Abdominal muscles mean more that just the abs that you think make up your stomach muscles. They consist of your back and abdominal muscles that make up your core. A strong core can help relieve back pains and other torso problems. The “core” is also another term used to group these muscles. It takes focus and practice to be able to activate these muscles, but midline stabilization is essential to exercising efficiently and safely.
All abdominal muscles work together to stabilize, flex and rotate the lumbar spine. These muscles also act as the main connection from the upper body to the lower body during any type of full body movement. The transverse abdominus works like an abdominal brace to protect the spine, along with the multifidus and pelvic floor muscles (not labeled) seen in the image. The direct attachment of these muscles to the spine is the reason why they are so great at maintaining a stable surface for the other joints to move around. Without the recruitment of these muscles, stability is lost and the larger rectus abdominis will take over. This puts the spine at risk for repetitive stress during movements such as sit-ups, deadlifts or even lifting heavy items off the floor. It is important to do exercises that specifically focus on strengthening the TA because a traditional sit-up does not target this muscle. Once you have the ability to contract your TA (while continuing to breathe!) the goal is to increase the endurance of this muscle so that you can stabilize your spine throughout the entire WOD.
Created by: Missy Albrecht DPT, CSCS, FMS