abs.
External obliques. These muscles are visible running diagonally from your ribs to the front of your pelvis. External obliques rotate your torso and bend it sideways. They also provide support and stability for your gut, along with the internal obliques.
Internal obliques. These muscles are the primary stabilizers of your trunk. Like the external obliques, they lie on a diagonal, but they run in opposite direction. They help to rotate your torso.
Erector Spinae. You cannot have strong abs without a good back. The group of Erector Spinae muscle is made up of the iliocostalis (top layer) and the longissimus (second layer). Your back muscles run from the base of your skull all the way down your spine and finally connects to your pelvis. Try to feel these muscles in your lower back by touching the two vertical ridges that lie on the either side of your spine.
Pelvic Floor Health
How many niggly issues do you put up with every? Either because you haven’t got the time or think that is the way it is, after giving birth to kids. Here are some of the common complaints that moms suffer from
- Back ache
- Poor posture
- Wee leakage
- Neck and shoulder tension
- Bloated tummy
- A tugging sensation in your pelvis
Pelvic floor disorders result from a combination of factors such as being obese, having an injury that occurs during the removal of theuterus or another surgical procedure, having a natural birth, aging and frequently doing things that increase pressure in the abdomen such as liftingheavy objects or straining during bowel movements.
Being pregnant or having a natural delivery may stretch or weaken some of the supporting structures in your pelvis. The pelvic floor disorders are common among women who have given multiple births. The risk increases with each delivery because your nerves get damaged that leadsto muscle weakness.
Kegel exercises make your pelvic muscles stronger. The pelvic muscles control your urine flow and help hold your pelvic organs in place. Your doctor can prescribe Kegel exercise in case of stress incontinence, urge incontinence and pelvic floor weakness due to childbirth.
How to Do Kegel Exercises
Kegels are easy to perform, and you can do it anywhere, without anyone knowing it.
- Find the muscles you use to stop urinating.
- Squeeze these muscles for three
- Never tighten your stomach and thigh muscles when you do this movement.
- Increase 1 second each week, until you can hold for 10 seconds.
- Try to repeat this exercise 10 to 15 times per session.
- Try to do thisthree times a day.
- Never do Kegel exercise while you’re urinating, because it can hurt the bladder.
If you suffer from a backache and urine leakage, you might suffer a weak core. Without strengthening your midsection and pelvic floor, pelvic organ prolapse is a real risk.Pelvic organ prolapse occurs when a pelvic organ such as your bladder, prolapses from its usualplace in your lower belly.
The bladder pushes against the walls of your vagina.Organs that can be involved when you have a pelvic prolapse include bladder, uterus, urethra, small bowel, vagina, and rectum.
Your core includes your pelvic floor. The whole system needs to function optimally for a strong midsection such as aflatstomachand a pelvic floor that performs its job.
Your muscles need to contract and relax effectively to improve the pelvic floor function. The way you carry yourself and support your body for walking, twisting and standing also influences whether you make use of the pelvic floor muscles, or weigh down on them. If you hold your body correctly as you move around, your pelvic floor muscles will be able to do their job naturally.
The great news is that you don’t need toputup with these problems. You can reverse them through careful lifestyle changesif you commit to proper nutrition and the right exercise you can make huge improvements.
Low Back Pain
Back muscles like any muscle in the body, require adequate exercise to maintain, strength and tone. While you use your thigh muscles anytime you walk or climb a step; you leave the deep back muscles and abdominals inactive and unconditioned. If you don’t exercise them, they will weaken with age.
When the facet joints or other structures in your spine, became inflamed, your large back muscles can spasm causing low back pain and marked limitation in motion.
If you suffer from lower back pain for more than two weeks, it can lead to muscle weakness. Since using the muscle hurts, your natural tendency is to avoid it. This process causes atrophy and subsequent weakening which inturn causes more back pain because the muscles of your spine are less able to hold up your spine.
Muscle strength and flexibility are essential to maintaining neutral spine position. Your weak abdominal muscles cause your hip flexor muscle to tighten causing an increase in the curve of your lower back.
An unhealthy posture occurs when the curve is overextended, called lordosis or sway back. Proper posture corrects muscle imbalances that can lead to low back pain, by evenly distributing weight throughout the spine.
An expanding waistline is considered the price of getting older. Your muscle mass slowly diminishes with age, while fat increases. You may notice an increase in belly fat, even if you’re not gaining any weight,This action is likely due to the decreasing level of estrogen, which appears to influence where fat gets distributed in your body.
Research studies say that if you carry excess abdominal fat in your midsection the so called “spare tire.”You tend to face ahigher risk ofheart disease when compared to people who have fat elsewhere. Researchers from the American College of Cardiology found that individuals with greater increases in abdominal fat showed asubstantial increase in metabolic risk factors, including high blood sugar, high triglycerides or low HDL or good cholesterol.
Research also indicates that an increase in belly fat increases the risk of premature death regardless of overall weight. Scientists say that abdominalobesity is also a risk factor for osteoporosis. In a study presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA), researchers found that visceral fat increased bone marrow fat and decreased bone mineral density which ultimately leads to osteoporosis.
A large research study found that premenopausal women with a significant amount of belly fat have a higher risk of hormone receptor negative breast cancer than women with less abdominal fat.
Cross Body Mountain Climbers
- Reps: 30 secs
- Set: 2-3
- Rest as needed
Get down into a push-up position. Keep your hands straight.Place your body in a straight line from your shoulder to your ankle. Tighten your abs. Gently lift your right foot away from the floor. Now bring your right knee in the direction of your left shoulder.
Come back to the starting position. Repeat the moves with your left leg. Alternate for 12-15 reps per leg. Try to keep your body straight and hips low at all times.Make these moves slowly at first and as you master the moving pick up speed. Complete 12-15 reps on each side, take some rest do 1-2 more sets.
Cris-Cross Lift and Switch
Criss- Cross Lift and Switch Pilate move,double your flat belly results. Lie on your back with your arms by your side. Extend both your legs up to the ceiling. Cross your right leg over your left and point your toes. Brace your abs, inhale and lower your legs about 45 degrees.
Exhale and bring your legs back into your body. Lift your legs high up on an angle as if aiming to where the wall meets the ceiling behind you.Lift your hips and back from the floor while pressing down your arms for support. Pause a couple of seconds and bring your legs back to the starting position. Do uptothree sets of 10 repetitions.
To make it easier, see if you can lift your hips all the way off from the floor. Practice this move by drawing your legs up and over, see if you can lift just a few inches off the mat. Then immediately lower your hips gently.
Lie with your face facing up. Extend your legs. Keep your feet together. Extend your arms overhead. Inhale and as you exhale, gently squeeze your abs and raise your right arm and left leg, touching hand to foot. Inhale and gently lower to starting position. Repeat for 15 seconds and then alternate sides for 15 seconds. If you’re advanced, you could use a medicine ball for added assistance.
You’ll need a towel and a slick surface like a hard wood floor or linoleum. Put your feet on the towel and squeezing through your abs, lift your hips into a pike position. Slide your feet across the floor so that you can use your whole abdominal area to lift your hips high into the air. Squeeze tight to come up with that position. Hold yourself in a plank without letting your back arch. You can make it easier by performing slider mountain climbers moving one foot forward at a time.
- Sets: 3
- Reps: 10
Lie upward facing with your knees bent and turned out.Keep your feet flexed and gently press your heels. Inhale and lift your head and shoulders from off the floor. Curl up over your ribcage, looking at your legs. Reach your arms outside of your hips with palms facing down.
As you exhale, press out through your heels and extend your legs 45 degrees. Squeeze the back of your knees together. Slowly inhale. Bend your heels back into your body.
To make it harder extend your legs lower to the ground as you press out. Otherwise, you can keep both legs extended and turned out. Lift and lower your legs instead of bending andstretching. Make sure to keep your back down during the movement.
Eating clean is super important to increase muscle strength. Fuel your body with the right foods, such as healthy fats, lean proteins, complex carbs, fruits, and veggies. Enhance your metabolism by eating five to six small meals a day. Add HIIT to your exercise routine. It will boost up your fat loss. Strength train your whole core, without it, you might just obtain flat abs without many definitions.
The above exercise that we’ve discussed so far will give you great abs. Try to focus on the activation of your core, because it produces great results. A study from Hull University says that if you mentally focus on your muscles and how they’re moving, you can experience greater muscle activity. It results in more significant strength gain overtime.