Without a doubt, nice abs are a hallmark of a great physique. What makes great abs? For most people it is looking good in their bathing suit. If you do not already have a six pack, the first thing you need is to flatten your abs. A tight flat mid-section goes a long way toward your beach physique.
But what are the best ab exercises for flattening your stomach? Read on you may be surprised.
Your abs- basic anatomy
You mid section is composed of two sets of muscles. The abdominal muscles can be divided into your Inner Unit and your Outer Unit.
The Inner Unit you cannot see, but works to flatten your stomach and support your spine as you move. The Inner Unit is made up of the transverse abdomens (TVA), diaphragm, pelvic floor and multifidus. Here is a link to an in-depth explanation of inner unit musculature http://www.coachr.org/innerunit.htm
The Outer Unit which are the muscles you can view are your lower and upper abs or rectus abdominis, obliques and lower back (erector spine).
Surprisingly, very little attention is paid to Inner Unit conditioning in most abdominal training programs, which are generally made up of crunches and their variants. Strengthening your inner unit muscles is important for overall core performance as well as aesthetics- a flatter stomach.
Here’s Why- when your inner unit is contracted your belly button moves in and up which results in a slight abdominal hollowing or your waistline getting narrower. When you contract your outer unit – abdominal bracing (like when you are about to get punched) your abs push out.
Here are some Inner Unit Exercises. We have provided one exercise from each position: standing, prone and supine. It is important to train your core from the different positions as well as with a variety of exercises in each position.
*Please note our complete ab training program 360 Degree Abs has all of these exercises plus complete conditioning for the outer unit as well. Our program is balanced between the different positions that you can train your abs in, for a balanced program and greater training effect. I highly recommend following a balanced training program vs. just adding some of these exercises to your current (likely unbalanced) training program for limited effects.
One of my favourites. Make sure you are drawing your belly button in and up throughout the exercise. Also, push hard with your arm and leg into the ball for a greater training effect.
Again, maintain that stomach vacuum while performing this exercise. There are a few more challenging variations listed in the video. Only progress if you can maintain the stomach vacuum for all reps.
This is just standing and getting your muscles used to that belly button in and flattening effect.
Try these exercises for a month and you should see a difference in terms of abdominal muscle tone and a flatter stomach.
In the next post- Which foods help flatten your abs and which foods do not.
Craig Boyd is the co-founder of 100-best-ab-exercises.com and creator of the 360 Degree Abs program. His own personal experience of regular exercise and a healthy diet yet not having visible abs gave him the passion to research and create a product that has the best ab exercises, best ab workouts and a nutrition plan that gets rid of inflammation and sheds that stubborn belly fat.