Do you want wash board chiseled abs? Then start training exercises that integrate all the key muscle groups of the trunk or “core.” Don’t waste time on endless isolated abdominal exercises or 30-minute “ab workouts”.
There have been a number of different studies which reveal the two key points about ab training:
1). Core strength is necessary to prevent injury, improve mobility, and optimise functional performance.
2). The best way to build a stronger back and tighter abs is with compound movements like squats, deadlifts, chin-ups, lunges, and Olympic lifts (clean and press etc.).
Isolation exercises only train the proximal trunk muscles of the lumbar spine and abdominal region (rectus abdominus, obliques, and erector spinae), such as a crunch and lateral crunch. Integration exercises engage the proximal trunk muscles as well as the anterior deltoids, gluteus maximus, and thoracic erector spinae with exercises such as a plank with hand reach, mountain climbers, and bird dog exercise.
Integration exercises activate the abdominal and lumbar muscles a great deal more than isolation crunches and oblique crunches. They also train a larger number of muscles, as the glutes and anterior deltoids make a significant contribution in order to help you maintain balance and postural stability.
However whilst these exercises all serve there purpose studies have shown that the most effective lifts for revealing your abs and strengthening both your core and lower back are loaded multi-joint exercises such as deadlifts, squats, pull-ups, bench press and lunges. For example, in a study recorded EMG readings on the muscles next to the spine called the paraspinal muscles which support the spine and are the motor for movement of the spine showed that a deadlift performed at 70 percent of the 1RM load obtained average EMG activity of 88 percent and peak EMG activity of 113.4 percent.
Then they tested a back extension, which produced an average EMG activity of 58 percent, followed by lunges, which produced 46 percent paraspinal muscle activity.
the researchers concluded that consistently training deadlifts with a load ranging from 70 to 85 percent of your 1RM in conjunction with other multi-joint “global” lifts will optimally strengthen the lower back and help prevent lower back pain as well as bring your rock hard abs to the surface!
Obviously, you need to progress at your own level if you have pain in your lower back or a disc injury, rehabilitative exercises will need to come first in order to develop a base level of strength and structural balance throughout the muscles of the entire body. Once pain is eliminated and function has improved, use deadlifts and the other global lifts as training foundation.
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