Abdominals are at the “core” of it all and as a result, they’re involved in everything we do. Strong abdominals are necessary for maintaining good posture, as well as having a strong, healthy back, not only for training but for all movement in our everyday lives.
Did you know that the first muscle to fire when almost any limb movement occurs is the deepest abdominal muscle, the transversus abdominis (TVA/aka TA)? – Did you know that the muscles of the TVA are connected to the lower back?
The importance of building a strong core and developing solid foundational principles for long-term health and injury prevention are crucial for strength, overall health and maintaining a pain-free back. Don’t neglect core training because it is fundamental for staying injury free. Taking shortcuts and bypassing the bedrock basic training principles will cost you in the long run, one way or another. Yes, most of us also want an abdominal definition for the coveted “6 pack abs” and that is a wonderful by-product of training your abs & core in conjunction with healthy eating.
Keeping good posture is a crucial and overlooked component of overall good health and the long-term consequences of poor posture run a very lengthy list; from weak muscles, tight and stiffness that may be highly predominant upon waking, muscular imbalances, leg pain with numbness, tingling and weakness, breathing problems, spinal dysfunction, joint and disc degeneration, depression, digestive issues, decreased quality of life, and more!
The importance of building a strong core and developing solid foundational principles for long-term health and injury prevention are crucial for strength, overall health and maintaining a pain-free back.
Yes, something so seemingly simple and insignificant as posture can really amount to big trouble, in the long term. Some of the more serious health problems people experience can very well be the result of poor posture and the effects of erosion on the body over time. When your internal organs are compressed due to poor posture and inadequate space to perform optimally, it can lead to a litany of issues. However, we often overlook the obvious, in search of a more complex reason and dismiss posture weaknesses and muscle imbalance and how serious they can become if they go unnoticed and are not dealt with.
Observing adults and especially working with students ranging from 5 to 14 yrs old has certainly brought forth a strong awareness of the mass proportion of poor posture as an epidemic and the lack of knowledge surrounding it.
The literal meaning of posture means “to put or place.” Keeping our body position in the most favourable anatomical position to avoid undue stress and muscle imbalances is crucial for long-term health, not to mention, it’s aesthetically more appealing, and yes, looking good in addition to feeling good, go hand in hand! Engaging the abdominals is required to keep proper upright alignment and more specifically, learning to recruit and engage the deep transverse abdominals.
Good posture emanates confidence and strength. All things being equal, the person in a job interview will get the position over someone else having less than stellar posture, hands down!
The deep core/TVA works as a stabilizer to support our back and pelvis and provide us with good torso alignment. The transversus abdominis is involved in every single movement we perform; it’s the first muscle to fire when almost any limb movement occurs.
When we are not in the practice of actively engaging our abdominals with the abdominal draw-in (aka, abdominal brace, abdominal hallowing, sucking in your gut to get into those skinny jeans) while maintaining a neutral spine, it puts an extra strain on our lower back and contributes to poor posture. We need to actively practice this isometric abdominal contraction throughout our day by consciously pulling our navel into our spine and holding this contraction for 20-60 seconds intermittently throughout our day while learning to breathe normally.
Some points to consider:
- Make sure you don’t raise your rib cage as that engages other muscles other than the TVA. This draw-in (aka brace or vacuum) exercise becomes easier with consistent practice and ultimately, you want to do this co-contraction with every exercise. It also automatically sets you up for having better posture as well as offering greater support and protection for the lower back.
- Sitting in your car is an ideal time to capitalize on putting this into practice. You want to strive to maintain the natural alignment of all three curves in your spine (cervical, thoracic, lumbar). Sit as upright as possible (grow an extra inch or two), press your head back against your car headrest to counter the common protruding forward chin, and have your butt all the way to the back of the seat while keeping your shoulders down and back (slightly squeeze your upper mid back/shoulder blades together) and tighten to draw in the abs. In maintaining the natural curve of the spine, there will be a curve at the neck and lower back. The good standing posture requires engaging the deep TVA muscle (this supports and stabilizes the spine) along with the alignment and positioning of the pelvis. Cue an imaginary line that aligns the shoulders over hips, and knee to ankle alignment.
- Standing for prolonged periods can produce fatigue and put undue strain on the low back. To alleviate this stress, raise one foot up onto a platform (the very reason for a bar stool) which automatically shifts the pelvis forward to reduce this strain; tuck to shift your pelvis forward (pelvic tilt) by contracting your glutes and resetting your posture. Do a side visual posture check as well as perform the abdominal draw-in, along with scapular retraction to reset your posture and alignment (press the shoulders down and squeeze mid back/shoulder blades together to counter stooping and rounded shoulders) during prolonged periods of standing or sitting.
- Having strong, more defined abs are a result of training them consistently, body composition, as well as eating healthily (Think 30% training, 70% diet). This will not only yield a sleeker, sexier appearance but will provide you with a solid, strong core and healthier, more upright posture along with greater abdominal definition. A win-win all around!
Get in the habit of training your abs around the clock and you’ll be amazed at the results!
Ditch this excuse forever: “I don’t have time to train.”
If you practice the abdominal brace and work on perfect postural alignment daily throughout your everyday life, you will be getting a highly effective abs workout every single day with guaranteed results!
Want an effective workout program to define and strengthen your abs and core?
My Sexy ABS in 10 is a series of progressive workouts with bedrock foundational principles that work on developing your core from the deepest layer (no Spanx needed after this training!) to your 6-pack recti abdominis muscles. Featuring an in-depth explanation of the intricacy of all of the abdominal muscles and the connection to back pain, along with tried and true effective workouts to develop and strengthen your abs to become stronger stabilizers and get your most optimal shape and definition possible! Your entire core will be challenged to the max and this “must have” program is one you will come back to doing time and time again!
Check it out here