When you are doing crunches, leg raises, can you feel the your abs are doing the work? Today, we are going to address the Mind-Muscle Connection for the Abs. First, we have to learn more about the Abs muscle. Then, some practice exercise will be introduced.
- Abdominal Muscle (Abs) is composed of several layers of muscle. Transverse Abdominal Muscle (TVA) is a deep layer of abdominal wall surrounding your abdomen. Its muscle fibre runs traversely. When it contracts, it will flatten the abdomen. Most of the time, we refer the term “tighten up your abs/core” That is the muscle we are talking about. It helps stabilise the torso.
- Rectus Abdominis Muscle, located in the centre of your abdomen. Its fibre run vertically. It is the so called six packs abs. When it contracts, your upper body will crunch. We often refer to upper abs & lower abs.
- Obliques, located at two sides of your abdomen.
- The inner layer is Internal Oblique, its muscle fibre runs outwards.
- The outer layer is External Oblique,
- Its muscle fibre runs inwards. Both layers works together simultaneously. When it contracts, the torso will rotate. For example, rotating your torso towards the bottom left, your right External Oblique and left Internal Oblique will contracts together.
Basically, these 4 layers of muscles will involve in most abs exercises, just different proportions from different exercises.
Activation of Abs
Now, let’s discuss how to activate them
- Tighten up your belly (TVA). Your abdomen will be flattened. Keep the tension for 5-10s to see if any discomfort/pain.
- Tighten up your abs (Rectus Abdominis), upper abs crunches and lower abs reverse crunches. Your six pack abs will show. Keep the tension for 5-10s to see if any discomfort/pain.
- Rotate your torso to bottom left. Your right External Oblique and left Internal Oblique will contracts together. Keep the tension for 5-10s to see if any discomfort/pain. Then switch side.
Then, we combine what we have learned into one exercise. That is Cat Pose.
- Start with a Cat Pose posture in a mat.
- Tighten up your belly just like what we have just learned.
- Crunch your upper body. Upper abs crunches & lower abs reverse crunches. (lower abs contracting) Behold, your hands is the key. Keep pushing upward. And it will make your abs fully contracted to maintain the position.
- Rotate your torso. And change the force direction from your hand. Feel that contraction of your obliques.
The above practice takes you only a few minutes. You can arrange it before/after your abs routine. Note that, it is just a complementary practice exercise and should not intend to replace your typical abs routine with it.
Once you master this exercise, You can change the exerting force of your hands along with your torso. Then multitudes of combinations can be used to stimulate your abs. The Mind-Muscle Connection for the abs will benefit every abs exercises you performed.
Moreover, you can practice and train your abs anywhere, anytime, just like random crunches, obliques rotations etc.