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The hidden ab muscle that will get you a six pack!

boxer six pack absAs a military fitness trainer and inventor of the Strength Stack 52 fitness workout cards, you might think I am a big advocate of sit-ups.

Actually, I despise sit-ups and rarely ever do them, but many people ask how I maintain my 6-pack abs at the age of 36 without being on a diet.

Today, I will tell you my secret.

There is a muscle called the Transverse Abdominus that acts as a stabilizer to the middle part of your body, located right behind your abdominal muscles.  If you’re not familiar with this muscle, sign up for the military, your drill sergeants will be very aware of how to make it sore.  Drill sergeants love exercises that involve the Transverse Abdominus because when this muscle is strong, your back and stomach are strong.  In order to obtain 6 pack abs, this muscle must be strong.

I have to admit, I was doing sit ups for most of my adult life, but when I reached 30 I realized that my ab muscles were getting harder to see. No matter what I ate (or didn’t eat) and no matter how many stomach exercises I did, my abdominal muscles kept slowly disappearing. Then, I did some research on the anatomy of the stomach muscles and found the Transverse Abdominus.  Ever since then, I am happy to say my stomach muscles are more prevalent than ever before. Not only that, my posture is better.  Why?

The Transverse Abdominus is connected to your back, ribs and pelvis.  In essence, it is the ultimate stabilizing muscle for your entire mid-section.  There is a catch, though; it’s a difficult muscle to strengthen.

After doing a thorough internet search, I found many techniques and exercises for strengthening the Transverse Abdominus.  However, only a few of these exercises placed primary emphasis on the Transverse Abdominus which allowed me to give a quality 6 pack shape to my abdominal muscles.

Here are the exercises that I found work the best:

The Focused Crunch – Do not mistake this exercise for an abdominal crunch.

  • Put your back on the floor with your knees bent and your feet should be firmly on the floor.
  • Put your hands just below and to the sides of your belly button. Press a couple fingers from both hands into your lower abdomen.
  • Begin by drawing your lower abdomen down towards the floor but do not move your pelvis.  Your chest should rise slightly.
  • Stop drawing in your stomach as soon as you feel your muscles begin to tighten. The muscles underneath your fingers should feel tight. If you move too far, you will stop working your Transverse Abdominus and begin stressing your oblique muscles instead.
  • Hold this position for 10 to 15 seconds while breathing normally.
  • If this exercise is new to you, do ten to twelve repetitions increase repetitions as needed, but please be cautious the first time you do these or the next day you will be very sore.

Scissor Kicks – A drill sergeant’s favorite

  • Put your back on the floor with your knees bent and your feet should be firmly on the floor.
  • Place your hands under your buttocks and raise your head off the ground.  If your head is not raised, the exercise loses its effectiveness.
  • Raise one leg about 12 inches off the ground and slowly lower it back down.
  • As you lower one leg, raise the other in the same manner.
  • Start with three sets of ten to twelve repetitions, increase repetitions as needed.

The Modified Plank – This is a tough exercise, proceed with caution.

  • Start in the push-up position with your palms on the floor and toes on the ground.  Your back should be straight and your feet should be hip-width apart.
  • Raise one leg as high as you can and then to a push-up.  Switch legs and repeat.
  • Start with three sets of ten to twelve repetitions, increase repetitions as needed.

Those three exercises and a proper diet will get you a defined 6-pack.

[About the author: This article was written by Sergeant Michael Volkin, inventor of the fitness workout cards: Strength Stack 52. Image: antmoose]

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