Is hard work and dedication all you need to get defined abs? You'd be surprised to learn what really contributes to ab-definition!
We previously talked about how having a strong core is important for working out. But some of you are more interested in the aesthetic sense of abs. So, we are going to dissect everything you need to know about the abdominal muscles down to its core (pun intended). Get ready to learn!
The abdominal muscles are made up of several layers that you don't see and probably never gave much thought to, since they are not visible. But it's always good to know about them.
Let's start with the most prominent abdominals: your transverse abdominals. These are more commonly known as the core muscles and wrap around your torso horizontally to provide compression that supports the spine.
Then you have your internal and external obliques. You will not be able to see your internal obliques but you can certainly feel them when you overstretch or run too hard. They wrap diagonally between the back of the pelvis and the front or centre of the ribs. Your external obliques on the other hand, are visible and give that defined look on the sides of your body. They interlock with your ribs and run diagonally to the pelvis as well - forming the V-cut that many guys want.
Finally, the all-important "six-pack", which should really be changed to "eight-pack". Why it is usually referred to as a six-pack is because many only work three pairs of the eight-pack as to make the bottom two defined, is a very hard achievement.
Shapes and Sizes
Today, you will be enlightened as we are here to tell you that abs shaped differently, and are not always under the same place under the skin. Much like how we have different eye sizes and arm lengths, the abs also differ in size, bulk, shape, slant and definition.
Body design and character
Defined abs are hard work. Those six/eight-packs you see on models, come with lots of dedication and commitment. So naturally, don't expect to get abs just by dieting. Your lifestyle also plays a role - if you have a more active lifestyle as a fitness trainer or labourer, you would obviously get abs easier than an office worker. But that doesn't mean they do not need to do crunches and leg raises as it is these exercises that build the ab muscle, while their lifestyle sheds fat easier.
We were also all designed to be different: that's why we have genetics. Much like facial features, our body types are different and will explain why some people try very hard but cannot get those laser-cut defined abs.
In a previous post, we briefly talked about the different body types and how they work with genetics for calve muscles. Similarly, the body types apply for abdominals as well. Any body type has the capacity to build muscle, but only mesomorphs will get the hot-cross bun physique as they have the ability to build muscle, yet tone up. Ectomorphs will always look lean, while endomorphs have the tendency to build a layer of muscle under the fat. This also brings us to the point that more definition does not mean more fit.
Take for instance a bodybuilding contest where definition is valued over usefulness. The men and women in these competitions are in fact at their weakest as they starve and dehydrate themselves for the skin to wrap around the muscles to increase definition.
A strongman/woman competition on the other hand test strength over aesthetics. So while they are not fat-free and look bulky, their core muscles are immensely strong - so as to prevent spinal damage and herniation of organs when lifting heavy.
Other nitty-gritty details
Remember, people who build to bulk, have bulky torsos too, compared to those aiming for functional muscles, resulting in lean and compact bodies. This is because bulk limits speed and flexibility, so it is important to consider your other activities when piling on muscle.
DO NOT be ashamed of folds when you sit down, because no matter how lean or defined someone's abs are, they will still have skin that will show (even more) folds when the body bends.
Same goes for "muffin-tops". While there is some truth to muffin-tops equating to fat, it may actually well be a mixture of fat and muscle because that is where your obliques spill over your pelvis. So if you have been working out your obliques and are still worrying about the muffin-top, don't be.
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