To get visible abdominal muscles and a lean mid section involves several things. With clean nutrition, excellent training technique and working on all layers of the midsection, you will start to give yourself a fighting chance at saying ‘’hello’’ to that six pack we all love so much.
Now for the science bit, as it were;
Your Transverse abdominus muscle is what we would generally understand as the main core muscle. This has a corseting like effect for your mid-section. Think of it's location as in between your belly button and your spine.
Drawing this in will give you much greater strength in movement and posture. It is different to sucking yourself in to make you look thinner. This can be learnt through Pilates, Yoga and Core strength training from a good Personal Trainer. By learning to do this it will help you to strengthen your mid section before you start working on the 'pretty' abs. It will go a long way towards better strength and injury prevention. Master this and you will be able to incorporate it into all areas of your training and life in general. There is not a second during my workouts when my core isn't switched on. No need for 100's of sit-ups, it's always working.
Now you can get to work on the Rectus Abdominus, AKA, the six pack. The action of this muscle group is actually to flex your trunk, so if all you ever did was sit-ups for this area, then bad posture and a weak back are possible out comes. On this note, an actual sit up as opposed to a crunch only minimally works the abdominals anyway. I am not saying it is an unsafe or invalid exercise, it definitely has its place but consider the job of the muscles. As you do a sit up initially your Rectus Abdominus flexes the trunk but, at about 45 degrees your hip flexors and lower back join in to finish the movement.
Some of the exercises I am currently doing for my abdominals are:
Side bends with a kettlebell above my head
Roll outs using a barbell, knees on a box top
M.E.M boy’s core workout moves (check out M.E.M boys workout videos right here on FitMag!)
These are more advanced exercises.
With my client's initially I ensure they have mastered the idea of the core, I find crunches on the ball are great. You can achieve a good range of movement and with a slight twist incorporate the obliques too.
To round off this mid-section workout don't forget to work your lower back, keep those muscle in balance .There is a lot to be said for mastering the basics before rushing in, you will achieve greater results in the end!