Having beautifully defined abdominal muscles, or a ‘six-pack’, is an achievement for many fitness enthusiasts, athletes and competitors. Calling the abdominal muscles a six-pack is inaccura. This is because there can be eight or even 10 segments depending on anatomy and build. (The most important of these muscles is the rectus abdominis.) Visible abdominal muscles is a symbol of physical strength and hard work and dedication in the gym and to good, clean eating habits.
What is the Rectus Abdominis?
More commonly referred to as the abdominal muscles or abs, the rectus abdominis is a paired muscle running vertically on each side of the abdominal wall which is at the front of the abdomen. It connects on the ribs and extends to the pelvis. There is connective tissue between these two paired muscles. This is called the linea alba. This muscle joins the sternum to the pubis and plays a vital role in bending the body sideways and forwards or backwards.
The Rectus Abdominis Serves Various Important Purposes in the Human Body
The main function is moving the trunk backwards, forwards and sideways. This muscle stabilises the spine and tenses the abdominal wall. It also controls the movement of your pelvis, which affects the curvature of the spine. This directly affects your posture.
The Rectus Abdominis also Plays a Vital Part in Breathing,
This muscle is very signficant in – especially – exhalation by pulling down on the expiratory breathing muscles. In addition, it helps with coughing, giving birth and vomiting by increasing and controlling intra-abdominal pressure as well as bowel movements.
Pulling the pelvis towards the ribs or the ribs towards the pelvis, depending on which part of the body is mobile and which part is fixed, to perform a crunch or a leg raise, is another function of the muscle. It is therefore important to regularly exercise the rectus abdominis in order to keep is strong, flexible and functioning optimally.
Exercises That Will Help to Strengthen Your Rectus Abdominis
Exercises that allow full range of motion are the most effective in strengthening the rectus abdominis. These are exercises that shorten the distance between the ribs and the pelvis.
Start with simple exercises and perform these daily. Increase the intensity over time. This will help strengthen your rectus abdominis and core overall. These exercises include:
Basic Knee to Elbow Crunches or Sit-ups and Bicycle Crunches
More complex and weighted exercises are, for example:
Hanging Leg Raises
Abdominal Ball Crunch
The rectus abdominis plays a vital role in the everyday functioning of the body. This means it is vital to keep it strong and flexible in order for it to function optimally.
On Trifocus Fitness Academy’s Personal Training Certification, you’ll learn about other exercises to strengthen your rectus abdominis. This is just a taste of what you’ll learn to keep your personal training clients’ bodies in tip-top condition. Follow this link to find out more.