Everyone covets flat abs and toned stomachs. But contrary to the common misconception, a strong core means a firm posture, agile movements and strong frame rather than just a flawless appearance. Most of fitness experts focus more on ab movements as a strong core guarantees a strong body. But what exactly are core muscles? In order to effectively target a muscle group (abs in this case) first we need to know the basic anatomy.
What Are Core Muscles?
The muscles that help in any kind of commotion, support and provide a balance to your spine make up major core or trunk muscles. The key abdominal muscles are Rectus Abdominus, Internal Obliques, External Obliques and Transverse Abdominus.
Rectus Abdominus is a set of two parallel muscles running side by side atop other muscles group present in the trunk. The muscle starts off from the pubic area where they are at close proximity and end up at the 5th rib by attaching itself to the rib with the help of some fibers. This long muscle includes both the lower abs as well as the upper abs. There are no core exercises that target either upper or lower half of the rectus abdominus, although occasional burning sensations may indicate otherwise. When targeted with suitable exercises, the muscles strengthen and seem to move outward. If there is any fat on top of this muscle layer, it makes the body appear fuller. However, lower body fat helps the body attain the ideal “six-pack-look.”
Any movement that would help the spine advance forth will target rectus abdominus. Put your hands in plank position by placing your shins on top of an exercise ball. With the help of your trunk, move your buttocks forward to form a “V” shape and then let your spine roll down. Keep your head aligned with your spine as you exert your navel to the V-formation. Perform 15 reps as you form a V and then take your body back to plank.
This muscle lies above the transverse abdominus and below the external oblique. Internal obliques originate from the upper part of hip bone up till the 12th rib. This muscle aids in bending and twisting the core. Exercising the internal obliques improves posture, makes the waistline slimmer and keeps the back strong.
Place your forearm below your shoulder for supporting your upper body on its side, as you put your feet one over other. Raise your hips to a point that your body forms a straight line from top to bottom. Maintain this position for about 30 seconds and then lower your hips. Repeat on the other side. Perform 10 sets for each side.
The most protruding muscle group, external obliques lie on the side of the abdominal wall. Acting as a cover for the internal obliques, this muscle aids in the rotation of the trunk. Since the fibers of the external muscle run diagonally on the sides of the trunk, they are known as external obliques.
You can tone you external obliques by performing side bends using RDX Medicine Ball. Stand upright, feet below your shoulders with RDX Medicine Ball in your hands. Inhale and then bend your abdomen towards the right side with your arms above your head, titled overhead until the left side of the body forms a curve. Keep this position for 20 seconds and then come to the original standing posture as you exhale. Perform 20 reps and then change side.
Photo: RDX Leather Training Medicine Ball
Of all the core muscles, transverse abdominus lies in the bottom. Its function is opposite to that of rectus abdominus i.e. providing stability to the spine. This muscle helps align the spine and the pelvic floor prior to any movement as its fibers wrap around the spine. Working on transverse abdominus is extremely useful, as toning them helps attain a smooth belly regardless of amount of fat present in the body.
Lie with your back flat on the floor. Raise both legs 6 inches off the floor and then bent your right knee in a manner that the bent is parallel to the hip and calf collateral to the floor. Place a RDX Medicine Ball between right knee and elbow. Hold for one minute and then repeat on other side. Perform 10 reps.